How close was the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Christ during Jesus’ earthly ministry?
It was the closest it could have ever been. Each member of the Godhead has been involved in the redemption of the human race. I will discuss key moments in Jesus’ experience when the Holy Spirit was particularly close to Him.
1. Incarnation: The incarnation of the Son of God was a momentous event in cosmic history that must have been preceded by immense activity within the Godhead in heaven. Once God chose and prepared the right instrument for this event—Mary—the Son of God became human within her womb. An angel from heaven descended to the city of Nazareth to inform the young girl what was about to happen: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). In the virginal conception of the Son of God the Spirit was present displaying His power in unparalleled creative activity. No specific details are provided about His work in the incarnation of God’s Son, probably because what occurred was beyond human comprehension.
2. Baptism and Ministry: John the Baptist prepared the way for the initiation of Jesus’ ministry. Before his birth an angel told his father that John “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15), and at the moment of his birth Zacharias, his father, “was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” (verse 67). The Spirit was indeed active in events that led to the initiation of Jesus’ ministry. During His anointing as the Lord’s Messiah, the Father proclaimed Him to be “My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove” (verse 22). The Servant of the Lord in human form was empowered by the Spirit to fulfill His saving mission. His life was now under the care of the Spirit, who immediately after the baptism led Jesus into the desert to face the enemy (Luke 4:1). Satan had no control over the life of Jesus, whose inseparable companion was the Spirit.
3. Death and Resurrection: The New Testament says little about the function of the Spirit during Jesus’ crucifixion. Only Hebrews 9:14 seems to associate the Spirit with the sacrifice of Jesus when it states that “through the eternal Spirit [Jesus] offered Himself without spot to God.” The thought is not developed, leaving us to wonder about its meaning. The passage seems to assign to the Spirit the priestly function of presenting to God the unblemished sacrificial victim. The connection between the Spirit and the resurrection of Christ is indirect.
When Paul speaks about the role of the Spirit in our resurrection, he says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). The Spirit in us is the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus; and He will also give us life (resurrect us) through the Spirit. There is a hint to the presence and action of the Spirit in the resurrection of Jesus that contributes to assure our resurrection.
The Spirit was constantly with Christ during times of joy, temptations, death, and resurrection. He is also by our side; guiding our lives, filling us with joy and strength as we face challenges. Let’s trust Him, and let Him be our inseparable companion in our Christian pilgrimage.