This is an outline of the notes that I use to teach my Wednesday evening class on the sayings and the life of Jesus.
The Heart of the Lesson: Jesus was conceived and empowered by the Holy Spirit and he teaches the disciples about the role of the Spirit in walking by faith, even while encountering hostility of the spiritually blind.
Today’s Term: Counselor – meaning the Spirit is our advocate and helper who leads them in the truth; the paraklete, “the one who comes along side.”
The Spirit in the Life of Jesus:
- Conceived by the Spirit (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35)
- The Spirit leads Simeon to the Hope of Israel (Luke 2:25-27)
- The Spirit was upon him (Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2)
Spirit, Wind, Breath (John 3:8)
- Jesus talks with Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again.
- Jesus is using a play on words that we don’t catch in English. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek all use the word for “wind” (pneuma). The wind blows where it pleases, but John 3:8 can also be translated, “the Spirit blows wherever it pleases” or even “the Spirit breaths whenever it pleases.”
- Nicodemus would have easily connected this teaching to the beginning of Genesis, the Spirit hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2). This can also be translated the wind or breath was hovering. All three suggest something alive and powerful, beyond the control of any person or religious group.
- The Spirit is inexpiable. Theologians often omit teaching on the Spirit because he is so difficult to understand.
- After the ascension, the Spirit came upon them (Acts 2:2) and empowered them to carry out the mission that Jesus left to the church. Where God’s Spirit blows, great things happen.
- The Jews Christians tried to maintain control through circumcision, Sabbath observance, and food laws, but the Spirit moved them past these. Paul tells the church not to put out the Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The Flesh Counts for Nothing (John 6:63, 66)
- The words of Jesus are life, more than our need for food. They wanted to make Jesus a bread king and intended to take him by force.
- Jesus puts out a hard teaching (John 6:60) and they take offense and grumble, and even leave. But the disciples realize that Jesus alone has the words of life.
- Others were not interested in the life that the Spirit was giving them. They sought the material when Jesus brought the spiritual. “The flesh counts for nothing” is one of the most profound statements of Jesus.
- Gnostics took that statement out of context, saying it proved the material world is evil and much be neglected, only the spiritual mattered.
- Or they stressed the opposite, the sins committed in the flesh were not important since the Spirit is all that mattered.
- Jesus’ point is the necessity of salvation, eternal life comes from the Spirit.
Pouring the Spirit (John 7:37-39)
- As people left Jesus because the teaching was too difficult, others became even more thirsty (Matthew 5:6). Water is essential to life and Jesus talks about this “living water.”
- The Spirit being “poured out” is common language (Isaiah 44:3, 32:15, Ezekiel 39:29, Zechariah 12:10, Joel 2:28-29, Acts 10:45, Romans 5:5).
The Counselor (John 14:16-17, 14:26, 15:26, 16:8-11)
- The NT mentions the personal nature of the Spirit, a HE rather than an IT.
- Counselor comes from paraklete, to come along side, like a helper or court advocate.
- The Counselor is both with and in the believer. He is not of this world.
- The Spirit came upon some OT characters: Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, even John the Baptist.
- The Spirit of truth will teach the disciples all things at the time it is needed.
- Discerning falsehood (1 Corinthians 2:10, Ephesians 3:5)
- Spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10)
- Spiritual understanding (1 Corinthians 2:11-13)
- Spiritual assistance (Romans 8:26)
- John’s inclusion of the Spirit as Counselor when the synoptics do not: the apostles were dying off (martyrs) and they needed encouragement that Jesus was always present even through through to the end.
- Fears about Jesus’ delay in returning (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
- As decades passed, people became skeptical (2 Peter 3:3-8)
Breathing Out the Spirit (John 20:19-22)
- We usually look back to the upper room at Pentecost as the birthday of the church but forget that the disciples had already received the Spirit (John 20:22). Perhaps the Acts 2 story is about receiving the Spirit in power (Acts 1:8).
- Peace is the Hebrew word shalom often spoken at times of divine connection: Gideon (Judges 6:23, Daniel (Daniel 10:19). They get the message of peace three times (John 20:19, 21, 26). This is likely more than just a greeting.
- The Spirit is often connected to peace (Romans 14:17, Galatians 5:22, Romans 8:6).
- Jesus breathes on them, pneuma (Greek) and ruach (Hebrew) both meaning breath of spirit; he is creating something new.
- As God breathes life into Adam (Genesis 2:7)
- As God breathes life into the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:8).
- We are sent out ones: apostolos.
- Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20)
- Commissioned to go out (Matthew 28:18-20)
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32)
- So, the unpardonable sin. Context proves this is not difficult at all.
- A blind and mute man is possessed by a demon, which Jesus drives out. One would think this is the Messiah but the religious few have an assumption that Jesus’ power comes from the devil, not God. They say that Jesus has the power of demons because he in in cahoots with demons.
- Beelzabub (2 Kings 1:2-6) is a name applied to the god of Ekron, meaning “lord of the flies” or “Baal the Prince.” So, the Jews would think the devil is the “prince of demons.”
- Jesus’ response to them indicates they were being illogical. Satan is evil but he is not stupid, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
- The devil is not the issue here, it is that Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with Us” (Matthew 1:23), not the “devil with us.”
- Attributing the miracles of God to the devil is evidence of a totally perverse mind and reprobate heart. Woe to those who call good evil… (Isaiah 5:20).
- Peter responded to Jesus, “depart from me I am a sinner” (Luke 5:8) but the opposite is true of the Pharisees, they say that Jesus is the sinner.
- In Luke 11:20, Luke uses the phrase, “finger of God” reminiscent of the court of Pharaoh (Exodus 8:19).
- Speak against Jesus and you can be forgiven, but not against the Spirit.
- People who reject Jesus as the Messiah can be forgiven if they later come to faith (Acts 7:51 – we all do this at first). If you worry about blaspheming the Holy Spirit, it is a good indication that you have not.
- Blasphemy against the Spirit, accusing God of evil, cannot be forgiven. If a man sins against the Lord who will intercede for him (1 Samuel 2:25). Once they had decided that Jesus’ power was from the devil, they were rejecting the only provision for their salvation, and there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12).
- Jesus says that he who is not with me is against me (Matthew 12:30). He is saying that to not decide is to decide (against him). There is no neutrality or thinking about deciding tomorrow. In a war, one must choose sides.
- In Mark’s version, his family is coming to take charge of him because he has lost his mind (Mark 3:20-27).
- His enemies believe he is in league with the devil and is a liar (Mark 2:7)
- His family thinks he is an insane lunatic (Mark 3:21)
- The demons know who he is the Lord… the Son of God (Mark 1:24, 3:11).