Sunday, 5 May 2013

The baptism of Jesus - the coming of the Spirit

A feature of the baptism as the first public acknowledgement of Jesus and his role was the coming of the Spirit to equip Jesus for functioning as the Servant of the Lord. This does mean that Jesus did not have the Spirit before then. We are told in Luke that the Spirit was with him as a child.

The Spirit came in the form of a dove at the baptism. A dove is symbolic of two things: gentleness and peace, and these two features were to be the hallmarks of the way Jesus was to fulfil his mission. He was gentle in the way he dealt with sinners. Perhaps that is one reason why women liked to be in his company.

Think of occasions when he showed gentleness. Here are four: (a) he was gentle with the woman at the well; (b) he was gentle with the woman caught in adultery; (c) he was gentle with Mary Magdalene on the resurrection day; (d) he was gentle with Peter when he was restored from his fall.

Gentleness is not often regarded as a manly quality; somehow it is assumed that a gentle person is not a strong person. The only thing that can be said about such a notion is that it is nonsense.

Paul referred to this quality of Jesus when he was dealing with the schismatic Corinthians: Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you (2 Cor. 10:1). To be gentle is an essential feature of a ministers life; it is a qualification for an elder; it is a mark of all believers.

Throughout his earthly life, Jesus with the fullness of the Spirit exhibited continually gentleness and peace. Even on the cross with the dying penitent thief, in the midst of his own troubles, Jesus gave peace to him in a gentle manner.

We can see the range of the Spirits influence in the life of Jesus in his own words which he spoke in his home synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:17-20). Jesus detailed several aspects of what he would do: (1) preach the gospel to the poor; (2) to heal the brokenhearted, (3) to preach deliverance to the captives, (4) recovering of sight to the blind, (5) to set at liberty them that are bruised, (6) to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. We can see what peace he brought to those who were heartbroken and in spiritual chains.

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