The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ

Chapter 2..... At the Jordan

"Now when all the people were baptised, it came to pass, that Jesus also having been baptised, and praying. the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, Thou art my Beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased." Luke ch.3:21-22.


BETHLEHEM was the merging of Eternity and Time, things eternal found their confluence with things material when the Holy Spirit prepared a body for the Word Eternal with the Father. At the Jordan we discern the juncture of the hidden years of Nazareth with those public years destined to find their consummation in Calvary. From the cradle He came to the Jordan, from the Jordan He went to His Cross. At Bethlehem the Holy Spirit found a woman, receptive and obedient, ready to endure, if need be ostracism and even death if only she might bring to birth the Spirit-quickened Son. At the Jordan there was a MAN ready for death in the life of the Spirit.

John the Baptist, the fiery prophet, was baptising at the Jordan. In that ministry he was actuated by two considerations. In the first place, his soul was burning with indignation against the evils of his time, the wickedness of Herod and his underlings, the corruption of the religious world, the covetousness of society and he preached in condemnatory language until men trembled. His deep penetrating vision focussed on the perishing elements of the world order about him, he could see the axe already laid to the tree and he knew that crisis would follow crisis to destruction. There was but one way out and that was repentance. And as men heard the message and heard of the messenger they went out to the Jordan to hear, to be smitten in the conscience and to seek a true repentance. There in the Jordan stood the last of the prophets baptising unto repentance. But he had another purpose. John was looking for the Man preferred before him and he declared: "And I knew Him not; but to the end that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptising with water . . . And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He Who baptiseth with the Holy Spirit."

And while John baptised sinners unto repentance, he watched for the Spirit descending upon Him Who should know no sin. And Jesus came. He brushed aside the hesitation of John: " Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." John took the sacred body, plunged it beneath the waters of the Jordan and even as He emerged the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended like a dove and the voice of the Father spoke from heaven. It was a declaration of unbroken fellowship through all the years of Nazareth with the Father in heaven. The Spirit came direct out of heaven upon Him because He needed no Mediator, His life was ready and the heart of Jesus was as congenial to the Spirit as the heart of heaven. And the Father concealing Himself invisible, revealed Himself by His Voice-My Son, My Beloved! Mark terms Him "the Spirit," Matthew " the Spirit of God," Luke "the Holy Spirit." Luke adds two interesting facts. He declares the Spirit came in bodily form. It is a difficult phrase not easily explained. But does it not suggest that the Spirit descended in a form for the body and was henceforth to be not merely the Spirit of God but the Spirit of the Son? It would be less than the truth to suggest that this experience of the Jordan was the reception of the Spirit for our Lord. His perfect purity through nearly 30 years had been maintained by the Holy Spirit. That spotless life was more than human.

At the same time, the Jordan was a spiritual crisis as He faced His great commission in fullness of understanding and purpose. His body had been prepared of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. Now the prepared body was offered to the Holy Spirit in the waters of the Jordan that the Holy Spirit should have a human body in Whom He might function in all His might without hindrance. His emptying was not merely that He might be a helpless baby but also that He might be a helpless man. Always He declared: "The Son can do nothing of Himself." Bethlehem was the place where the Word became incarnate for life. Jordan was the place where the Spirit became incarnate for death. Clearly then we must recognise the pressing and essential need of a baptism out of heaven before we step forward in vital service. The Son does not presume to enter upon His life work until the Spirit of God has descended upon Him. He knew that if the purpose of redemption was to be achieved His prepared body must be a body actuated in service by the Holy Spirit. What was vital to Him cannot be other than a deep necessity for every believer. There must be a baptism into His will, a surrender of spirit, soul and body to the glory of God, a Holy Ghost descent ere we who belong to the mystical body of Christ essay the redemptive ends of the Father.

The work to which the Body of Christ in the world is called is essentially redemptive. He Who consummated that purpose at Calvary received first a baptism of the Spirit out of heaven and we who have the privilege of communicating it need no less such a blessing. It is equally patent that this baptism was an energy for our Lord in two distinct spheres. From the time of the Jordan He declared: " The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor." We must not overlook this connection between an anointing of the Spirit and the announcing of the good news. The Gospel is of such a nature that it cannot be propagated by flesh, it must have the energy and utterance of the Spirit. Even our blessed Lord Who was conscious of His Father's business when He was yet a boy, dare not step out with the message until He had stepped down into the Jordan and had been baptised not only with water but with the Spirit. The other sphere of service was His miracles, His conquest of disease, of demons and death. These miracles were not social activities as distinct from His redemptive purpose at Calvary. Those who take that view are responsible for the extraordinary dissipation of flesh energy, which characterises organised Christianity today. They were essentially miracles energised by the Spirit to Whom He was yielded for Calvary. His miracle power emerged out of the baptism of the Spirit at the Jordan. He exercised that power not by the incantations of mediums, not by the flesh powers of society, but in the power of the Holy Spirit by Whom He had been anointed.

And these things being so, our needs are made plain. The prelude to proclamation must be an anointing. The preacher may or may not have received ecclesiastical ordination, he may or may not be a graduate of a university, these things are as dust in the balance, but he must be able to declare with certainty, " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." And since all his power to meet the social evils of the time is in the Spirit, he must not step out to touch demons without the Spirit lest they turn and rend him, nor can he co-operate with flesh in a sphere where flesh power is utter weakness and where omnipotence is in the Spirit alone. True Calvary service must be the offering of the body as an obedient organism through which the Holy Spirit can live and achieve the ends of Redemption in us as He did in Him. At the Jordan, John designated Him " The Lamb of God." The Holy Spirit came upon Him not that He might undertake a ministry to capture the imagination of the multitude and receive the adulation of society, but He descended upon Him for Calvary. And He can never descend upon any believer except for that! To ask for the Spirit for service is to ask for the Spirit for Calvary.

Immediately that is realised the longing for the applause of men will perish. We shall recognise that the work of Calvary can never be ours but must be that of the Indwelling Spirit. A mighty energy will flow through us, the source of which could never be ourselves. We shall know a true humbling and we shall be occupied with an increasing amazement that the Holy Spirit could be pleased thus to take us up and count us of any use whatever in the completing of that purpose the centre of which is the Cross. At the Jordan the lines of service are set. The Holy Spirit makes luminous to the consciousness that we are to be witnesses to Jesus the Lord, that our service must be controlled by the passionate desire to see man redeemed from sin and man indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Let us then come to the Jordan in obedience.

John was baptising sinners on repentance. It was not necessary for our Lord to come to the waters for that, but it was necessary for Him to come for this, even the outpouring of the Spirit. Luke adds that our Lord having been baptised was praying. The content of that prayer we do not know, but may we not believe it was a prayer of solemn surrender and of confident desire for that blessing of heaven which our Lord knew was to be His? And if we come in obedience, we may pray on the ground of the victory of Calvary, confident that the baptism of the Spirit is the privilege of every child of God and having prayed, let us trust God to do it. He will! For after all, this desire for a larger blessing of the Holy Spirit for which many believers yearn is a simple blessing and simply received. It is not so much our having more of the Spirit but the Spirit having more of us! And when all of us, spirit, soul and body, is yielded to the redemptive purpose, the Spirit of the Son will occupy us utterly to the praise of Jesus Christ our Glorious and Exalted Lord.

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