Christ and the Spirit of Christ

Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are inseparable. Where you have one, you will in some way have the other. In fact, the Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11) and “the Spirit of His Son” (Galatians 4:6). Let’s consider some of the ways we see our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit working together.

For starters, they are both present at creation. We read that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2), and we learn in the New Testament that through Jesus all things were made (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2). It is through Jesus that God has spoken to us, and it is through Jesus that we see and hear the wisdom of God. Thus, Jesus is referred to as the Word.

When we read the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of Luke, the Spirit is presented as one who empowers, and works alongside of, Jesus. The Spirit is part of the birth narrative in Luke, as Mary is told that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will have a child (Luke 1:35). When the baby Jesus is brought to the temple, the Holy Spirit is upon a man named Simeon. Simeon identifies the baby as the promised savior (Luke 2:25-32).

At the baptism of Jesus, the Christ is not identified as the son of Mary but rather the beloved Son of God. As such, the Spirit comes upon Jesus (Luke 3:21-22). Full of the Spirit, Jesus is then led into the wilderness to be tempted (Luke 4:1-13). This occasion contains echoes of the Garden of Eden (the devil tells Jesus to eat), and of Israel’s history (Jesus is in the wilderness for a “forty” period—forty days). But Jesus, full of the Spirit, remains fully devoted to His Father. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes that the Spirit is still with Jesus after the temptation. “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).

As it is recorded in Luke, Jesus is now ready to begin His ministry. He heads to the synagogue where he reads from Isaiah, and He “found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon me’” (Luke 4:18). It is the Spirit with whom Jesus will be working to free the captives and make the blind to see.

Empowered by the Spirit, Jesus obeys the Father to the point of death. The writer of Hebrews says that it was “through the Eternal Spirit” (Hebrews 9:14) that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice. But we know that this is not the end of the story. When we turn to the book of Romans, we find that “the Spirit…raised Jesus from the dead” (Romans 8:11). This is why the book of Romans begins by stating that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

The point being made in Romans is that Jesus was dead, but He was made alive. Likewise, we are dead in sin, but at baptism we are made alive through “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead.” After our baptism, we will be tempted, but the Spirit who was with Jesus in the wilderness is also with us in “our weakness” (Romans 8:26). We are so weak that “we do not know how to pray as we should” (Romans 8:26). Fortunately, “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us” and Jesus does as well (Romans 8:26, 34). Praise God that Christ and the Spirit of Christ intercede for us. They’re a powerful team.