Jesus was led by the Spirit

Jesus stepped out of his sandals and into the muddy Jordan. For the first time he noticed the weariness of his feet as the river drifted lazily over them. He had traveled south for three days to get to where the baptizer was working.

 “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord!”John’s voice stirred the crowd that had gathered. Jesus stepped forward into the deeper water drawing ever closer to the one who was baptizing. There was a hint of wonder in John’s tone as he asked Jesus the question, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus smiled and answered, “This is the proper way to do everything God requires of us.”

Descending into the water, Jesus felt the urge to pray.  His lips were moving in a prayer even as he was going under. As he came up from the muddy water, he lifted his face to heaven and kept praying. Earlier he had discovered some of what his Father was asking him do, and now he was affirming his willingness . . . and waiting.

The clouds parted. The sun shone brightly. Or was it more than the sun? For those standing on the shore it appeared as if heaven’s light was shining only on a man in the middle of the river. His face and hands were uplifted in prayer . . . still waiting.

John stepped back, his eyes drawn heavenward in wonder. He had baptized hundreds before, but the likes of this he had never seen. The light was descending. Slowly. Holding . . . Holding . . . Holding. Floating like a dove over the waiting man. Then suddenly the light was gone — almost as if it had entered the man standing waist deep in the river.

It was only then that they heard his voice, the source indistinguishable, but not the words. “This is my Son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Still standing in the river, Jesus lowered his hands. He looked around at the people’s faces and smiled. They were the reason he had come. He began to move towards the shore. As he did, he felt within him a power he had not previously known. It was through this power that he could help them in their greatest need.

For those who were watching from the shoreline, it appeared as though he left the river differently than he went in. He had gone in of his own accord, but as he neared the shore, it was as if someone was leading him.  Like a guide, but invisible to the eyes of the watchers. . .

Taken from Just Like Jesus-biblical strategies for growing well by Phil Moser, pages 39-40. Available at

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?

Among the gospel writers only Luke recorded that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. The word he chose was one that communicates abounding, abundant, complete and perfect. The tendency may be to think of this as a unique relationship that the Holy Spirit had with Jesus because of their previous relationship within the Godhead. But Luke used the same terminology in the book of Acts to describe the church’s first martyr, Steven.

God wants us to know that being “full of the Holy Spirit” is something that can happen to those who are fully human. This filling was both true of Jesus and Stephen, and it can be true of us too. To be full of the Holy Spirit is to be under his control. Jesus entered the wilderness under the control of the Spirit (Luke 4:1).

Paul gives an even clearer understanding of the Spirit controlled life in his letter to the Ephesians.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18 – NLT).

When someone has had too much to drink, we say that they are no longer “in control.” By becoming intoxicated they have chosen to relinquish their control to another substance. This is the meaning behind the word filled. Paul warns the believers not to be “under the control” of the alcohol, but rather be “under the control of the Holy Spirit.”

He carefully formed the word “be filled” to reveal four essential elements about our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Each of these is hidden in the Greek grammar. Among other things, the Greek language communicates the meaning of its verbs through mood, form, voice, and tense.

(1) This isn’t optional.

Be filled is in the imperative mood. The imperative mood is one of command. When our mom gave a command we knew it wasn’t optional.  God wanted us to know that being filled with the Spirit is not optional and so he chose the mood of command.

(2) This is for all of us.

Be filled is in the plural form. Being filled with the Spirit is not simply for a few – the spiritually elite or hyper-religious. It is a command given for each of us. No one is excluded from this command, and so God chose the “all-inclusive” plural form.

(3) This happens to us, not by us.

Be filled is in the passive voice. The active voice is the doer of the action, but the passive voice is the receiver of the action. Imagine I am holding a pitcher filled with water, and you are holding an empty glass. If you wish for your glass to be filled then as I begin pouring the water from the pitcher you don’t fill your glass you simply move your glass so that I can fill it. This isn’t simply true of pitchers and glasses. We need to put our open hearts in close proximity to where the Holy Spirit is active.

(4) This is a repeated event.

Be filled is in the present tense. Some have properly translated it “be being filled.” The present tense reveals a daily, moment by moment repeated event. I remember an old preacher who once said he needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day, because he leaked! That’s a good reminder for all of us.