Jesus’ Companion; Our Companion – Role of the Spirit in the Life of Christ
Who is the most neglected person of the Trinity? Answer: The Holy Spirit.
There are a few reasons for this.
- The Holy Spirit does not call attention to Himself. His goal is to glorify the Son.
- The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is challenging. If one is not careful, it is easy to go off track. Imprecise language can inadvertently lead to heresy. I will try to be careful with my language in this sharing, but if I share something that sounds off, please ask a question and ask for further clarification rather than just stoning me right off.
- Some have seen excesses in the church ascribed to the Holy Spirit and, in reaction to that, wrongly minimize Him and His work.
But we should not neglect the Spirit. Today we are going to talk about Him and His work in our lives.
One reason we should talk about Him is that He was the close companion and active participant in every aspect of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
This session is going to focus specifically on the role of the Spirit in Jesus’ life. The title for the study is:
Jesus’ Companion; Our Companion
I. A snapshot of Jesus’ connection to the Spirit.
We do a lot of studies on Jesus. We know that Jesus is divine, 100% God and 100% man. We know about His birth, His baptism, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection. We know of the power and humility He displayed. We know of the trials and difficulties He went through.
But for all of this time, He was not alone. When we study the Scriptures carefully, we see that He had a companion. We will see that at every single stage of Jesus’ life, this invisible companion was with Him. He anointed Him, strengthened Him, encouraged Him, led Him, and empowered Him.
We are going to look at a quick overview of His life and see that at every step of the way, the Holy Spirit was Jesus’ companion. They had a deep and personal connection. And Jesus’ connection with the Spirit helped Jesus fulfill all of the Father’s will.
On this point, Mark Jones in the book Knowing God said, “Any Christians wanting to know Jesus will inevitably find themselves faced with the fact that Jesus, from the time of his conception, had an inseparable companion: the eternal Holy Spirit. To know Jesus is to know the Holy Spirit and vice-versa.”
So first, we are going to zoom out and observe the Holy Spirit’s presence with Jesus throughout His life. Then we will zoom in on a couple of these events and see how Jesus’ connection with the Spirit applies to us today.
A. Prophesies of the Spirit anointing the Messiah.
Isaiah 11:1-2 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound
Jesus quoted this of himself in Luke 4:18.
From the Old Testament prophecies, it was made clear that the Messiah would come in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit would “rest upon him.” The Messiah’s ministry would not be a result of exclusively His own power. Isaiah 11 shows the manifold ministry of the Spirit. He brings wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Jesus’ ministry had all of these. He responded to challenging questions with wisdom. He understood the hearts and needs of man. He gave wise counsel to those who asked. His teaching was authoritative. He had all knowledge and insight. And He taught people to fear the Lord.
This is what was prophesied about Him and we see the Holy Spirit as His constant companion in life.
B. The Spirit was active in Jesus’ birth.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
One of the greatest miracles in history is the virgin birth. It is biologically impossible. And yet, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived Jesus. The Spirit superseded the laws of nature. We don’t know how He did this. We don’t know the scientific process. But He did. The Holy Spirit’s work and methods are a mystery.
The Holy Spirit was involved in the birth of Jesus, but He didn’t take a very visible role. He often works behind the scenes and this is the case here as well. His supernatural work in Christ’s birth foreshadows the fact that He would be heavily involved throughout Jesus’ life and ministry.
C. The Spirit was active in Jesus’ baptism.
Most of the first thirty years of Jesus’ life are unknown to us as it was not done in public. Jesus’ baptism inaugurated His public ministry.
Luke 3:22 – And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
When Jesus stepped onto the public stage for the first time, the Holy Spirit was right there with Him. And it was at that time that the Holy Spirit chose to manifest Himself in a tangible form. Looking at the crowds, Jesus knew what He was going to have to go through. He knew what His mission was. It was not going to be a coronation. He was going to be brutally murdered by these very people He was ministering to.
What a comfort that must have been for Jesus to have the certain and calm assurance that the Holy Spirit would be with Him every step of the way. He was not going to face these things alone. At the same time, this event showed the world that Jesus was not doing things by His own initiative. Just as was prophesied in the Old Testament, He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. And that was a mark of God’s approval of the person and ministry of Jesus.
D. The Spirit was active in Jesus’ ministry.
Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.
Acts 10:37-38 – You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached — how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Jesus didn’t do things purely by His own will. The book of John tells us repeatedly that Jesus did the will of the Father. He subordinated His own will to the Father. But what about Jesus’ miracles? Were they merely accomplished by His own divine authority? Or did He fully revoke His own power and rely totally on the power of the Spirit?
I believe the answer is that they were accomplished both by His divine power and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, Jesus was not alone. The Holy Spirit was empowering Jesus’ ministry. The Spirit was involved with Jesus’ miracles.
There are few or no illustrations which can help us fully understand how this works. What is the Trinity like? How does the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit work together to accomplish a miracle? Much of this is a mystery.
Perhaps the following illustration can give us a bit of insight. Children are required to obey their parents. That means if the mom gives an instruction to the child, the child has to obey. What about the dad? If the dad disagrees with the mom and tells the child not to do it, there is a problem. If the dad remains silent, the child still must obey. But it is a powerful and beautiful thing when mom gives an instruction and dad affirms and supports that instruction and throws the weight of his authority behind it.
The Trinity working together in perfect harmony is a beautiful thing. Jesus and the Holy Spirit were perfectly in sync. The miracles that Jesus did were fully supported by the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. What we see is perfect unity
E. The Spirit was active in Jesus’ death.
Hebrews 9:14 – How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Jesus’ decision to die on the cross was not an arbitrary one. He was submitting Himself to the Father’s will. Lest we think that was easy, we should remember that Jesus was 100% man. The agony of that decision is clearly seen in the Garden of Gethsemane. How did Jesus come to be able to say, “not my will, but yours be done?” How did He receive the comfort and strength to go through with it?
We don’t know the answer to all of these questions. But we do see that the Holy Spirit was there. It was “through” the Spirit that He offered Himself as a sacrifice to God. It wasn’t a mere human idea. His decision was perfect. Perfectly wise. Perfectly according to God’s plan.
F. The Spirit was active at Jesus’ resurrection.
Romans 8:11 – If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
This verse links the resurrection of Jesus to the Holy Spirit. Note again that this does not mean the other members of the Trinity were not involved. It does show that their roles are closely connected and that they work together in perfect harmony.
The Holy Spirit was with Jesus as His companion and Helper at every step of Jesus’ journey. From birth all the way through death and resurrection, the Spirit worked with, in, and through Him. He was with Him in the glorious successes (miracles), and He was with Him during the most trying times.
What is the lesson for us from this?
Jesus told His disciples repeatedly to “follow Me.” We are to follow not only His teachings but His life and example. And Jesus’ life shows us how important it is that we be filled with the Spirit.
Jesus is divine. He created the universe. And He still highly valued a close and personal connection with the Spirit. If Jesus, who arguably could have done these things purely based on His own divine power, valued that (and He did), how much more do we need the Holy Spirit in our lives? How hopeless it would be for us to have any success without the Spirit! How lost we are without the Spirit’s leading! How hopeless it is for us to successfully navigate trials without Him!
The Holy Spirit is also with us. He desires to help us. He desires to fill us. He wants to be our constant companion and Helper. He wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives (our marriage, our job, our successes and failures, temptations and trials). We need him.
Jesus’ own walk was supported by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we want to walk with Jesus, we can’t do it without the Holy Spirit’s help.
We have seen an overview of Jesus’ connection with the Holy Spirit. Now we want to zoom in to see more details of the Holy Spirit’s work in His life.
II. Jesus was led by the Spirit
Luke 4:1-2 – And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended upon Him. The baptism marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus was going to go through all manner of opposition before ultimately dying on the cross. One might think that the Holy Spirit would comfort Him or give Him even more strength to face these things (and perhaps He did).
But what we actually see in the text is that immediately after filling Jesus, the Holy Spirit starts leading Him. Where? To the wilderness. This is rather unexpected. After being filled with the Spirit, shouldn’t Jesus start doing miracles? Shouldn’t He start preparing and preaching spectacular sermons that draw crowds? These things would come later, but first, the wilderness experience.
Many characters in the Bible had an important wilderness experience.
Jesus was no exception. Very little is told us about what happened during these forty days. What was the purpose of it?
No one else was there beside Jesus. No crowds. No teaching. So Jesus was clearly led into the wilderness for His own sake.
We can infer that the trials in the wilderness could help prepare Him for what was to come. There He practiced self-denial, spending forty days without food. He was alone with the Father. Hebrews tells us that Jesus did learn (Hebrews 5:8). At the incarnation, He became a man, and His human side was subjected to the full human experience.
At the end of these forty days, Jesus was tempted by Satan. Though without food and physically weakened, He responded perfectly.
Was it His own willpower? Was it dependence upon the Father? Was it a result of being filled with the Spirit? I don’t think it is either/or. It is all of the above.
This entire wilderness experience shows us that the Spirit works in many ways we may not expect. It is not always flashy. It is not always in public. It often is in that private, alone time with God.
During one family devotion time with my kids we were talking about Jesus’ miracle of changing water to wine. He didn’t put on a show. He didn’t wave a wand. He didn’t recite a pious prayer. He didn’t say anything or do anything about it at all. He simply told the workers to serve it. The change that had been made was totally unseen.
This is a far cry from how the work of the Spirit is understood by many in the church. After we studied the miracle of turning water into wine (understated power), we watched a video of Benny Hinn. There were bright lights, expensive suits, and nice music in the background. With many spiritual-sounding words, he whipped his suit around the stage and smashed people with it. He hit people, pushed people, and yelled. Apparently, the harder the hit and the louder the proclamation, the more the Holy Spirit’s presence could be felt.
That is not how Jesus worked. That is not how the Holy Spirit worked in His life.
He teaches and leads us in private. Elijah learned this as well when God spoke to him not through the fire or the earthquake but the still, small voice.
The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself but rather glorifies Jesus. And God is an orderly God and not the author of confusion. In some circles, people start to bark like dogs or squawk like chickens when they are “slain in the Spirit.” Brothers, this is not how the Spirit works. We see nothing of the kind in Scripture. If an unbeliever walked into those services, he would likely be repelled by the craziness of what he saw.
Rather than looking for outrageous signs of the manifestations of the Spirit, let us consider how He works in our lives to mold and shape us into the image of Christ.
Related to us:
A. The Spirit leads us through trials to strengthen us.
Being filled with the Spirit did not mean an easy life for Jesus. The first thing that happened after the Scripture mentions He was filled with the Spirit was 40 days of trials in the wilderness with no food. So I don’t want you to be surprised when you face trials.
1 Peter 4:12 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
Do not have the idea that a person who has a Spirit-filled life has an easy or comfortable life. There is no guarantee of prosperity (Jesus was poor). There is no guarantee of lots of materials (Jesus had few). There is no guarantee of popularity (Jesus had little). There is no guarantee of a long life (Jesus lived a short one). Obstacles are not a sign of God’s displeasure. He uses trials to strengthen us.
If God has led you into the wilderness, the most likely reason is that He wants you to learn to depend on Him.
B. The Spirit sustains us through trials.
The text does not clearly say this, but based on the whole Scripture, I believe it is true. The Spirit sustained Jesus during His time in the wilderness. He didn’t lead Him there and then say, “bye-bye.” Jesus emerged through the forty days of trials with enough strength to defeat the worst Satan could throw at Him. The strength was not from the physical side, but the spiritual side.
No matter what trials you are facing, the Holy Spirit can strengthen, encourage, and comfort you in the midst of them.
The question is, where are you going to get that strength?
- Self-help gurus
- Bank accounts or insurance
God has never led anyone anywhere that He wasn’t able to sustain them through it. When God gave a task to Moses and Moses thought it was too difficult, God’s answer was, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)
C. The Spirit may lead us to do things we don’t like (uncomfortable).
The test of whether or not the Spirit is leading us to do something is not “do I like it?” or “do I enjoy it?” There is little that is enjoyable about forty days without food. I assume you don’t have to try it yourself to know that is true.
He cares more about our character than our comfort. Here are some uncomfortable things which the Spirit may lead us to do.
- Greet and befriend a newcomer at church.
- Share the gospel with someone in your neighborhood.
- Correct a brother or sister who is in sin.
- Approach someone you have offended and ask forgiveness.
- Share your testimony in public.
The list goes on and on. Our first “gut” reaction in many of these cases would be to hesitate and keep silent because speaking can be awkward and uncomfortable. But if the Spirit leads you to do this and you don’t, that is quenching the Spirit. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t ignore that urge in your heart. Don’t ignore that voice that reminds you of the Scriptures.
D. The Spirit’s work in our life results in saying “no” to temptation
The result of the Spirit’s work in our lives, is victory over temptation. Galatians 5 shows us the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit filling and leading Jesus was an epic victory over the most alluring temptations Satan could throw at Jesus (and believe me, he tried, these were well-designed).
What does a Spirit-filled person look like?
You very possibly wouldn’t notice such a person on the street. He isn’t the loudest talker. He isn’t the flashiest dresser. He doesn’t really bring attention to himself at all.
He is humble, a servant, and others-centered. He has love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.
The man of God is like Jesus, often on his knees, alone, spending time with God. As he gets closer to the Lord, sin loses its power over him. The Spirit-filled person says “no” to the temptations of the world and “yes” to God more and more often.
After the wilderness, Jesus began His public ministry in earnest, and this is what it says about it.
Luke 4:14 – And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.
Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit. He was not alone. He was not doing His own thing. The Trinity was completely unified in the ministry of Christ.
That takes us to the next point as we look at Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
III. Jesus was empowered by the Spirit
Matthew 12:28 – But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Matthew 12:31-32 – Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Jesus told them that He was doing the things He was doing by the power of the Spirit.
Notice the logic here.
- Jesus did miracles, including casting out demons.
- People said that those miracles were done by the power of Satan.
- Jesus said those statements were equivalent to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
- Therefore, these miracles were done through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So who was doing the miracles? Jesus or the Holy Spirit? Some people try to divide it. But the Bible ascribes the miracles to both. It is similar to Jesus’ resurrection. Some verses say that the Father raised Jesus. Others ascribe it to the Holy Spirit. And others ascribe it to Jesus Himself. It was all three. The Trinity is 3 in 1. And we see this evidenced throughout Jesus’ life, most notably at the baptism when all three were clearly present.
Now we talk a lot about the power of the Holy Spirit. And many throughout history have wrongly understood the Holy Spirit to be a force, an electrical current, an impersonal power. These views of the Holy Spirit are wrong. The Holy Spirit is personal.
Here are a few verses that show us the Holy Spirit is personal. Some of these points are from Mike Winger’s video on the theology of the Holy Spirit. I recommend watching Winger’s video of the theology of the Holy Spirit here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28HVFJttJiQ
- John 14:26 (Luke 12:12) – He will teach you. A force does not teach people things.
- Romans 8:26-27 – The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He prays. A force does not do that. He also has a mind. A force does not have a mind.
- Acts 5:3 – They lied to the Holy Spirit. You cannot lie to a force. Interestingly, verse 4 says that they lied to God. Therefore the Holy Spirit is also divine.
- Ephesians 4:30 – Do not grieve the Spirit. The Spirit can be grieved. A force cannot grieve.
The Holy Spirit is a person. We see throughout the gospels that He had a relationship with Jesus. That relationship strengthened, encouraged, and empowered Jesus for the ministry that He was called to do.
What do we learn from that?
If Jesus, being God in the flesh, was supported and helped by the Holy Spirit, how much more do we need to depend on Him totally?
Jesus said that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). And yet Jesus went away and sent us the Spirit (John 16). We can also say that apart from the Spirit we can do nothing. Jesus works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So what does that mean?
Simply put, we need God.
Here is a quote I heard from a sermon by Paul Washer – “When I was younger, I used to tell preachers that they cannot preach without the power of God on their lives. Now I tell them that they cannot tie their shoes without the power of God on their lives.”
We need God for every aspect of our lives. He not only created us. He sustains us. Every single breath is drawn because of Him. Every sunrise we see is because of Him. Every success is due to Him. Every good and perfect gift is from Him.
I want to bring this thought to our conclusion for this study.
Jesus was a man with a mission from the Father. He accomplished this mission with the help of the Spirit. We have something in common with Jesus. Firstly, we are men. Secondly, God has given us a mission. Thirdly, we need to depend on the Spirit.
It is important for us to know our mission in life, and I hope you know yours. But even more important than the doing is the being. We need to be the kind of men that God calls us to be. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that all the doing in the world is useless if it doesn’t come from a heart of love.
It’s true; we can’t change the world without relying on the Spirit. We can’t build the church without depending on the Spirit. We can’t move to another country and do a great work of Bible translation without depending on the Spirit. All of our efforts will fail if God is not in them.
But it’s not just that we can’t do something great without the Spirit. We can’t do simple things without the empowerment of the Spirit either.
We need Him to:
- Be patient with our kids.
- Respond to our wife with love.
- Say “no” to temptation.
- Break free from the power of sin.
- Have self-control.
- Prepare a sermon.
- Resolve our stress and worry so that we can sleep.
If we have been trying to do things in our own power, today is the day to confess that to the Lord. Today is the day to come before Him and to acknowledge that we need Him. We cannot live without Him. We cannot be who He wants us to be by our own wisdom or strength. And we cannot do what He wants us to do without Him.
As we finish now, I would invite you to pray. Acknowledge these things to God. Ask His forgiveness for self-reliance. And invite Him to fill you, use you, and change you. Tell Him you want a closer and deeper relationship with Him than ever before.
Questions for further reflection or discussion:
- What stands out to you about Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit?
- What are some practical ways you can practice dependence on the Holy Spirit?
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