A Brief Meditation on God’s Spirit-Empowered Servant
Author and speaker Jared Wilson in his Supernatural Power for Everyday People writes: “We don’t find our strength in the stuff of the world; we find it in the work of the Spirit.” (103) This work of the third member of the Trinity has been the hinge upon which innumerable church councils and debates have revolved. The prominence and priority of the Spirit in the life of Christian is, indeed, a hotly contested subject. Throughout the Scriptures, the Spirit is commonly associated with God’s “creative power” and the “newness of life” that comes from the proclamation of God’s Word.
Luke’s account of Jesus’s life places the most stress on the power and presence of God’s Spirit in comparison with the other Synoptic Gospels. “Luke’s colorful and multifaceted pneumatology” is indicative of the Spirit’s ministry of inspiration and empowerment. (Wenk, 389) Such can be immediately noticed in the nativity narratives in the Lukan account, which contain multiple references to the Spirit’s influence. (Luke 2:28, 38) The phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” appears four times in the opening chapter alone. (Luke 1:15, 35, 41, 67) Further pneumatological emphasis is seen in the scene of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, in which Luke differs from Matthew and Mark once again with a seeming implication “that the Spirit not only was leading Jesus into the wilderness, but also was leading him while he was there.” (Wenk, 389–90) God’s Spirit is, therefore, what sustains and assists the inauguration of Jesus’s public ministry. (Luke 4:1; cf. Matt 4:1; Mark 1:12)
This theme of Spiritual sustenance in the midst of Satanic struggle can also be detected in the Lukan narrative as a whole, which relates the Spirit’s presence with the liberation of God’s people. Such is the inference and importance of Jesus’s speech at the beginning of his ministry in Luke 4 where he cites Isaiah 61 and what would transpire after a direct outpouring of the Spirit of God, namely, a consummate transformation of reality. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,” Jesus declares, “because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19; cf. Isa. 61:1–2) Such spirit-led activity is what would bring about the categorical restoration and renewal of God’s people through God’s Spirit-empowered Servant. And, what’s more, the ministry of the Spirit in Jesus’s life underscores the continuing role the Spirit has in our own lives. The ministry of liberation and reconciliation materializes as the Spirit of God leads the people of God to declare and demonstrate the grace of God.
M. Wenk, “Holy Spirit,” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 2nd edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013).
Jared C. Wilson, Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2018).