“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (4:18-21 NIV).
Attention was focused on Jesus in his hometown synagogue. He had found the Scripture to read, read it, and had properly given the scroll back to the attendant. Everyone waited to hear him. What would he say? Luke gives us one sentence of Christ’s words. But most probably his other remarks opened up the passage from Isaiah 61 that he had read. He would have explained how he himself was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. How can we make this assertion? We can make it by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Listen to what the Lord Jesus said later in Luke’s Gospel. Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27 CSB). Our Savior and Teacher viewed the Bible as a book about him. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44 ESV). You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me (John 5:39 CSB). In the Scriptures, God tells us the story of his glory. He reveals who he is and what he does in the Word of God. So then, Jesus made a statement about himself and God, in his hometown synagogue. Obviously, this is a gigantic claim. If you or I said this, we would be blaspheming or insane. But Jesus was God and plainly spoke the truth about his identity.
His first word about himself is strangely the easiest to overlook. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me….” The church as a whole has not done much thinking about this truth, as Abraham Kuyper observed nearly 120 years ago. Since that time, the church as talked much about the Holy Spirit and the Christian. But there is not much discussion about the role of the Spirit in the person and work of Christ. Yet when Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, he started with this truth (Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1). Here are some thoughts about the meaning of this:
- The Holy Spirit acted in the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). Far beyond our comprehension, the Spirit acted to join the God the Son with true humanity from Mary to form Jesus Christ as one person with two natures (divine and human). In doing this, the Spirit of God kept Christ’s human nature free from the guilt and corruption of sin. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26 ESV).
- The Holy Spirit filled Jesus Christ. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit (John 3:34 NLT). God the Father poured out the Spirit on Jesus in his human nature. Jesus needed the Spirit as a man in order to live for the glory of God. The Spirit acted in Jesus fully to set him apart for God. This is seen, for example, in his growth from being a baby to a child to a man (Luke 2:40, 52). Though Jesus was separate from sin, he still needed to develop a godly way of life in the practical choices he made. As the writer of Hebrews says, Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8 NIV). The Spirit helped Jesus through this process.
- The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism to indicate that he was the Son of God and to anoint him as the Messiah (our Prophet, Priest, and King). And the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22 CSB).
- The Holy Spirit enabled Jesus as a man to do mighty works. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:28 ESV). As Jesus read from Isaiah, he mentioned more of the signs and wonders he did by the Spirit of the Lord. We will consider this subject in more detail on our next post in this series.
As a practical point that others have pointed out, if Jesus Christ needed the Holy Spirit to live for God and to serve God, then how much more do we need the Spirit?
Grace and peace,