One morning two young boys, Ryan and Jimmy, came downstairs to find their mother making pancakes. Both boys sat down at the table just as mom placed the first small batch in the center of the table. Immediately they both lunged for the platter and within seconds they were screaming at the top of their lungs fighting over the pancakes – each one trying desperately to be first.
Their mother realized this would be a good time for not only correction but some instruction as well. So she picked the pancakes up and waited for the boys to grow quiet. Once they had subsided to silence she said, "Boys – yesterday your father told you that Jesus gave himself for others. If we are going to be like Him we also need to sacrifice for other people. If Jesus were sitting here at the table this morning he would not be fighting over these pancakes. Jesus would let someone else go first while he waited for the next batch. So I want you boys to remember that and act more like Jesus."
Both boys nodded in unison as mom once again placed the pancakes on the table and turned to attend to the griddle. As soon as her back was turned, Jimmy sat up straight and snatched the plate as he shouted out, "Ryan, you be Jesus!"
There's no doubt that we should act like Jesus. But before we even try to act like Jesus we need to know HOW Jesus did everything that he did. The hint, for where we are headed is found in Galatians 5:25, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
As Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to walk as Jesus walked, we want to do as Jesus did. And so with one part of our mind we say, "yes!" I'm going to pour myself into being just like Jesus. I'm going to wear my 'What would Jesus do' bracelet and try to practice the presence of Christ." But with the other part of our minds we argue back saying, "NO! I can't possibly be like Jesus because I'm just a human being and Jesus is God! He had an unfair advantage in his earthly life because he is God.
We have this enormous temptation on that one side of our brain to jettison the idea that we can walk as Jesus walked because He is God and we are just human. But what we desperately need to know is that we can walk as Jesus walked, we can do what Jesus did if we do what we do the way that Jesus did what He did. Tonight I want you to know that everything that Jesus did, he did not in his own power but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let's walk through Jesus' life.
The Holy Spirit In The Beginning
Make no mistake that Jesus is himself the Son of God. Very God of very God. At the Dawn of creation Jesus was there. John 1:1 tells us "In the beginning was the word … and the word was God." This "word" in John's gospel is Jesus and he is plainly defined not only as God but also as the creator. John 1:3 says,
"All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."
Nothing has been created that he did not make. And everything made has been made by Him. He designed and fabricated the entire universe. John's gospel is begins in a way that specifically and intentionally mirrors the opening of Genesis.
Genesis 1:1-2 "In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."
In the beginning when Jesus Created, the Holy Spirit was there – hovering. Like a bird tremulously fluttering over it's nest to arrange for it and care for it and for it's young. The Holy Spirit therefore was with The Son in creation.
The Holy Spirit at the Incarnation
Turning to Philippians chapter 2:7 we see Jesus the king and fabricator of the universe emptying himself. The Greek verb there literally it means "to empty." That doesn't mean he stopped being God it means that he deprived himself of the use of his Godness. In it's figurative usage it means that Jesus the Son of God chose not to use or display His glory his power his deity. God the son took his deity and he separated it from his use. It's like a hankerchief that he folded up and stuck it in his back pocket – it was there because God cannot stop being God. But it was unused during his life as a man. He emptied himself and became fully human because he needed to be fully human in order to bring about redemption. He remained fully God – he did not – he could not stop being God but his power and his glory were effectively concealed and unused during his stay on this earth.
If all that Jesus did was to kind of zip up his glory into a human body, he would have been the "superman" which is what we often tend to think of him as. But when Jesus emptied himself he did more than merely conceal all of his power and glory and majesty and strength – he separated the using of it away from himself. He did not cease to be God. He added the fullness of humanity to that nature so that he became both fully God and fully man.
That's why when it came time for Mary – a virgin girl from Nazareth – to become pregnant. It was not Jesus but the Holy Spirit which overshadowed her. The Holy Spirit was the instrument in the mysterious process of the incarnation. So when the angel Gabriel comes to Mary he reveals to her only the smallest portion of the mystery:
"the Holy Spirit will come upon you and will overshadow you so that the holy thing born will be called the son of God."
That idea of overshadowing is the same concept the same meaning found in Genesis one. Later when the tabernacle was formed the cloud of the glory of the Lord would settle upon the tabernacle, overshadowing it and concealing it from the eyes of men. The Holy Spirit is there at the dawn of creation, He is there at the inauguration of the tabernacle of God in the desert and again at the genesis of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary. The Holy Spirit was there, hovering – fluttering – concealing Mary as a unique creation took place.
God the almighty son chose not to use his deity and concealed himself in human flesh. He was both fully God and fully human. But then when he turned roughly 32 or 331 he began his public ministry.
The Holy Spirit at the inauguration of Jesus' Ministry
Yearning to Follow the Father
When Jesus was born the holy spirit was responsible for his genesis. The next mention of the Holy Spirit and Jesus we have in the scriptures is when Jesus began his ministry. In the middle of those two times we have that mention of the time when Jesus was 12 years old and he was in the temple. And while there's no mention of the Holy Spirit there, yet we can see the first leadings of this child who wanted above all things to be obedient to his father. He was twelve years old the age when a Jewish boy would choose (or have chosen for him) a master to follow as an apprentice. At 12 years old a Jewish boy would move into the training mode for his future career.
So at twelve years old, Jesus went into the temple. And for three days his parents searched for him and when they found him Jesus was surprised and asked them, "didn't you know that I had to be in my Father's house?" He wasn't getting mouthy he was declaring his allegiance. It was as if he was saying, "Don't you folks get it? I am driven to live in obedience to my heavenly father – I am going to follow him, he will be my master and I will be his apprentice." Jesus was setting himself up to be with his Father in obedience. But at that time Jesus submitted himself to Mary and Josepha and went with them.
When Jesus began his ministry at his baptism the Holy Spirit was there, the Father was also there. The Father was there proclaiming his love and identifying Jesus. In Matthew 3 the father identified him as his son whom he loved. It is as if Father God at that moment was accepting the prior application for the apprenticeship of Jesus The father was recognizing and authorizing the son of Man – the son of God as his apprentice. The Holy Spirit was there at his baptism coming down upon Jesus visibly and anointing him for ministry. The Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to keep the terms of the apprenticeship.
Next the holy spirit is there driving Jesus into the wilderness. This is the very first clear instance of Jesus being lead by the Holy Spirit. We usually have a false picture of what it means to be lead by the Holy Spirit. We think somehow that if we just follow the Holy Spirit that life is going to be easy, life is going to be perfect, life is going to be smooth or that life is going to be fun if we just follow the Holy Spirit everything will be great!
But look in Matthew 4 what happens when Jesus lives in obedience to the Holy Spirit – he goes out into the desert (he's exposed to the harshest region) He's exposed to the worst elements, he's exposed to the most suffering, he's completely alone so that he has no support system whatsoever. Through the Holy Spirit he is lead to fast and to thirst for forty days. Forty days of fasting without food or perhaps without water goes beyond mere human capacity. If God had not intervened in this time, Jesus would have died alone in the desert. And yet it was the Holy Spirit that lead him there.
It is also a lesson that the Holy Spirit when he leads us out will sustain us in that which we are lead to do when it is beyond our human capacity. The Holy Spirit will sustain.
The Holy spirit leads Jesus out into the desert, pay attention to the words in Matthew 4:1: "SO THAT" he can be tempted. Let me tell you that when you follow the Holy Spirit chances are very good that you will not enter into "comfort" and you will not enter into "ease" but that you will enter into testing and difficulty and trials and harsh circumstances. And you may well have questions and you may not find any answers and you may well be driven to live on absolutely nothing except for faith. But if you want to walk as Jesus walked you must follow the path which the Holy Spirit drives you on.
The Holy Spirit In Jesus' Ministry
And his ministry was not guided either by himself as God or by himself as a human. Jesus' ministry was not accomplished under human power. Jesus got his power – his ministry power – from the Holy Spirit. It was the Father God through the agency of the Spirit speaking to the son which directed him. so that he walked in obedience to the Father because the Holy Spirit told him what to do and how to do it.
Later on in Jesus' ministry as he is going from place to place there are instances when we see the Holy Spirit coming into the forefront. It is in those moments that we see the otherwise hidden truth that Jesus is not ministering in his own strength – but rather it is the Holy Spirit who guides him.
Worshipping by the Holy Spirit
In Luke 10:21 we read that Jesus "rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, 'I praise you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth…"
When Jesus the son of God worshipped, he did not worship in the flesh but in the Spirit! This is Jesus doing what he spoke of In John 4: worshiping in spirit and in truth. The Holy Spirit moved him to worship. It wasn't the right music, it wasn't the wise words of a sermon, it wasn't the glorious picture of a sunset it was the Very Spirit of God which infused in the creator the power to worship the Father as he should be worshipped.
Teaching by the Holy Spirit
At the beginning of Jesus' ministry he went into the synagoge and read what was written of him from the prophet Isaiah:
Luke 4:18-19 "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD."
Exorcism Through the Holy Spirit
When the Pharisees attacked Jesus they accused him of casting out demons by the devil's power but Jesus responded,
"[since] I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." – matthew 12:18
Healing by the Holy Spirit
Luke 4:14 tells us that Jesus began his ministry, returning to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit…" And immediately he launches into his ministry. He teaches in Nazareth by the power of the Spirit, later he heals in Capernaum in the power of the Spirit.
Throughout His Ministry
Listen to this summary in Acts 10:37-38 Peter the Apostle delivers this summary statement to the Gentile Household of Cornelius: "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."
When Jesus said, "I do everything that my Father tells me to do," who is speaking to him? It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to Jesus. Jesus does everything he does by living in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. Jesus heals by the Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches by the Holy Spirit. Jesus guides by the Holy Spirit. Jesus rebukes and listens and understands and knows what's going on because of the Holy Spirit.
But how many times do we try to do these things in our own power? It's not up to us and our power. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact of the matter is that we are frankly not listening for, not listening to and not being filled with the power and authority of the Spirit of God!
Now listen: if everything he did, he did in the power of the Holy Spirit than for us to be faithful and successful in walking as Jesus walked, we cannot follow the father if we do not yield to the leading of The Spirit of God.
Be Filled With the Holy Spirit of God.
You must be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Everything of worth that we do will be done in the power of the Holy Spirit working through us so that it is always God and never us who receives the glory!
Jesus promised us the coming of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, time does not permit me to investigate every promise, nor every occurrence of the Spirit's filling in scripture. It is enough however to return to the text we began with. Galatians 5:25
"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
Brothers and sisters this leaves us with only one question and one answer:
How do I get filled with the Holy Spirit?
The first filling comes when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and baptizes us into the body of Jesus Christ when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior and Lord. After that there are many fillings, many exhortations to be filled anew with the power of God's Spirit living within you.
So let's cut to the chase:
In Luke 11:13 Jesus says,
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Luke 11:13
The answer for us, short and sweet is this: God gives the fresh filling of his Spirit to those who ask for it.
From Pentecost onward the infilling of the Holy Spirit has accompanied prayer and many times the preaching of his word.
Tonight is our final night and our time together is rapidly drawing to a close. I'm not even going to call the musicians to come forward to close us out because I want everyone to have the option to come seeking prayer. Let me urge you to take up this prayer, "Holy Spirit come and fill me."
This altar up front is open now. You might need to confess some secret sin first. You might need to humble yourself before the Lord and surrender your stubborn pride before he will respond. But now is the time to come.
Don't wait for me to finish speaking, come now. Don't wait for someone else to move first, It isn't up to them. It's up to you. Come. Come Seeking for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit in your life. Come offering your total self as a living sacrifice to the Almighty. Come and gain the power to walk as Jesus walked.
Surrender your life, your goals your hopes and dreams to the Lord God almighty. Give him your worries, give him your heart. Come and pray.
Let us – all of us – make this song our prayer:
Holy Spirit Breathe on me
1Harold Hoehner in his excellent book "Chronological aspects of the life of Christ" determines the beginning of Jesus' ministry in his 34th year. Cref p.38.