19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
The beginning of the Bible tells us the Spirit of God was there back in the beginning. And through the Old Testament we see the Holy Spirit come and go. Not in a flighty and indecisive sense, but for short visits with certain people, by God’s will and for his particular purposes.
But now the testimony of John the Baptist, in this episode, is compelling: He describes the Spirit as coming down from heaven as a dove – and remaining with Jesus. The Spirit of God descends upon Jesus and stays with Jesus. It’s not a fleeting encounter. He is God’s Spirit, he is the Spirit of Jesus. And the Spirit remains.
Here John the Baptist testifies to ‘God’s Chosen One’ – given to us freely and promised long ago – who has come not to baptise with water, but with the Spirit of God! John the Baptist wants us to see that Jesus is the fountain of the Holy Spirit. That with his Father, Jesus is the source of the Spirit. We will see through the gospel that our heavenly Father gives us his Son, and the Son gives up his life, and then he gives us his Spirit. And all so we can have life. The Son of God… the Spirit of God… these are given freely to us so we might have new life, and life eternal!
I often wonder if any of those who were sent to question John the Baptist – the priests and Levites and Pharisees – ever came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Did they want new life? Did they taste new life? Did they ever realise that this really was ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’?
If we want new life then we need to believe in the source of the Spirit. When we trust in Jesus, in his death for our sins and resurrection for new life, then his Spirit is at work in us, deep in our hearts. And He will remain. He will stick with you. He stays. The Spirit of God that remained with Jesus, will remain with you. In fact, soon in John’s gospel, Jesus will tell us how his Spirit makes his home in us! What a generous gift, from a generous giver, that keeps on giving.
. . .When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Head: Can you remember/find some instances in the Old Testament where people are filled with the Spirit of God?
Heart: Are you filled with the Spirit of God, having new life in Jesus? How does this make you feel – that the same Spirit we see working powerfully in the Old and New Testaments is the same one who is given and remains with us if we are believers in Jesus?
Hands: Let’s ‘step-up’ our belief that God is really at work amongst us. What might you do differently today if you’re not relying on your own ‘power’?
Prayer: Father God, we are so glad that you’re a God who is steadfast and true with not a speck of flightiness or passivity. Thanks that in your amazing plan to rescue us we become the recipients of new life. Thanks that you gave us Jesus and that Jesus has given us his Spirit. Thanks for taking us and making us your own, by the power of your Spirit, which brings us to life. Lord, by your Spirit, please help me to stop toying with darkness. Let your light shine in my whole life so that every part of me is living for you, to glorify your name and to testify to your love.
In Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit we pray,
This Grow Daily was first posted in 2016 with the ‘Spirit of Jesus’ series.