“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit
into the wilderness.”—
The representation that Christ’s human nature received animating and qualifying influences and impulses directly from His divine nature, altho on the whole incorrect, contains also some truth.
We often distinguish between our ego and nature. We say: “I have my nature against me,” or “My nature is in my favor”; hence it follows that our person animates and actuates our nature. Applying this to the Person of the Mediator, we must distinguish between His human nature and His Person. The latter existed from eternity, the former He adopted in time. And since in the Son the divine Person and the divine nature are nearly one, it must be acknowledged that the Godhead of our Lord directly controlled His human nature. This is the meaning of the confession of God’s children that His Godhead supported His human nature.
But it is wrong to suppose that the divine Person accomplished in His human nature what in us is effected by the Holy Spirit. This would endanger His true and real humanity. The Scripture positively denies it.
Second—The work of the Holy Spirit in the consecration of Jesus to His office (see “First,” on p. 93).
This ought to be carefully noticed, especially since the Church has never sufficiently confessed the influence of the Holy Spirit exerted upon the work of Christ. The general impression is that the work of the Holy Spirit begins when the work of the Mediator on earth is finished, as tho until that time the Holy Spirit celebrated His divine day of rest. Yet the Scripture teaches us again and again that Christ performed His mediatorial work controlled and impelled by the Holy Spirit. We consider this influence now with reference to His consecration to His office.
By the spirit of the prophets already Christ testified of this saving
In regard to the event itself, only a few words. That
Christ’s Baptism was not a mere form, but the fulfilling of all righteousness proves that He descended into the water burdened with our sins. Hence St. John makes the words, “Behold the Lamb of God,”
And yet it is only at His Baptism that Jesus receives the actual consecration to His office. This is proven from the fact that immediately after this He entered publicly upon His office as a Teacher; and also from the event itself, and the voice from heaven pointing to Him as the Messiah; and especially from the descent of the Holy Spirit, which can not be interpreted in any other way than as His consecration to His holy office.
What we have said with reference to the communication of the Holy Spirit qualifying one for office, as in the case of Saul, David, and others, is of direct application here. Altho in His human nature Jesus was personally in constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit, yet the official communication was established only at the time of His Baptism. Yet with this difference, that while in others the person and his office are separated at death, in the Messiah the
And finally, to the question why the Person of the Mediator needed this remarkable event and the three signs that accompany it, we answer:
First, Christ must be a true man even in His office, wherefore He must be installed according to the human custom. He enters upon His public ministry at thirty; He is publicly installed; and He is anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Second, for His human consciousness this striking revelation from heaven was of the utmost necessity. The conflict of the temptation was to be absolute, i.e., indescribable; hence the impression of His consecration must be indestructible.
Third, for the apostles and the Church it was necessary to distinguish unmistakably the true Messiah from all the pseudo-messiahs and antichrists. This is the reason of St. John’s strong appeal to this event.
If the work of the Holy Spirit with reference to the consecration is conspicuous and clearly indicated, the fact that the official influence of the Holy Spirit accompanied the Mediator throughout the entire administration of His office is not less clearly set forth in the Holy Scripture. This appears from the events immediately following the Baptism. St. Luke relates that Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. St. Matthew adds: “To be tempted of the devil.” Of Elias, Ezekiel, and others it is said that the Spirit took them up and transferred them to some other place. This stands in evident connection with what we read here concerning Jesus. With this difference, however, that while the propelling power came to them from without, Jesus, being full of the Holy Spirit, felt its pressure in the very depths of His soul. And yet, altho operating in His soul, this action of the Holy Spirit was not identical with the impulses of Christ’s human nature. Of Himself Jesus would not have gone into the desert; His going there was the result of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Only in this way this passage receives its full explanation.
That this leading of the Holy Spirit was not limited to this one act appears from St. Luke, who relates
It is evidently the purpose of the Scripture to emphasize the fact of the inability of the human nature which Christ had adopted to accomplish the work of the Messiah without the constant operation and powerful leading of the Holy Spirit, whereby it was so strengthened that it could be the instrument of the Son of God for the performance of His wonderful work.
Jesus was conscious of this, and at the beginning of His ministry expressly indicated it. In their synagogue He turned to
The Holy Spirit did not support His human nature in the temptation and in the opening ministry only, but in all His mighty deeds, as Christ Himself testified: “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you”
Apart, however, from these passages and their interpretations, we have said enough to prove that that part of Christ’s work of mediation, beginning with His Baptism and closing in the upper chamber, was marked by the operation, influence, and support of the Holy Spirit.
According to the divine counsel, human nature is adapted in creation to the inworking of the Holy Spirit, without which it can not unfold itself any more than the rosebud without the light and
There are three differences between this communication of the Holy Spirit to the human nature of Jesus and that in us:
First, the Holy Spirit always meets with the resistance of evil in our hearts. Jesus’s heart was without sin and unrighteousness. Hence in His human nature the Holy Spirit met no resistance.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit’s operation, influence, support, and guidance in our human nature is always individual, i.e., in part, imperfect; in the human nature of Jesus it was central, perfect, leaving no void.
Thirdly, in our nature the Holy Spirit meets with an ego which in union with that nature opposes God; while the Person which He met in the human nature of Christ, partaking of the divine nature, was absolutely holy. For the Son having adopted the human nature in union with His Person, was cooperating with the Holy Spirit.
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