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Forty days after Jesus was raised from the dead, He ascended into Heaven, but before He ascended into Heaven, He said He had a gift for His disciples. It would be hard for me to hear that someone had a gift for me and then be told that I had to wait several days to open the gift, but they had to wait a few days to receive it. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift He was giving them. This was a gift from Jesus. Jesus was the gift that God the Father sent to us that we might be saved. Jesus was now going to give His followers a gift so that they could be sanctified, empowered, filled up with the fullness of Christ, Himself. He was going to send the Holy Spirit to fill His followers with power to be His witnesses on earth.

And so, they waited. They waited together. They waited in faith. They waited in prayer.  And when the Holy Spirit came, they knew it. There was a sound like the blowing of a violent wind that came from Heaven. When there is a violent wind, there is a reaction to that wind, right? Wind shifts things. Those gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem were impacted by that wind. They were affected by the wind. It wasn’t just that they were blown from one side of the room to the other. Perhaps there was some of that, but something happened to them internally. I like to think of it as breathing in the Spirit. When the wind of the Spirit roared into that room, it roared into God’s people, and they had a fresh, new breath and new power to live Jesus’ life on earth. They weren’t just going to live for Jesus, but they were going to live His life because of the gift they had received.

Jesus gave them a gift that He personally had utilized. He knew the value of the gift. He knew the power of the gift. He understood the necessity of the gift for He, Himself, had benefitted from the Holy Spirit in a personal way. Jesus’ life shows us the ways the Holy Spirit impacted Him and the people around Him. 

I John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

I Peter 2:21 tells us that we have been called to follow in the footsteps of Christ. If He needed and benefitted from His relationship with the Holy Spirit, we also need and will benefit from a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Seriously, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, you have to have a close, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Let’s walk through the ways Jesus interacted with and was impacted by the Holy Spirit. First of all, Jesus was born of the Spirit. His literal physical birth, His entrance into the world, His new way of existing as a full human, was a miracle wrought by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 describes the angel’s words to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Jesus’ entrance into the world was accompanied by a work of the Spirit. As He was moving from a spiritual existence in Heaven to an earthly existence as a human being, it was a work of the Spirit that made the exchange possible. There would have been no human Jesus without an act of the Holy Spirit.

For us to experience a translation from one way of being to another, from broken to blessed, from sinner to saved, from unholy to holy, from spiritually dead to spiritually alive, we also must be born of the Spirit. In John 3:5 Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water (natural birth) and the Spirit (spiritual birth). Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”

You have no spiritual life without being changed, converted, transformed, or made new by the Holy Spirit. You obviously have physical life, but you don’t have spiritual life without a work of the Holy Spirit. So, the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to become human, and the Holy Spirit enables us to be born from above, to be born again, to have a spiritual birth.

Second, Jesus was filled with the Spirit. Luke 3:22 tells us that when Jesus was baptized, there was a discernable moment during which He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove, but we know that in that moment, He was infused with the Holy Spirit in a new way in His humanity because after His baptism, Luke tells us that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”

When the Holy Spirit fills a person, they will be led into new territory. They will be empowered to battle and overcome the powers of darkness. That’s what happened in the wilderness testing where Jesus spent 40 days battling Satan. Even though He was physically weak during those 40 days because He was fasting, in the power of the Spirit, He had the mental clarity to recall the Scriptures needed to defeat every dart the devil threw at Him. It was a Holy Spirit empowering that kept Him from caving to temptation. And after the 40-day fight with the devil, Luke tells us, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” The ordeal with Satan didn’t take life from Jesus because the Spirit was giving Him supernatural life and power, so Jesus left the wilderness as He went into it, filled with the Holy Spirit.

Listen, if Jesus needed the Holy Spirit to defeat the devil and overcome temptation, don’t you think we do as well? Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18

Paul is saying, there is a way to live that creates instability and leads to immorality. That’s the drunk life.  Now listen, you can get drunk on more than alcohol. You could be intoxicated by pornography, by the pursuit of making money, by an addiction to any number of behaviors that cater to your flesh, but there is a different kind of life that takes you away from an out of control, ungodly life, and it is a life of being controlled by the Spirit of God.  These words in Ephesians 5:18 are set in the context of a prescription for careful, wise, and productive living. Paul says in Ephesians 5 that a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will be spared from all kinds of foolishness and will know what God’s will is. Paul goes on to say that being filled with the Holy Spirit will lead to a life of worship which I would argue is a life of witness for Christ.  The point is, there is a dramatic difference between the person who is living for the things of the flesh and the person who is controlled by the Holy Spirit. You can’t be controlled by the Holy Spirit if you aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit.  Paul says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The whole message of Pentecost is that God’s people aren’t just to believe something, but that they are to receive something that sets them apart to witness to who God is, and that Something is the Holy Spirit.

Third, Jesus ministered in the Spirit. After the Holy Spirit outpouring, Peter was witnessing to a Roman Centurion, an officer in the Roman army, and he said this about Jesus: Romans 10:37-38-37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

Jesus did amazing miracles. He opened blind eyes. He healed the lame. He brought people back to life. He stilled storms. He cast out demons. He didn’t rely on Himself for any of that. In His humanity, He fully relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to make it possible. 

We can do impossible things in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples they would do even greater works than He had done, greater in scope for sure because His followers would populate the earth and perform His miracles. He said those greater works were only possible because He was leaving them, was ascending into Heaven, and because He would send the Holy Spirit in His place to make it all possible. Jesus ministered in the Spirit, and we can do the same.

In Acts 8 we read about a man named Philip. The Bible says an angel of the Lord told him to head south on a desert road. He started walking and on his way, he met a man who was an important official in charge of the treasury for the Queen of the Ethiopians. So, that man was away from home. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home he home he was sitting in his chariot reading one of the Old Testament books. Verse 29 says, The Holy Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Philip ran up to the chariot and eavesdropped on the guy’s Bible study. Philip then asked the Ethiopian man if he understood what he was reading to which the man replied, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?”

He invited Philip to sit with him and explain it, and it just so happened that the passage of Scripture he was reading was a prophecy about the crucifixion of Jesus. Church, this is what the Holy Spirit empowers us to do. He empowers us to witness to people about Jesus, to point people to Jesus. The guy accepted the news about Jesus and then Philip baptized him.

None of that would have been possible without the Holy Spirit directing the steps and the words of Phillip. If you are born of the Spirit and filled with the Spirit and are obedient to go where the Spirit wants to send you, you will find yourself in all kinds of surprising places doing all kinds of unplanned and awesome things!

In Acts 13, two Jesus-followers were worshiping the Lord and those present heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say, “Lay hands on those two because I am preparing them for a special work.” Verse 4 says, “The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went to the country of Cyprus.”

I’ve been on more than a few Holy Spirit missions myself!  I, myself, was actually prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to the island of Cyprus where I lived for two years as a missionary school teacher! I have heard the voice of God many, many times. God has directed me to call people, visit people, and text people and when I obey the voice of the Spirit, I find out that it was the exact time they needed to be encouraged by God. I have laid hands on people and prayed, and at times when I prayed, I knew they would be healed because the Holy Spirit told me it was so, and they were healed. I have been given information I could never know otherwise except for the Holy Spirit telling me what I needed to know. I have been told to pick people up who are walking on the side of the road, and when the Spirit has given me the instruction, I was able to confidently obey.  I have been awakened in the night with promptings from the Spirit to pray for people, and after I investigated the situation, there had been a legit reason why God gave me a burden for them. I can testify to doing ministry in the Spirit because I know it firsthand.

A few Wednesday nights ago, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I testified about something that was deeply personal, something I haven’t really gone public with but maybe two or three times. I didn’t know why God had me share what I shared, but I knew He was the One asking me to speak.  He told me how much to say and how to say it. He also said it was a gift for someone or several “someones.” I trusted Him in that moment and yielded out of obedience to God. We can all minister in the Holy Spirit. That experience isn’t just for pastors or missionaries or a certain group of people. You can live saved, sanctified and sent if you want to. The Holy Spirit equips us all to do the work of Jesus.

But wait. There’s more. Jesus died with the Spirit. This was a new concept to me. Every time I have preached the crucifixion or heard it preached, it has been highlighted that God the Father went silent while Jesus was on the cross. We know Jesus felt the impact of that turning away. God the Father looked away as the sin of the world was placed on Jesus and all of that sin resulted in God’s judgment on humanity. Jesus literally took on Himself the judgment meant for us all. However, I have never thought about where the Holy Spirit might have been in those moments or what role the Holy Spirit would have played when Jesus breathed His last breath.

Hebrews 9:14 gives us some help. It says, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

Jesus endured an excruciating death with the Holy Spirit’s help. I say that because this phrase, “who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God” follows the phrase about the blood of Christ. The Spirit was helping Jesus in the moments that He was giving His life’s blood for us!

The Holy Spirit had given Jesus entrance into an earthly life, and the Holy Spirit was ushering Him out of His earthly life as well. So, even though God the Father had turned His head away from Jesus on the Cross, He wasn’t without help. He accomplished His perfect sacrifice, His righteous death, through the Holy Spirit.

Is that a new revelation for anyone? It is for me. I had never thought about it before. It is beautiful and so comforting to me to see the way the Godhead all works together to accomplish God’s plan and at the same time to realize how the care and concern for us as God’s people is still always at the forefront of God’s heart. I understand this verse to say that Jesus wasn’t all alone on the Cross. The suffering He endured, the high price He paid, the awful circumstances surrounding His earthly death, all of it was accompanied by a work of the Holy Spirit.

That didn’t make Jesus’ death easy, but the Spirit’s presence made a difference.  I don’t have multiple Scriptures to point to, to make this claim, I just know that in whatever ways Jesus needed the Holy Spirit’s help at the time of His death, I believe He received it. Others far more qualified than me also agree.

Jesus died with the Spirit.  We also can die with the Spirit. The time of our death, our translation from life into eternity can be assisted by the Holy Spirit’s presence. Stephen was a follower of Jesus who was martyred for his faith. He was stoned to death, and the writer of Acts wanted us to know that Stephen had the Holy Spirit fully on board when he died. Look at Acts 7:55-60:  55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Church, the Holy Spirit enabled Stephen to see beyond the earthly realm. The Holy Spirit pealed back the Heavens and show Stephen something incredible! Jesus, the One who had ascended and was seated in power and authority, literally STOOD UP to applaud Stephen for His faith to welcome him into the eternal Kingdom. The Holy Spirit gave Stephen a view that superseded the view of the mob, the view of those with rocks in their hands who were getting ready to murder him. 

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Verse 5959 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Are you getting this? As he was being murdered, he had the ability to pray. He asked Jesus to receive his spirit, and he asked for Jesus to forgive those who were killing him.  The Holy Spirit was literally empowering him to be like Jesus, for like Jesus who forgave those who were crucifying Him as He hung on the cross, Stephen had supernatural help and grace to ask for forgiveness for those who were killing him.

Just as Jesus and Stephen had supernatural help at the moment of their death, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will be with us in ways that help us see beyond what is happening to us on earth. 

Lastly, Jesus was raised by the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8:10-11 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

Verse 11 tells us that the Holy Spirit who raised Christ will also raise us!  As Jesus conquered every enemy, even the enemy of death, the Holy Spirit will enable us to do the same!

Do you want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Be born of the Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit. Minister in the Spirit. Die in the Spirit, and you will be raised in the Spirit to a life we can only dream of now.

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