I realize that the title of this post is a provocative one, and it is meant to be. However, there is no greater example of a Spirit filled person than the Savior Himself. He is the greatest example of charismatic spirituality that ever lived. Follow along:
Matthew 1:18 tells us how Jesus was born of the Spirit.
Matthew 3:13-17 describes how He was baptized and anointed by the Spirit. Before this He never did a single miracle, and we’ll talk about that more as we go along.
John 3:34 says that Jesus had the Spirit without measure.
Scripture further describes all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12 operating in Jesus’ ministry with the exception of tongues and interpretation
- Wisdom- Luke 22:10-13; John 2:22-25
- Knowledge-John 4:16-18
- Discernment- Matthew 9:4
- Prophecy -Matthew 24
- Faith-Matthew 17:20
- Healing-Matthew 8:5-13; 9:1-7
- Miracles-Matthew 8:26; John 2:1-10
The Bible doesn’t say conclusively whether or not Jesus spoke in tongues, although it does say that He “rejoiced in the Spirit” (Luke 10:21) and “groaned in the Spirit” (John11:33). This terminology is very similar to the term “Praying in the Spirit,” which Paul uses to describe praying in tongues (1 Corinthians 14: 14-16). However, even if Jesus did not speak in tongues, there are a number of possible reasons why. For example, since He was sinless, He had perfect communication with the Father, and therefore, He did not need tongues. Also, He was the last person to function as a prophet under the Old Covenant. Tongues are a New Testament phenomenon.
Even if Jesus didn’t personally speak in tongues, He Himself stated that tongues would be a normative sign to follow believers (Mark 16:17). We will discuss this more in a moment, but it is important to note that all of the twelve disciples and even Jesus’ mother Mary spoke in tongues (Acts 2:1-4). In fact, the entire New Testament was written by people who spoke in tongues.
Many people who read the accounts of Jesus’ miracles assume that the reason He was able to do them was because of His divinity. Of course, He was God in the flesh, the second Person of the Godhead. That never changed. However, I would like to draw your attention to an important Scripture which puts this into a different context. That passage is Philippians 2:7, which we will examine in a number of different translations:
- King James: “…But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”
- New American Standard: “…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
- New Living Translation: “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,”
When it describes Jesus as “emptying” Himself, the Greek word is keneo, which means “to empty, deprive of content, to render void.” When Jesus was on earth, He never stopped being God, but He did empty Himself of some of His privileges as God. That was the only way He could fully identify with humanity. He got tired. He got hungry. And this was why He wasn’t able to do miracles until He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus didn’t have the power to do miracles because He was God, although He certainly was. But Jesus had the power to do miracles because He was a man who had been filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that is how He can offer that same power to you and me today!
How is this possible? We will now look at John 14:12, which is one of Jesus’ most intriguing statements. Again, we will examine it from a variety of translations:
- King James: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
- New American Standard: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”
- New Living Translation: “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
By the time the disciples heard Jesus say these remarkable words, they had already seen Him walk on water, feed the multitudes, heal the sick and even raise the dead! Now, He is saying that those who believe on Him could also do, not only these things, but even greater things? How can this even begin to be possible? We find our answer in the surrounding verses:
- “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever…(John 14:16,NIV).”
- “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26, NIV).”
- “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you (John 16:7, NIV).”
As we have previously discussed, the Holy Spirit has always been in the world, but Jesus’ death would make it possible to relate to Him in a way that had never before been possible. While in the Old Testament, the Spirit would come on select people for certain select purposes. Now, He would be coming to indwell believers individually and be with them forever! It would no longer be necessary to physically seek Jesus out. His presence would be abiding in His people to continue His work on a far wider scale than it ever could have while He was physically on the earth.
Following His death and resurrection (which was also a work of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:11), Jesus appears to His disciples. What happens next is fascinating. In John 20:22, it states that Jesus breathed on His disciples and told them to “…receive ye the Holy Ghost.”” This word “breathed” is very interesting. This particular Greek word enephysēsen, is only seen one other time in the entire Bible. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is used when God “breathed” His breath of life into man. So just like God breathed His breath of life into man at creation, He breathed the breath of new life into man here.
Finally, we come to the Great Commission. The Gospels give us two accounts of Jesus’ parting instructions to His people before He returned to Heaven. The first can be found in Matthew chapter 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
The commission is stated once again in Mark chapter 16:15-18, but with some important supplemental details:
And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
In other words, the proclamation of the Gospel was to be accompanied by miraculous signs, not only in the first century, but to the “end of the age.” Jesus’ words in both accounts should be read in light of His previous promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The miraculous works mentioned in Mark’s account are simply describing the works which the Spirit had already been working in Jesus’ life and which we would see Him doing in the Book of Acts and beyond.
There are revisionist theologians who argue that verses 9-20 of Mark’s account are not authentic and were added at a later date. Of course, even if that were true, it would still verify that miraculous works such as tongues and healing were still very much a part of the church’s belief and practice beyond the first century. It would also affirm that this miraculous power was intended for “them that believe,” i.e. all believers, not just apostles. However, a look at the facts will quickly prove that these verses are quite genuine and are perfectly at home in the Gospel narrative.
Just because a passage may be missing from certain manuscripts does not mean it is not authentic. Many of the ancient documents are incomplete and had to be assembled by comparing them to other manuscripts. For example, one manuscript that omits these verses, Codex Vaticanus, still contains a blank space where the verse should be. Furthermore, there are literally hundreds of manuscripts including Greek, Syrian, Latin, Gothic, Egyptian and Armenian versions which do contain these verses. They are also confirmed by the ancient church fathers, who repeatedly attribute these words to Mark’s Gospel (1).
In addition, the sort of signs mentioned in this passage are seen prominently throughout the remainder of the New Testament Examples include:
- Casting Out Devils (Exorcism): Acts 16:16-18; 19:13-20
- Speaking in Tongues: Acts 2:1-4; 18:14-24; 10:44-46; 19:2-7;1 Corinthians 12:30; 4-15
- Protection from Snakebite: Acts 28:1-6 (see note 2 below)
- Healing the Sick: Acts 3:6-8; 5:15; 9:32-34; 14:8-10; 20:1-12; 1 Corinthians 12:9; James 5:14-18 (see note 3 below)
With this being established, we will return to Jesus’ parting instructions to His disciples, this time from the Book of Acts, chapter 1, verses 1-11:
In my first book[a] I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom? He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, +why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go (NLT)!”
The paradigm was about to shift. The representative of the Godhead in the earth was about to change. This was to be an eternal turning point in God’s relationship with humanity. The same Spirit which had empowered Jesus to do the mighty works He did would be available to all who would believe, including us!
NOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY:
1-Edwards, Troy. Miracles Are For Today. © 2010. Victorious Word Christian Publishing, Central Falls, RI. pp 59-71.
2-This is does NOT refer to the erroneous practice of deliberately handling venomous snakes and drinking poison. As Pentecostal scholar Finis Dake observes:
“The whole idea is immunity from snake bites (as in Acts 28:1-5) and power over them in conflict (as in Luke 10:19; Psalm 91:13). Handling snakes in public is no more proof that one has faith or that he is a Christian than the snake charmers of India or Burma, who are better at this than Christians, and who do not even believe in Christ.” (taken from the Dake’s Annotated Referance Bible).
Those who practice these things are tiny fringe groups, and are certainly NOT endorsed by any mainline Pentecostal church or denomination. We can never forget the solemn command of Jesus “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord.” (Matthew 4:7).
3-This does not, in any way, preclude the use of doctors and medical science. God used a physician named Luke to write two books in the New Testament. Many believe he was one of the early medical missionaries.