How did he do it?

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 1:1-5)

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal those who were ill. (Luke 5:16-17)
“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.”  (Acts 10:38)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  (John 20:19-22)
Many people assume that Jesus taught great parables and performed great miracles because he is God. That’s understandable because Jesus really is God, but Luke goes out of his way to explain to us that this isn’t how Jesus was able to teach and act as he did. Jesus deliberately limited himself to doing only what his followers could imitate. He only ever taught and healed people by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Although he is the second Person of the Trinity, he resolved to submit to the first Person of the Trinity by ministering through the third Person of the Trinity!

Luke makes this clear to us in Acts 1:2, when he tells us that Jesus did all of his teaching “through the Holy Spirit”. He makes it clear again in Acts 10:38, when he tells us that Jesus did all of his healing and deliverance ministry “because God was with him” through his anointing “with the Holy Spirit and power.”
Some people struggle to accept this, but Luke is adamant that it is true. In Luke 5:16-17, he explains that this is one of the reasons why Jesus spent such long periods of time in prayer to his Father. He was more than our Saviour. He was determined to be our Model for ministry too. He refused to do anything that we couldn’t follow him in doing. Jesus would emerge from his prayer times so full of the Holy Spirit that “the power of the Lord was with him to heal those who were ill.” Think about that for a moment. Jesus is the Lord, yet he refused to operate outside the power of the Holy Spirit because he wanted to pave the way for us to follow him, as he continues to minister through us by the power of that same Spirit today.

Here lies the significance of what Jesus said to the first “lockdown church” in Jerusalem. Having commissioned them – “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” – he then empowers them – “Receive the Holy Spirit.” It makes a seismic difference to our lives when we come to see that Jesus ministered as a man full of the Holy Spirit and that he now pours that same Holy Spirit out onto us. What does it mean for us to carry on the ministry of Jesus today? It means surrendering our lives to God and learning to partner with the Holy Spirit, just as he did.
  1. Have you assumed that Jesus performed great miracles because he is God, rather than because he was anointed with the Holy Spirit?
  2. Have you ever thanked him for limiting his own independent action in order to model for you how to carry on his ministry by the Holy Spirit’s power?
  3. When did you last speak to the Holy Spirit and tell him that you want to live your life in active partnership with him?
Father God, I thank you for the beauty of your Son, Jesus. It would be enough for me if he were simply my Saviour, but I am excited that he chose to make himself my model for ministry too. Father God, your Son has promised me that you will fill me with your Holy Spirit if I ask you to do so in his name. Please fill me right now to overflowing. Holy Spirit, you are my God and I want to live my life to partner with you, today and every day. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
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