The Holy Spirit in the Life of Our Lord
Message given on Wednesday, July 21, 1954 by John Caiger
The New Testament Epistles are consistently strong in their insistence that the Christian life is to be lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a life which is from above, proceeding from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, brought to us and fulfilled in us by the Executor of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost.
This insistence is strengthened in the New Testament by a pre-eminent example of the same truth given us in the Gospel records of the life and teaching of our Lord Himself.
It is conceivable that some might be tempted to think that a life so perfect, so stainless, and so strong, might well have dispensed with all sources of inspiration and assistance, being complete in itself. The truth of the matter is that the life of the Lord Jesus was so perfect, so stainless and so strong, precisely because it was a life lived in unbroken and entire dependence upon the Father and upon the Holy Spirit. The incarnate life of the Son of God was wholly lived in the fellowship of the Father and through the inspiration of the Spirit.
Our Lord’s life seems to lie along a ridge against the skyline stretching between two great peaks each representing an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The mightier peak lies at the close of His earthly life and represents the great Pentecostal outpouring when the Church was formally constituted and the disciples empowered to commence their great work of evangelization in the world. The lesser peak which marks the beginning of His life is often overlooked, but it represents a significant and distinct manifestation of the presence of the Holy Spirit among a small group of devout people into whose midst God’s Son was given.
The stories of the birth of John the Baptist, the angelic promise to Mary, the songs of Elizabeth and Zacharias, and the story of the coming of the aged Simeon into the Temple, are filled with references to the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This was distinctly unusual in a land and among a people where no prophetic voice had been raised for over four hundred years, but it was entirely in keeping with the character and mission of the One Who was born to be the Saviour of the world. “This is He,” cried John the Baptist, “that baptiseth with the Holy Ghost,” and we might therefore expect to find the Holy Spirit present in every detail of the preparation, fulfillment and consummation of His commission.
When we turn to the life of Christ Himself we find every part of it covered by some reference to the Holy Spirit. The answer to the wonder and bewilderment of Mary on hearing the breath-taking words of Gabriel is simply, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” The virgin life of our Lord unfolded from a virgin birth, and this miraculous conception was the work of the Holy Spirit.
When He grew to manhood and stood on the threshold of His ministry He sought out John for baptism in the River Jordan, and each of the Gospel writers tells us how in the moment of His baptism the Holy Spirit descended out of heaven in the form of a dove and abode upon Him. He was thus anointed with power and authority for the ministry which lay before Him and endued with strength to carry through His pledged obedience to His Father’s will.
Being full of the Holy Ghost, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Having come to destroy the works of the devil He must now confront him and demonstrate by His implicit obedience to His Father the way of victory over temptation and evil; but in this desolation experience He was directed by the Holy Spirit. He then returned in the power of the Spirit unto Galilee, and we are evidently intended to understand from this that the preaching and teaching which followed were invested with the authority and clothed with the grace of the Spirit. The same is true of His works of power. On the occasion when the Pharisees attributed His casting out of demons to Satan, the Lord countered this accusation with the assertion that He cast out demons by the Spirit of God. At every point the implication of the Gospels is that the source and spring of all our Lord’s life and work was the Holy Spirit.
Nor is this all. There is a verse in the epistle of the Hebrews which tells us that it was through the Eternal Spirit that He offered Himself without spot to God. That is to say, the very sacrifice by which we are redeemed was offered through the Holy Spirit. And finally, when the Saviour had risen again He gave commandments unto the apostles—thought the Holy Ghost. Even in resurrection His dependence upon the Spirit remained. The Eternal Son forever rests upon the power of the Eternal Spirit.
If this is the pattern of life in Jesus Christ, it is not plain that to follow in His steps we too must be filled with His Spirit. And what must it be to learn the blessed secret of living and speaking and working under the influence and direction of the same Divine Person Who filled and blessed Him!