Matthew chapter 3

“After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.” – Vs 16

Recently, while doing a study on the role of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life, I ran across this verse. While I had seen it before, this time I saw it in a whole new light. What struck me was that Jesus was not just being “christened” by the Holy Spirit, He was being filled and indwelt by the Holy Spirit in order to begin His earthly ministry. In verse 1 of the very next chapter, Matthew records that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” In the book that bears his name, Luke records this event in this way: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

Jesus, the Son of God, was filled with the Spirit of God, so that He might faithfully and obediently do the will of His Father for which He had been sent. What jumped out at me is that in being filled and led by the Spirit, Jesus was revealing to us and modeling for us just how we are to live the life we have been called to live as His followers. At the point of belief, we receive that same Holy Spirit. And He comes into our lives to provide the same guidance, comfort, and power that He gave to Jesus Himself. But there is a difference between being indwelt with the Spirit and controlled by the Spirit. All believers have the Spirit dwelling in them. It happens at the point of salvation. But not all believers are filled with the Spirit. The difference? Filling means being controlled by the Spirit. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul tells the Ephesian believers, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Paul is giving a command. He wants his readers to be “under the influence” of the Holy Spirit. Just as someone who gets drunk is under the influence of alcohol and does things he normally wouldn’t do, so someone under the control of the Spirit will behave in ways that are not normal or natural. They are subjecting themselves to the will of the Father and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and empower them. When we are filled or controlled by the Spirit as Jesus was, it produces Christ-like character in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another. – Galatians 5:22-23 (NET)

Jesus lived His earthly life completely controlled by the Spirit. In doing so, He was constantly in line with the will of His Father. He didn’t live according to His own desires or under the influence of his flesh. In Galatians 5:16, Paul gives us the key to living our lives in the same way: “But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Like Jesus, we are to live by the Spirit. The Spirit lives within us, but we must listen to his direction. We must allow the Spirit to guide and direct us, to teach us, to illuminate the Scriptures to us, and to increasingly reveal the truth about Christ to us. The Holy Spirit, who filled Jesus, is ready and willing to fill us, so that we might live the same kind of life that He did: faithful, powerful, obedient, and pleasing to God the Father.

“You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:5-8 (NET)

Jesus became a man, just like me, so that He might live the life that I was created to live, but couldn’t because of the influence of sin. While He lived as a man on this earth, Jesus did everything under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had set aside His divine attributes. He had willingly chosen to “shelve” His Godly powers so that He might truly live as a human being on this earth. He didn’t become any less God, but He chose to take on the full characteristics of humanity, so that He might be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity. But He wasn’t defenseless. He had the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit at His disposal 24/7. And He willingly listened to and obeyed the Spirit every step of the way – all the way to Calvary. And I have that same power available to me – within me. And so do you.

Father, thank You for the presence of Your indwelling Spirit. Thank You that I have available to me the same Spirit Who led Jesus during His days here on this earth. I have the same power available to me. He guides me and directs me in the same way He did the Son of God. May I learn to lean on Him more and more. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Matthew chapter 2

“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; but out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” – Vs 6

The story recorded in this chapter is a familiar one. So familiar that we sometimes look past its significance. In it are contained some very important details regarding Jesus’ birth, His deity, and God’s sovereign plan for the redemption of mankind. But one that often gets overlooked is found in verse 6 where Matthew quotes from the Old Testament book of Micah. He is showing that even the location for the birth of the Messiah was in fulfillment of prophesy. Jesus, the Son of God and the Savior of the world, would be born in an obscure little town called Bethlehem, whose only claim to fame was that it was the birthplace of another important icon of Hebrew history: King David.

But not only does this verse tell us of the Messiah’s birthplace, it tells us of His job description. Jesus will be a shepherd of the people of Israel. So not only do Jesus and David share a common birthplace, they share the same occupation. Over in Psalm 78, we read this of David:

“He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.” – Vs 70-72

David and Jesus were both shepherds. David started out as a shepherd of sheep, then God made him a shepherd of the people of Israel. Jesus was to take up where David left off. Why? Because, since the time of David, the people had been shepherdless. Over in the book of Ezekiel, God describes them as sheep “scattered for lack of a shepherd” (Ezekiel 34:5).  The truth was, the shepherds of Israel had not been doing their job. In Jeremiah 23:2, God has this to say about the shepherds or unrighteous rulers of Israel:

“ Therefore thus the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: ‘You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,’ declares the Lord.”

Back in the book of Ezekiel, God had some rather harsh words for these worthless leaders:

“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? … Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I shall demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep.  So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I shall deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them’” – Ezekiel 34:2, 10

Since the time of David, there had been no godly leadership to shepherd the people of God. Oh, there had been a few, but they had been few and far between.  So God allowed the people of Israel to end up in captivity. He had ended the reign of the kings of Israel. Over the coming years, Israel would find itself persecuted, occupied and controlled by enemy forces, and waiting longingly for their coming Messiah. They were anticipating a conquering king who would rescue them from persecution and restore them to their former greatness. They were looking for another David. And Matthew reminds his Jewish readers that Jesus did come as another David, but not as a conquering king, but as a servant shepherd. Oh, he will rule, but His kingdom will not be of this earth. Jesus, the Messiah, was coming to deliver the flock of God. He came to shepherd, care for, and lead the sheep back to spiritual health.

Just take a look at a few of these verses that describe Jesus the shepherd:

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will…” – Hebrews 13:20-21

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” – 1 Peter 5:4

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:25

“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them no any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:16-17

Jesus is the good shepherd, the great shepherd, and the chief shepherd. He is the one who has come to restore God’s people to a right relationship with Him. He has come to gather the lost and heal the sick and wounded. He came to lay down His life for the sheep.

Father, thank You for sending Your Son, the Great Shepherd, to find me when I was lost and restore me to a right relationship with You. He loves me, guides me, feeds me, and protects me. Thank you that when men could not shepherd Your sheep, You provided the one, true shepherd – Jesus Your Son. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men