06 September 2022

Spirit and Mission


Jesus now dispenses the gift of the Spirit to his people, and it empowers them to carry out gospel proclamation to all nations

Earth in sunlight - Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash
In the second Psalm, the Messiah is the Son of God and the ideal king anointed by Yahweh to reign over the nations, the one to whom the “
kings of the earth” will pay homage. And in the gospel accounts, he is anointed by the Spirit at his baptism to equip him to proclaim the “kingdom of God” to all of Israel - [Photo by Lucas George Wendt on Unsplash].

However, unlike the kings and high priests in the Hebrew Bible, in the New Testament, the Messiah is anointed with God’s Spirit rather than olive oil, an event that sets him apart for his ministry as the herald and Suffering Servant of Yahweh - (Psalm 2:6-9, Isaiah 61:1-2, Psalm 45:7, Isaiah 11:1-5, 42:1, 59:21).

All four gospel accounts record how the Spirit descended on him at his baptism, and that day, his messianic status was confirmed by visual and audible effects observed on that day (“descended like a dove…  This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” - Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32).

ANOINTED BY THE SPIRIT


In the Old Testament, certain men were endowed temporarily by the Spirit when necessary for specific tasks.

In contrast, the Spirit descended and remained on Jesus throughout his ministry. Moreover, he had the fullness of the Spirit and “not by measure,” as was the case with the kings and priests of old - (John 3:34).

Following his baptism, he was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness where he was tested by the Devil. But where Israel failed during its sojourn in the wilderness, Jesus overcame the Adversary. Not only so, but afterward, he “returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” - (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:13-14).

In the gospels, Jesus attributes his miracles to the Spirit of God, not to any inherent superhuman power. When he is accused of exorcising demons by the power of Satan, he retorts, “but if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out demons…”

Jesus Heals the Sick - clipart.christiansunite.com
[Healing the Sick - clipart.christiansunite.com]

And if the Spirit of God is manifesting among men in his words and deeds, “then is the kingdom of God come upon you.”
This is also the understanding of the early church about his ministry, and it is reflected in the epistles and the book of Acts:

  • (Acts 10:38) - “How God anointed him with Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the adversary, because God, was with him.
  • (Romans 1:4) – “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the glad-message of God, which he promised beforehand, through his prophets, in holy scriptures, concerning his Son who came to be of the seed of David, according to the flesh, who was distinguished as the Son of God by power, according to a Holy Spirit, through means of a resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

LORD OF THE SPIRIT


The presence of the Holy Spirit is integral to the identity, mission, and deeds of the Messiah. But Jesus is also the one who possesses and dispenses the Spirit to his followers, and he promises to send the Spirit after his glorification, and the Spirit “bears witness of me”:

  • (John 7:37-39) – “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believes on me, just as said the Scripture, river from within him shall flow of living water. Now, this spoke he concerning the Spirit which they who believed on him were about to receive; for not yet was there Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified!
  • (John 15:26) – “Whensoever the Advocate shall come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which from the Father comes forth. He will bear witness concerning me.”

As Paul writes to the Ephesians, “having ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Thus, the possession of the Spirit and the authority to distribute its gifts belong to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, and this includes the gift of the Spirit that is granted to each disciple - (Luke 24:45-49, Acts 2:33-38, Ephesians 4:8-12).

BEARING WITNESS


After his ascension, Jesus “sent the promise of his Father upon” his disciples to empower them for gospel proclamation. That is part and parcel of how the Spirit “bears witness” to him. And since he now reigns, he has “received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.”

Just as the Spirit set the Son apart to declare the “kingdom of God” to the nation of Israel, so the gift of the Spirit empowers his church to preach the gospel to “all nations.” Ever since his ascension, this global mission is the primary task of his disciples, but they cannot carry it out without the presence and activity of the Spirit.

Just prior to his ascension, the disciples asked Jesus about the timing of the “kingdom of God.” He responded that such matters are in the hands of God alone – “It is not for you to know times and seasons.”

Instead, he commanded them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the “promise of the Father,” that is, the gift of the Spirit. Only then would they become his “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

  • You are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you. But tarry in the city until you are clothed with power from on high- (Luke 24:45-49).

Thus, just as the Spirit of God set the Messiah apart for service and empowered him to proclaim the “kingdom of God,” so, also, the gift of the Spirit now designates his disciples as the heralds of his kingdom, and it empowers them to execute their task throughout the earth.



No comments:

Post a Comment