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Doctrine of the Holy Spirit - The Work of the Spirit in the Synoptic Gospels Print E-mail
Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

I.  Introduction:

 I would like to break our study of the Spiritís work in the Gospels into two weeks. Tonight we will be considering the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Since they overlap at many points, we should be able to consider what they have to say about the Spiritís work in one week. Next week, we will pick up the Gospel of John. In Johnís Gospel we have recorded further teachings of Jesus on the Spirit and so it will probably take a separate week to cover these passages. Thus, tonight we will consider Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

II. Passages (due to the overlap, I want to consider the passages under five headings):

A. Birth (Matthew 1:18-20, Luke 1:35): Matthew and Luke both make it clear that Jesus was born of the Spirit. Joseph and Mary are both told that the child that Mary will deliver was conceived by the power of the Spirit. Thus, even from the very beginning of Jesusí earthly life, we see the Spiritís involvement.

B. Baptism: two points need to be made concerning Jesusí baptism. First, each writer records John telling us that Jesus will baptize with the Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16). He confessed that his baptism was only with water but that Jesusí would be greater. John seems to be pointing us to the truth that Jesusí followers would be indwelt with the Spirit. Second, Jesusí own baptism is accompanied by the visible sign of the Spirit descending upon Him in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:21-22). This visible sign of the Spirit coming upon Christ bears witness to the fact that Jesus was indeed the Spirit-anointed Messiah. John the Baptist tells us that this is how he was able to identify the One who would baptize with the Spirit (John 1:29-34). Thus, the Spirit descending at Jesusí baptism in the visible form of a dove revealed to us who He was (and is), namely the Promised Messiah, sent to redeem His people, and baptize them with the Spirit.

C. Ministry: I want to break this into three further categories. First, we see the Spiritís involvement at Jesusí temptation (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1). Each of these passages tell us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. Luke adds that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. Second, Jesus commented that He cast out demons by the power of the Spirit (Matthew 12:28). He states this as evidence that the Kingdom of God had come. Third, we are told by Matthew and Jesus that He is the Anointed One (Matthew 12:15-21, Luke 4:16-21). Matthew identifies Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiahís prophecy in Isaiah 42. Likewise, Jesus identifies himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4. These two passages in Isaiah speak of the coming Servant who would be filled with the Spirit. I should also note Peterís comment about Jesus in Acts 10:38, where he says: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. In all of this, we see that Jesus ministered in the power of the Spirit.

D. Teaching: Although we will look at this more next week when we consider the Gospel of John, let me mention five teachings of Jesus concerning the Spirit found in the Synoptic Gospels. First, the Spirit will lead and empower the followers of Jesus (Matthew 10:20, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12). Specifically in these passages we see that the Spirit will guide us into truth and instruct us in what to say. We will see this again in Johnís Gospel. Second, we see that Jesusí ministry of healing and casting out demons through the power of the Spirit is evidence that the Kingdom of God has come (Matthew 12:28, see above). Third, in the same context, Jesus teaches that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:28-30, Luke 12:10). Of course, much could be said here, but let me just say that Jesus is referring to the Pharisees crediting of the Spiritís work to the work of Satan. Such deliberate, hard-hearted rejection of the Spiritís obvious work seems to be what Jesus is calling Ďblasphemy against the Spirit.í Fourth, we see the promise that the Father will give the Spirit (Luke 11:13). This promise begins being fulfilled at Pentecost. Likewise, we will see this in John as well. Fifth, Jesus teaches us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). As we have said before, such a passage points us to the deity of the Spirit.

E. Other than Jesus: Luke mentions several others who were also filled with the Spirit: John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), Zechariah (Luke 1:67), and Simeon (Luke 2:25-27). The fillings of Elizabeth and Zechariah seem to follow the Old Testament pattern for the most part in that they were parents to John. Likewise, the Lord used Simeon and John to bear witness that Jesus was indeed the Christ. Thus, we could see their fillings by the Spirit for this purpose. All of them in one sense were preparing the way for Jesus and the coming of the Kingdom (see above on Jesusí teaching in Matthew 12).

III. Implications:

A. Jesus is the Spirit-anointed Messiah. The prophets told us that the Messiah would be filled with the Spirit. Thus, Jesusí life and ministry, done through the power of the Spirit, attests to the fact that was indeed the promised Messiah. This is just another confirmation that He was the One of which the Old Testaments writers spoke.

B. Jesusí life and ministry were carried out in the power of the Spirit. Again, it is this fact that leads us to the above conclusion. Yet, we can also say from this that Jesus stands as the ultimate example of living a Spirit-filled life. Bruce Ware concludes: ďThere is a sense in which Jesus should be understood as the prototype Spirit-filled individual. He lived his life in the power of the Spirit, obeyed the Father, went to the cross in the power of the Spirit. Now he has given that same Spirit to his followers, that they might be empowered to share the good news of Christ to others, and be empowered to become more like Christ, to his glory and to the glory of God the Father.Ē Jesus lived His live by the power of the Spirit and as His followers, we should do the same.

C. Jesus (and John the Baptist) taught that His followers would be baptized and filled with the Spirit. We are told more of this in the rest of the New Testament, but it cannot be denied even from the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus knew that the Spirit would be given to His followers. Lord willing, we will continue to understand what the means as we keep studying through the New Testament. Next week, we will look even more at Jesusí teaching concerning the coming of the Spirit to His followers from the Gospel of John.

IV. Conclusion:

As we move through the Bible we continue to see the work of the Spirit unfolding. We saw Him working among the leaders of Israel and the prophets in the Old Testament. We see Jesus carrying out His ministry in the power of the Spirit. And as we move next week to Johnís Gospel, we will see the continued work of the Spirit in our lives as followers of Christ. May the Lord grant us grace and empower us with the Spirit to follow our Savior faithfully. Amen.

Last Updated ( Monday, 02 March 2009 )

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