Spirit and Mission

Jesus dispenses the gift of the Spirit to his people, and it empowers them to carry out gospel proclamation to all nations

In the second Psalm, the Messiah is the Son of God and the ideal king anointed by God to rule the nations, the one to whom the “kings of the earth” will pay homage. And in the gospel accounts, he is anointed by the Spirit at his baptism, equipping him for the proclamation of the “kingdom of God” to all of Israel.

However, unlike the kings and high priests in the Hebrew Bible, the Messiah is anointed unilaterally with God’s Spirit rather than olive oil, an event that sets him apart for ministry as the herald of the kingdom and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh - (Psalm 2:6-9, Isaiah 61:1-2, Psalm 45:7, Isaiah 11:1-5, 42:1, 59:21).

All four gospel accounts record how the Spirit descended on him at his baptism, and that day, his messianic status was confirmed by visual and audible effects (“descended like a dove…  This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” - Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32).

ANOINTED BY THE SPIRIT

In the Old Testament, certain men were endowed temporarily by the Spirit when necessary for specific tasks.

In contrast, in the gospel accounts, the Spirit descends and REMAINS on Jesus. Moreover, he has the fullness of the Spirit, “not by measure,” as was the case with the kings and priests of old - (John 3:34).

Following his baptism, the Spirit drives him into the wilderness to be tested by the Devil. But where Israel failed during its sojourn in the wilderness, Jesus overcomes the Adversary by submitting to the Word and will of his Father. Not only so, but afterward, he “returns in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” - (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:13-14).

In the gospels, Christ attributes his miracles to the Spirit of God, not to any inherent superhuman power possessed by him. When he is accused of exorcising demons by the power of Satan, he retorts, “but if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out demons…”

And if the Spirit of God is manifesting among men in his words and deeds, “then is the kingdom of God come upon you.”

This last point is also the understanding of the early church about his ministry, and it is reflected in the epistles and the book of Acts:

  • (Acts 10:38) - “How God anointed him with Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the adversary, because God, was with him.
  • (Romans 1:4) – “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the glad-message of God, which he promised beforehand, through his prophets, in holy scriptures, concerning his Son who came to be of the seed of David, according to flesh, who was distinguished as the Son of God by power, according to a Holy Spirit, through means of a resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

LORD OF THE SPIRIT

The presence of the Holy Spirit is integral to the identity, mission, and deeds of the Messiah. But Jesus is also the one who dispenses the Spirit to his followers, and he promises to send the Spirit after his glorification, and that same Spirit “bears witness of me”:

  • (John 7:37-39) – “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believes on me, just as said the Scripture, river from within him shall flow of living water. Now, this spoke he concerning the Spirit which they who believed on him were about to receive; for not yet was there Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified!
  • (John 15:26) – “Whensoever the Advocate shall come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which from the Father comes forth. He will bear witness concerning me.”

As Paul writes to the Ephesians, “having ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Thus, the possession of the Spirit and the authority to distribute its gifts belong to Jesus - (Luke 24:45-49, Acts 2:33-38, Ephesians 4:8-12).

BEARING WITNESS


After his ascension, Jesus “sends the promise of his Father upon” his disciples to empower them for gospel proclamation. That is part and parcel of how the Spirit “bears witness” to him. And since he now reigns, he has “received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.”

Just as the Spirit set the Son apart to declare the “kingdom of God” to Israel, so the gift of the Spirit empowers his church to preach the gospel to “ALL NATIONS.” Ever since his ascension, that is the primary task of his disciples, but they cannot carry it out without the presence and activity of the Spirit.

Just prior to his ascension, his disciples ask him about the timing of the “kingdom of God.” He responds by stating that such matters are in the hands of God alone – “It is not for you to know times and seasons.”

Instead, he commands them to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the “promise of the Father,” that is, the gift of the Spirit. Only then will they become his “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

  • You are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you. But tarry in the city until you are clothed with power from on high - (Luke 24:45-49).

Thus, just as the Spirit of God set the Messiah apart for service and empowered him to proclaim the gospel, so, also, the gift of the Spirit now designates his disciples as the heralds of his kingdom, and it empowers them to execute this task throughout the earth.



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