Luke’s account of the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry has layers of meaning for us.
On one level, everything in the biography of Jesus is a singular historical event – the unrepeatable work of the Son of God for the salvation of the world.
On another level, the life and work of Jesus was a model for his followers throughout history.
There are three lessons we can take away from Jesus, the model man on mission for the kingdom of God, for all of us who follow.
1. Being before doing.
and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” -Luke 3:22
The message we hear constantly every day of our lives is a formula of works. Do x, so that you can have y and therefore become z.
Lose weight, so that you can have an acceptable appearance and therefore become loved.
Gain wealth, so that you can have status and therefore become respected.
It’s a formula as old as humanity itself – a virus inserted into the code of our dna by an enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy life.
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Eat the fruit, so that you can have knowledge and therefore become invulnerable.
Many of us learn a religious version of this formula. Practice spiritual disciplines and be on mission, so that you can have Christian maturity and therefore become righteous.
In every form, this formula of doing before being is destructive.
in Jesus, the Father introduced a new formula. At the inauguration of his ministry, before he had done anything, the Father recognized the identity of Jesus. This is my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.
Being before doing. Everything Jesus did was an overflow of his being, his identity.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–
Everyone who believes in Jesus – his life, death and resurrection -and receives him as Savior and Lord enters into this new formula of being.
The message of sonship which Jesus received in the water, is repeated with each new child of God.
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
The moment you receive Jesus, you enter into the eternal affirmation of being that was revealed to the world at the baptism of Jesus. You gain an identity that comes before anything you do.
Your value, your honor, your security – it’s not waiting out there for you to achieve. It’s already yours. You are a son of God. You are a daughter of God. You can’t have more value than that.
This is the being that flows into all true doing for the kingdom of God.
2. Preparation before productivity
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. -Luke 4:1-2a
Is that surprising? The beautiful Holy Spirit testimony of sonship is followed immediately by the Spirit driving Jesus into the wilderness for a long season of hunger and temptation.
This has layers of meaning. In the 40 days of desert wandering, Jesus was successfully resisting the test that the people of Israel failed during their 40 years of wandering. He was living out the righteous requirements of the law for the salvation of the world.
And he was living a model for us.
There is a pattern in the lives of those God uses for his purposes.
1. Calling. 2. Preparation and testing. 3. Productive labor.
It’s everywhere isn’t it? Abraham and Sara waiting for the promised son. Moses shepherding in desert obscurity for 40 years. David hiding in caves for years. Peter denying Jesus and returning to the fishing boats. Paul exiled by persecution for years in Damascus.
In these seasons, we are tempted to lose sight of our identity. We are tempted to doubt our calling.
We must remember that these seasons come because of our identity. For the sake of our calling.
They come because God wants us to be believers. He wants us to grow and become seasoned in faith.
They come because God want empty vessels. He wants to use people ready to abandon their pride and their self effort to become empty vessels of his eternal power.
3. Power from above
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit… (3:16)
the Holy Spirit descended on him… (3:22)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (4:1)
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit and news about him spread (4:14)
Do you see the theme?
I believe Luke’s intention in his writing is to make something very clear to us.
He intends to bring to the surface a reality that is buried for most of us.
Everything God does in this world is by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus himself took on a nature in his incarnation that was completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit. His ministry was a moment by moment yielding to the power of the Spirit.
It was only after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit in the waters of the Jordan that he had the power for subsequent ministry.
This is a pattern for us.
It is only when we have received a baptism of the Holy Spirit in power that we become truly qualified for labor in the field of God’s mission.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown