Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert (Luke 4:1).
One of the most important factors in Jesus’ earthly life was His dependence upon the Holy Spirit. We see His relationship to the Spirit from the very beginning of His life. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35). The Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). John the Baptist described Jesus as the one who would baptize His people with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). Jesus was full of joy by the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21). At the very end of His earthly ministry, He became the source of the Holy Spirit for His disciples, breathing upon them to symbolically bestow the Spirit upon them (John 20:22).
To be full of the Holy Spirit is different than being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is a temporary infusion of power from the Spirit to aid in gospel proclamation. Being full of the Spirit is a settled condition of demonstrating the character of the Holy Spirit. We’ll look next time at Jesus filled with the Spirit, but look now at how He displayed the character of the Holy Spirit on a consistent basis.
In fact, we might say that Jesus depended on and reflected the holiness of the Spirit not just consistently, but perfectly and without fail every moment of his life. There are two places where church authorities declare that Jesus was without sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul writes, ” God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And in Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.”
But Jesus himself recognized and acknowledged that he was sinless. In John 8:45 Jesus is seeking to make a point to the religious leaders that they should recognize he has come from God and should love him and believe him. He challenges them, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” It is possible that he is speaking of some specific sin they might accuse him of, such as false claims about God, but he obviously had no concern that they would be able to come up with anything to charge him with. His conscience and his slate was clean.
But even more telling than this was the way Jesus interacted with people. He didn’t just demonstrate the absence of sin. He showed the presence of love, unconditional and unabashed love, which is the ultimate standard of holiness. When Jesus wept at Lazarus’ death the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36) And many more could give testimony to how Jesus loved them. He loved those normally considered unlovable. He never treated anyone with disrespect (except those who, like the Pharisees, needed to be challenged in the most potent of ways). He never condemned those who wanted to do right or know the truth. Even people like the rich young ruler, who rejected Jesus’ and his teaching, were still loved (Mark 10:21).
Though it may not always be directly said that this holy character was a by-product of time spent with the Holy Spirit, we know that all human holiness comes from staying connected to God and having His character transform ours. John says Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), which is to say, He was full of God, full of the Holy Spirit.
Paul commands all believers to be full of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The results of such consistent connection with the Spirit will result in our being an encouragement to others (“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” 5:19a). It will result in our having hearts full of gratitude and praise for God (“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” 5:19b,20). It will result in our being submissive to one another resulting in unity and peace (“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” 5:21).
Jesus lived the way he did to show us how we should live. Be full of the Spirit!