The Holy Spirit in the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The concept of the trinity, three persons with one nature, is beyond any earthly comparison or concept. They are one in possessing the unique essence of deity and working together to accomplish every purpose, yet each maintaining His distinct role within the Godhead in carrying out those purposes. Though transcending our understanding, we bow to its truth as revealed throughout Scripture. One of the characteristics of the Godhead is how it jealously guards the honor of each member. The Lord Jesus, while here on earth, always sought what honored His Father. In a similar manner, the Spirit of God was active in every aspect of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, both guarding His honor and giving power to His works. The Spirit of God was intimately involved in every aspect of the Lord’s life and death. Notice His involvement in His:


The Spirit and His Begetting

We need extreme care when we speak or write of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus. No room can be allowed for imagination or any attempt to explain or reconcile this miracle in terms of human medical knowledge. He was begotten by the Holy Spirit of God and conceived in the womb of Mary. It was the “seed of the woman.” We read that Mary conceived in her womb (Luk 2:21). I would say with great reverence that Mary’s womb was not a mere incubator but the very place where He was conceived.

The Spirit and His Body

The Godhead can be seen in the incarnation of the Lord. We read in Hebrews 10 that it was a body prepared by God the Father; Hebrews 2:14 tells us that He (the Lord Jesus) “took part of the same” blood and flesh, which is humanity. Finally, in Luke we see the action of the Spirit of God in His being begotten by the Spirit and in the body prepared.

The Spirit and a Man Without Blemish or Spot

Theologians have grappled with the problem of how a fallen creature such as Mary could conceive a child in whom the problem of sin in the flesh was absent. The doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary as offered by Rome only pushes the problem one generation earlier. Far better to stop where the Scriptures of truth stop: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee …” (Luk 1:35).[1] The protective power of the Spirit of God was operative in preserving Him while in the womb, and thus came forth “that Holy thing.”


The Spirit of God could not allow the greatest act of selfless condescension to go unnoticed. He prompted testimonies from at least three individuals at the birth of the Lord Jesus to remove any hint that this was a “normal” child coming into the world. Having written that last sentence, I need to add that there is a very real sense that this was the only “normal” person who ever lived. He came with no sin, no personality quirks, no brokenness at all. He was balanced and fruitful from the moment of His coming into the world. Unlike the rest of humanity who, as we grow, increase in guilt, He grew and increased in grace (Luk 2:40). It is Luke especially who draws our attention to how carefully the Spirit of God guards the deity of the Lord Jesus.

The first person whom the Spirit of God summoned to testify to the Lord Jesus was Elizabeth. Her words clearly set Him apart. Filled with the Holy Spirit (1:41), she spoke of “the mother of my Lord” (v43). The Babe in the womb of Mary, possibly only one month into her pregnancy, is owned by Elizabeth as “my Lord.”

Next to be constrained by the Spirit of God was Zacharias. Once again, we are told that he was filled with the Holy Spirit (v67), and spoke of his son, John, as going before the “face of Jehovah” (v76) and of the Lord as the Dayspring from on high having visited His people.

Last, Simeon, led by the Spirit and with the Holy Spirit “upon him,” testified to all that the child in his arms was none other than God’s salvation, the light to Gentile nations and the glory of the nation of Israel (2:25-32).


From Heaven

In the typology of the offerings, the meal offering was both mingled with oil and anointed with oil. The great antitype of that offering, the Lord Jesus, was both begotten of the Spirit and anointed by the Spirit. That anointing took place as a public manifestation at His baptism. As the Lord Jesus rose out of the waters of baptism and stood on the banks of the Jordan, heaven was opened and the Spirit in dove-like form descended upon Him, anointing Him for the public service upon which He was about to enter. The Father would distinguish His Son from all others who entered those waters.

From the Herald

John owned that this was the very sign for which he was looking and which would seal his ministry: “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he” (Joh 1:33). In this manner, the Spirit of God marked Him out to John, who, in turn, could present Him to the nation as God’s Lamb (v29).

From the Hellish Enemy

Mark’s language is graphic as he states, “And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness … tempted of Satan” (Mar 1:12,13). Luke adds that at the conclusion of the temptation “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luk 4:14). So assured was the Spirit of God (who would never lead any into a path of sin) of the impeccable nature of this Man that He led Him into combat with the Satanic majesty, knowing the conclusion of the battle.


The service and life of the Lord Jesus as lived in and through the power of the Spirit could well deserve an article in its own right. Returning to Nazareth after His fame was spread abroad, He ascribed all He did to the Spirit of God (Luk 4:18). The Servant Song of Isaiah 42 also speaks of the Spirit of God and His service (v1). The Lord spoke of casting out demons by the Spirit of God (Mat 12:28) and did not boast of His own ability. Here is the one to whom the Father did not “give the Spirit by measure” (Joh 3:34). He moved in the power of an ungrieved Spirit all the days of His service for God, and in all the day-to-day activities of life for those 33 years. He ascribed His power to the Spirit of God and His Words to His Father. What a selfless Servant!


In Hebrews 9:14 we are told that Christ, “through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.” It is difficult to add anything better to this than what J.N. Darby has already penned: “He offered Himself to God, but as moved by the power, and according to the perfection of the eternal Spirit. All the motives that governed this action, and the accomplishment of the fact according to those motives, were purely and perfectly those of the Holy Spirit; that is, absolutely divine in their perfection, but of the Holy Spirit acting in a man (a man without sin who, born and living ever by the power of the Holy Spirit, had never known sin; who, being exempt from it by birth, never allowed it to enter into Him).”

The entire Godhead was thus involved in the great work of the cross – the Son offering Himself, the Spirit of God the controller of all, and God the Father receiving the offering.



He was proclaimed as the Son of God by virtue of His resurrection, which Romans 1 ascribes to the Spirit of holiness (v4). Romans 8:11 also ascribes the resurrection of the Lord Jesus to the Spirit of God. While the day of His ultimate vindication is yet future, the Lord Jesus has been vindicated to His own by resurrection.


The day of Pentecost was an additional vindication of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the preaching of Peter on that day reveals: “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted … he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Act 2:33). The outpouring of the Spirit of God was done by the Lord Jesus Christ as He, the baptizer, baptized the company on that day “in” the Spirit of God to form the Body of Christ. It was a living Savior who sent the Spirit of God back into the world (Joh 16:7).


The Promise of the Savior

The Upper Room ministry of the Lord Jesus contains many wonderful, comforting and challenging truths. Among the things revealed to the disciples was that He was going to send the Spirit of God into the world to empower them for testimony (Joh 15:26). After His resurrection (20:22), He breathed on them and gave the Spirit for power (this is not the same as what occurred at Pentecost).

The Power for Preaching

Acts 1:2 tells us that the Lord gave commandments through the Spirit to the apostles. Among them, and well known to us, are the commands to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This was done throughout the book of the Acts in the power and fellowship of the Spirit of God.

It should bow our hearts in worship that our Lord Jesus Christ, in His condescending grace, possessed of all the power of deity, chose to live as a dependent Man in this world, doing all that He did through the power of the Spirit of God, owning all His “success” to the Spirit and not to Himself.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.