And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
We know very little of Jesus’ life before he went public with his teachings and his miracles. We know something of his birth. And we know about the time his parents lost track of him when he was twelve years old, when he was hanging out in the temple. But that’s it.
Did Jesus Need the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps you’ve heard it before, that when Jesus came to this planet he left all of his personal divine power behind in heaven. I can’t say for certain whether that’s true or not. There are theologians on both sides of the issue. But we do have Philippians 2:7 that says Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (see also Hebrews 2:9) And as we saw in the paragraph above, we can say, it wasn’t until this moment, the moment in our passage where John the Baptist describes how he saw the Spirit descend onto Jesus from heaven like a dove, that the record of Jesus performing miracles begins. (Please don’t take my word for it, read the gospels and see for yourself.)
So it would appear it was necessary for God’s Holy Spirit to be poured out upon Jesus, for Jesus to do all the amazing works we see him do in the gospels. Which begs the question: If Jesus needed to be baptized with God’s Holy Spirit, how much more do you and I?
Should You and I Ask For God’s Holy Spirit?
It’s clear the apostles thought every believer should be baptized with the Holy Spirit. We see an encounter with people who believed in Jesus but didn’t yet know about the baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 8:14-17.
…Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-24)
So scripture indicates that it’s God’s will for His Holy Spirit to be poured out upon every believer. And we see that John the Baptist says in our text, Jesus the Son of God will baptize with the Holy Spirit. (John 1:33-34)
“But how?” You might be asking right now. “How do I receive the baptism of God’s Holy Spirit from Jesus?”
How Do I Receive The Holy Spirit?
Jesus tells us how. He says, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
So we’re to ask. That’s it: just ask. And then in Luke chapter 18 Jesus even tells us how to ask.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
This is how the disciples prayed after Jesus said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5) After Jesus said these words the disciples “with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14) The disciples prayed as the widow prayed. And to see how God responded, just have a look at Acts 2. There we see as a result of the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people responded to their message and gave themselves to Jesus.
Why Not Ask Right Now?
So do as Jesus instructed you and me to do. Ask God for His Holy Spirit to be poured out upon you. Ask as Jesus’ disciples asked. Ask like the widow asked the unrighteous judge. Ask right now. Ask again tomorrow. Ask every day.
Ask in this way and you can be sure you’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit in the same way you can be sure you’re saved. You know you’re saved because you believe God’s words in John 3:16. In the same way you can know you’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit because you believe Jesus’ words when he said, your heavenly Father will give His Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
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[Image via Jacques Caffin – Creative Commons]