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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 2 - Acts 1:2 - Christ Filled with the Spirit Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


The special thing I ask you to notice is, that it was "through the Holy Ghost" that the Lord gave these instructions to his apostles.

The Holy Spirit is thus presented to us in connection with the words and deeds of Him who was Messiah, the Christ of God! The Spirit is the witness for the Son, and the Son is the witness for the Spirit.

The Lord Jesus was very God,—God and man; but He did not make use of his Godhead either to speak the words He spake, or to do the deeds which He did while here. His peculiar person, God and man, made Him a vessel for containing the Spirit without measure; and it was through that Spirit that he was sustained in his work. His name was Messiah, the Anointed, the Man filled with the Spirit. This temporary abnegation of the exercise of his divine power was part of his humiliation. This becoming poor though He was rich, this emptying of Himself though He was full, this making Himself of no reputation though He was the glorious one, this weakness which He manifested from the cradle to the cross,—all this was His condescension,—part of His qualification for His great work; in the doing of which He was to he made like unto His brethren dependent on the Father and on the Spirit for everything. It is no stooping on the part of a creature to be dependent on God; but it was so on the part of Him who was Himself God over all.

Let us see how it was in this attitude of dependence that the Son of God lived His earthly life, and that it was through the Holy Spirit that He was from first to last fitted for all He did, and spoke, and passed through, on earth, as the substitute for sinners,—the humbled and dependent Son of man.

It was through the Holy Ghost that His humanity was conceived; the Holy Ghost coming upon His mother. Throughout His earlier years, before His ministry began, there was the exhibition of entire dependence, as we learn from those many psalms which are the utterances of His feelings and desires during that period of his life (See Psalms 16, 17, 18, 35, 69). But let us see what is recorded concerning His ministry and work.

I. His baptism. Then the Spirit was seen descending on Him in preparation for His mighty work. There was an anointing then. The Spirit of the Lord "rested" on Him; "fell" on Him; was "poured" out on Him. In the strength of that Spirit He went forth to do the work and fight the battle and endure the suffering appointed Him.

II. His temptation. "Then was Jesus led up [1] (from the bank of Jordan) of the Spirit to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4:1); "Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness" (Luke 4:1). It was in the power of the Spirit that He was led into that great temptation; it was in the power of the Spirit that He was led through it; it was in the power of the Spirit that He was led out of it. That same Spirit which dwelt in Him for these ends, dwells in us also for these ends. Jesus made use of no power save that of the Spirit to overcome, bringing Himself down to our level of creature-weakness; so we need nothing more save the power of the Spirit to overcome.

III. His preaching. After His temptation and victory, "He returned, in the power of the Spirit, into Galilee" (Luke 4:14). In that power "He taught in their synagogues" (verse 15); and when at Nazareth He refers specially to this, quoting the prophet's words, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." That same Spirit that filled apostles afterwards at Pentecost, and sent them forth to preach, filled Him, and caused His word to be "with power" (Luke 4:32). Thus, as the Spirit glorified Christ, so did Christ glorify the Spirit.

IV. His miracles. These were wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you" (Matthew 12:28). "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and healing such as were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). Thus, even his own miracles were not wrought by his own Godhead-power, but by the Spirit of God, and thus careful is the inspired writer to shew us this, that we may know the community, the sympathy, the oneness between the head and the members.

V. His sacrifice. "Through the eternal Spirit He offered himself without spot to God" (Hebrews 9:14). It was by means of the indwelling Spirit that He presented Himself as the Lamb without blemish and without spot; so that His sacrifice, while it received its divine value and merit from His Godhead, was the result of the power of the Holy Ghost. In the whole of His vicarious life and sacrificial death, we find the presence and power of that Spirit which was given to Him without measure, and which flows from Him to us.

VI. His instructions to His apostles. "Through the Holy Ghost He gave commandments to his apostles." This is a very remarkable statement, as shewing how, to the very end, it was through the Spirit that He did and said everything; and this even after His resurrection. It was not as "God over all" that He instructed His apostles, but as the man Christ Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost. Such was the Father's purpose concerning Him, and such His blessed condescension; becoming in all things, excepting sin, entirely like ourselves.

As Prophet, Priest, and King, he was anointed by the Spirit; and it was as one full of the Spirit, and on whom the Spirit rested (Isaiah 11:2), that He came to discharge these His offices. As our Moses, our Aaron, our David, our Melchizedec, he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Thus He came down to our level of human weakness, and consented to receive His strength and wisdom, as we do, from the indwelling Spirit. Thus we see His oneness with us and ours with Him; and thus, too, we see Him full of the Spirit for us, dispensing that Spirit to us according to our need, that we may come behind in no gift, but receive from Him grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.