For the next few articles, we are going to explore the Holy Spirit using Isaiah 11:1-2 as our guide. In many ways the Holy Spirit is a mystery to us, being only partly revealed in scriptures. We do know that He participated in the ministry of Jesus and that He convicts, gifts, and guides believers. Yet we are never told His name.
Isaiah 11:1-2 provides a prophetic picture of Christ. “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:1–2, NASB95) For those who may not be familiar with the history of the Old Testament; Jesse is the father of king David, the genealogies in Matthew and Luke trace Jesus’ lineage through Jesse and David. Isaiah, not only prophecies concerning the Messiah he gives us a glimpse into the character of the Holy Spirit. While some have connected these verses with Revelations and the seven spirits of God, others prefer a more natural reading of a title; The Spirit of the Lord, and three descriptive couplets. We will take the later as our guide for this short series.
Isaiah declares that “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him.” All four of the Gospels record Jesus baptism by John the Baptist and that the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Luke records, “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”” (Luke 3:21–22, NASB95) Isaiah’s prophecy in 11:1-2 is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. For our purposes, we must dig a little deeper to uncover what this meant for Jesus’ ministry and for our walk with Christ.
The book of Isaiah contains a longer prophecy concerning the work of the Messiah and what it will look like. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1–3, NASB95) Early in His ministry Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath and read that passage from Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21) adding “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (You will notice some differences between Isaiah 61 and Luke 4, commentaries note that this probably due to the interpretive version of the Bible in use at that time.) The visible work of the Holy Spirit is seen as the Gospel is proclaimed, the brokenhearted restored, the proclamation of liberty and freedom to prisoners, and the announcement of the favorable year of the Lord. In modern terms, Isaiah’s prophecy became Jesus’ mission statement.
It is evident throughout the Gospels how the Holy Spirit led and empowered Christ. To some that may seem nonsensical, that Jesus Christ would need the Holy Spirit since he is the Son of God. Yet, that is how it is recorded, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Luke 4:1, NASB95) “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.” (Luke 4:14, NASB95) Instead of getting into deep theological waters concerning the nature of Christ let’s simplify the matter by agreeing that if Jesus Christ ministered through the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit we must do so all the more.