This sermon was preached by Rev. Bill Blomquist on the Sixth Sunday After Easter, and is a part of a greater series leading to Pentecost entitled, “Ancient Flame.”
I love Jesus Christ. He has saved me. He has restored me. He has remained faith to me. He died for me. And he died for you. He hung on a cross that we would enjoy eternal life with him when we die. Everything he did, he did for you, he did for me.
In my years in Christ I have led many to the foot of the cross. He has empowered me with gifts of healing, visions, dreams, words of knowledge that have shifted souls to heaven from hell. Prisoners, addicts, business tycoons, clergymen, blue collar, children, singles, teens – all over the world. My life has been blessed with the fruit of the Spirit. I has been wonderful! Praise be to God. And it all started when I surrendered myself to him on a beach in central Florida. That one “I give up!” was the best surrender in the world. My prayer is that if you are here today and you sense the knocking on the door of your heart, you, too, like me, will allow him to come into heart. I can assure you, you will be forever changed. You will become a new creation. Old things will pass away. Behold! All things will become new!
That being said… I’ve been thinking it could have been an excruciatingly frustrating thing to have palled around with Jesus during the days of his ministry. Don’t get me wrong. Parts of it must have been ecstatic. People rising from the dead, lepers cleansed, his words silencing the religious culture of the day. I would have loved that!
Other times, however, I think he would have driven me a little me crazy. Just when ministry sparking off the charts and now he wants to head for the next town? When his best friend dies he waits four days before showing up to grieve with the family? When someone wants their eye’s prayed for he spits in the ground and rubs mud in their face. Stuff like that.
Then I read where he teaches a seasoned sage, probably out of his own experience, when he says, “The wind blows wherever it pleases, you hear it’s sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
That’s when it all makes sense to me.
That’s when I remember that Jesus Christ, as the “Anointed One,” came down from heaven and became incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary (BCP 358; Luke 1:35), that he grew in age and wisdom in the Holy Spirit (Luke 2:40), was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the Jordan River (Mark 1:10); and that his entire ministry was hallmarked by a moment by moment dependence on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. (John 10:38, 14:11 and Hebrews 2:4). Everything about Jesus Christ, from virgin womb to virgin tomb, was initiated, informed, empowered, and blessed by the glorious heart of the Father, as revealed through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Just like it needs to be for us.
Jesus has made it so we don’t have to be God to do the stuff.
I don’t know about you but when I began to understand that Jesus cultivated his dependency on the Holy Spirit, that he willfully laid aside his glory to minister out of his “manhood”, that his words of knowledge, times of anointed teaching and healing, and his miracles were the result of his dependence and expectancy on the same Holy Spirit that you and I are dependent upon; I was relieved.
I thought he did all that stuff because he was God. But he did it… as a man.
I had always wanted to do the stuff. But I figured that I would never be able to do the stuff because only God could do the stuff. That’s what’s so wonderful about Jesus. Even though he was God, he laid aside his glory and still did the stuff… like a guy, like one of us. He’s made it easy for us to do the stuff. He modeled ministry for us in a way that makes it easy for us to do.
Jesus has made it so we don’t have to be God to do the stuff.
Jesus was dependent on the Holy Spirit to reveal the will of God and expected God to show up in just about everything he did.
The work of his Father was an absolute priority in the life of Jesus.
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does… By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:19, 20, 30).
”For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it… So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12: 49, 50).
“I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31).
In all situations (preaching, teaching, healing the sick, speaking words of comfort – even knocking over the money changers in the temple), Jesus knew what the Father was doing through the intervention and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Once he got the “word,” he did it. For him, it was as simple as asking, “Father, what would you like me to do here?”
Do you remember:
- When he squatted down and wrote in the sand before the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery? Then he stood up and said to the the religious hypocrites, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
- When he told the samaritan woman to call her husband and she had to confess the man she was living with wasn’t her husband. How did he know she had been married seven times?
- And why, down there at the Pool of Bethesda, how he by-passed all those other sick people waiting for the the waters to be stirred and zeroed in on one guy —only one guy— and asked him a question that pierced him to the bone (and still speaks to us today), Do you want to be healed? Why him? And how did Jesus know what to say to him?
- Or the time when Nicodemus snuck over to his place, eager to engage in some sort of cerebral acknowledgment of Jesus’ uniqueness. How did Jesus know the deeper issue facing Nicodemus was that he had never been born again?
This type of sensitivity can only be accomplished through a moment-by-moment dependence on the Father’s will, as revealed through the Holy Spirit, an intentional dependency which Jesus modeled for us through h short thirty-three years.
The Bible records 35 miracles done by Christ – 17 bodily cures, 9 miracles over the forces of nature, 6 satanic deliverances, and 3 recitations from the dead. I would like to propose that Jesus would never have been able to carry any of these things out if not for his essential dependence on the Holy Spirit and the revelation of the what the Father was doing in any given situation.
“Not my might,” the prophet writes. “Nor by power. But but my Spirit, says the Lord, God of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6
Jesus’s heart was formed into the character of God – his character, compassion, and justice – by ongoing communion in the Holy Spirit.
Jesus taught much on the spirit world:
God himself is a Spirit (John 4:24) and is worshiped in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:23-24) From Jesus we understand that the Holy Spirit he wrote Scripture, that he comforts us. We’ve learned about the gifts and fruit of the Spirit and we understand that he is drawn near to the persecuted (Matthew 10:20; Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12). The Spirit takes up residence within us — even flows through us like living water — through us and through all who believe in his Name. (John 7:39) And, through the teachings of Jesus on the Holy Spirit, we understand us that there would be a day when his followers would do even greater works than he, through that same, wonderful Holy Spirit.
But Jesus had more than just his theology of the Holy Spirit right. He lived it. He was engaged in a relationship with the Holy Spirit. It just wasn’t’ words for him. It was on ongoing lifestyle. Rightly said, Jesus Christ was a Spirit-filled man who was all about the business of the Father.
As a young man considering the call of Christ on my life I needed less to do with formalistic thinking of the religion and more to do with experiential living of the Faith. I didn’t want to simply study the surfers from the pier — noting the precise size of their boards, or at what point they cut into the wave, sliced off the lip and roller-coastered into the translucent barrel. No. I needed to ride that wave. That wave needed to be a part of me.
And while Jesus had great theology… it was more than just great theology that made it happen for him. He wasn’t reciting a textbook. The textbook was a living medium through him and people were amazed at his teaching. (The were amazed at his teaching. For he taught with authority, unlike the scribes and the religious leaders, as his followers did. See Acts 4:13)
What was it about him? Was it his theology? His education? The circles he travelled in? His physical stature? No. It was so much more than that. Something deep inside him resonated with something deep inside them. He walked the talk. He was irresistible because he was alive and filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit — complete with the character, compassion, and the justice of our Father in heaven.
We need to be like that.
Fruitful evangelism cannot happen until we get into that same groove. The world has been argued out, apologeticed out, lawed out, scared out, judged out. It’s time that they are loved in. And that, my dear brothers and sisters will happen as you and I allow Jesus to morph us into the character, compassion, and justice of our heavenly Father through the ever present presence of the Holy Spirit.
So as we reflect on the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit we see a couple of things worth noting.
We firstly notice that he has flattened the board so that all people can play. Though he was God, he ministered intentionally like a man, modeling what Kingdom ministry looks like. This was so we would know how to continue the work of Jesus when he returned to heaven and infused his Church with the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we see that Jesus cultivated a moment by moment dependency on the Holy Spirit. He didn’t automatically assume he knew what to do as he entered a ministry arena, but checked in with the Father as to what he was doing in any given situation. It may have been as simple as asking, “Father, what are you doing here.” And that answer was given him as he listened to the Spirit.
Lastly, and perhaps most impacting, Jesus’ very heart was filled with the compassion, character, and justice of our Father in heaven. It was more than a protocol for him, more than just good theology. His heart and lifestyle was refreshing. He was in a stream that was powerful, unpredictable (even to him, I would imagine), and transparent. In short, he walked the talk and enjoyed the wonder of living in the wondrous power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was everything to Jesus. Without it he would have been — dare I say—a crippled Messiah, or perhaps not even a Messiah at all. His call to us is to walk in that same vain, to be solely about the revealed work of the Father, to live Godly lives above the letter of the Law, in the living streams of the Spirit.
If it was essential to Jesus, how much more-so to us?
So, Jesus’s words to his apostles through the ages reinforce this mandate. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in t few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts. 1:4-5)
Father, thank you that your Son entered creation and ministered in ways that we can embrace, ways wherein we can do the same. Set our hearts on yours, that we would have grace to minister like him. Infuse in us the character, compassion, and justice of your heart, that we would live into all that you have died to give us. Bless you, dear Father, for the grace to walk the walk and talk the talk, honestly and transparently, for the expansion of your glorious kingdom. Amen.