Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Before You Begin...

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John 1:32-34

Certain things in life are prerequisite to the journey ahead. You don't begin a road trip without first checking to make sure you have enough gas in the tank, air in the tires, and oil in the engine. Neither do you start a hiking trip wearing only your PJs and house shoes. It's the same with our Christian walk. Before you begin any undertaking for the Lord you should make sure you have what is necessary.

In today's passage we find Jesus about to embark on His public ministry, but before He begins, one thing is necessary. Jesus gets baptized and at His baptism the Spirit descends on Him like a dove and remains on Him. That last point always escaped my notice, but it is important. You see the Spirit's lighting on Jesus is not merely a sign to identify Him as the Messiah. It is much more than that. The Spirit resting on Him is both a symbol of His kingship (kings in the O.T. were often anointed with oil as a symbol of God's Spirit) and an important empowering preparation for His ministry. This is Jesus' Day of Pentecost. He is being filled with the Spirit and empowered to go out and perform His ministry.

If it was necessary and fitting for Jesus' ministry to begin with a Holy Spirit anointing, then how much more is it necessary for us? Notice that none of the gospels record Jesus having a single convert or performing a single miracle before His anointing with the Spirit. Therefore, we must be careful to remember that we are not called to do anything for God, as though we were capable of accomplishing anything of substance without Him. Rather we are called to do great things with God...good works He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). How does one get the Spirit? The passage says that it is Jesus who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. Every Christian at their salvation is filled with the Spirit. It is given to all believers to empower and guide them along their journey, but we must learn to walk and minister in it. So before you begin making your own plans today, be sure to ask for God's guidance and blessing through His powerful Spirit.

For further reading...

  • Matthew 4:1-11- Several of the gospels follow Jesus' baptism with the Spirit immediately leading him into the desert to face temptation. 
  • Romans 8- Life through the Spirit.
  • I John 4- How to recognize the Spirit of God.

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