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As a man and as the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth led a Spirit-saturated existence. From conception to resurrection he was “anointed” (mashach) of God “with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and] went about doing good...” (Acts 10:38). To carry on his good work of advancing the in-breaking Kingdom of God in human affairs, Jesus pledged to build a “church” (ekklesia), a community of faithful disciples that would bear his name and his mission after his departure.
Even as he had embodied the fullness of Deity in the earth (Colossians 2:19), they now would embody the fullness of his humanity in a continuing way. They would be to others what he had been to them. To accomplish this would require the same Spirit that had anointed, empowered and guided Messiah Jesus.
According to Luke’s gospel, therefore, Yeshua’s last recorded words to his disciples consisted of a promise and a command, both relating to the Spirit. Addressing them as his “witnesses” Jesus promised that he would send upon them the Holy Spirit from the Father. He ordered them to remain in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high” by that Spirit (Luke 24:49).
Just as the congregation of Israel (adat Yisrael) required the covering of the Shekhinah clouds of God’s glory on its journey from redemption to the Promised Land, so the congregation that Jesus established (adat Yeshua), required the clothing of the Spirit for its servant mission to bear witness to the world that “Messiah is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).
The New Testament writings bear abundant witness to the reality, scope and influence of the Holy Spirit upon the life and witness of the early church.
The Spirit was essential for ...
Authentic Worship: For Jesus and his followers genuine worship must be done “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Paul confirms: “We ... worship by the Spirit of God ... and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
Intimacy with the Father: It is through the Holy Spirit that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Romans 5:5). Because of Messiah both Jew and Gentile “have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18) – enabling their hearts to cry out in fervent intimacy, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
Holy Living: Those who “live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) and thereby are given understanding of the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:13) and are sanctified in obedience to Jesus the Messiah (1 Peter 1:2). Indeed those who walk according to the Spirit will fulfill the “righteous requirement of the Torah” (Romans 8:4).
Building up the Body: Varieties of gifts, ministries and activities are given by the Spirit to each member of the adat Yeshua for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4–7). As each believer does his/her part the Body of Messiah is built up in love (Ephesians 4:16).
Bearing Spiritual Fruit: The congregation, like its Master, exhibits love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self- control when its members “walk by the Spirit” and are “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16–23).
Fostering Unity: Unity is a cherished value in Jewish tradition. The Apostolic Writings stress a unity born of the Spirit (not a ‘spirit of unity’) that coheres the community and advances its mission. Each member is exhorted therefore to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
Furthering the Kingdom: The Kingdom of God, at its core, pertains to “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 4:17). The Spirit represents the King’s presence in the midst of his people and is the power that propels his agenda toward its fulfillment.
Before the Day of Pentecost: Jesus commanded his redeemed disciples to tarry until the promised Spirit was poured out upon them. Thereafter, the Apostle Paul’s continuing command to the congregation that bears his name, the adat Yeshua, is to “be filled (again and again) with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18; cf. Acts 13:52).
The Holy Spirit was essential for Jesus of Nazareth. How much more for the people of faith today that are to carry on his mission and message?