Disciples Are Dependent

by | Jan 10, 2018

Disciples Are Dependent

by | Jan 10, 2018

There’s a powerful moment at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. After he was baptized by John at the Jordan River, it says:

As soon as Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased. (Mark 1:10-11)

From other gospels, we know there was a crowd around Jesus who could all hear the voice from heaven. It had been 400 years since anyone’s heard the voice of God, and then out of the blue it came like thunder: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” God’s first words in centuries were to give this unknown carpenter from Nazareth nearly the same blessing he gave to King David in Psalm 2.

And with the blessing came the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Doves have always been a symbol of peace, the bearers of good news. So with these visible signs and audible words, no one could doubt God’s affirmation. Jesus didn’t just have a vague feeling that he was accepted and affirmed by his Father, it was a concrete reality communicated through the Holy Spirit. And he desperately needed it. We know Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, so he was tempted toward the same anxiety, insecurity, and loneliness we all feel. So he was depending on his father’s approval and acceptance. He had to know he was in.

We all need to be in somewhere. Middle schoolers get nervous at lunchtime: “Who do I sit with?” Adults get nervous at greeting time at church: “Who do I talk to?” We’re all not sure where we fit in, but Jesus shows us a disciple is dependent on the Father’s affirmation. A disciple is confident in this truth: “I’m in with God!”

Jesus also showed us dependence on the Holy Spirit’s power. Which is a strange thought for some people. Why would Jesus need the Spirit? He’s God! Can’t he fight sin, do good deeds, and perform miracles by his own power? Yes, but it says repeatedly in the gospels and Acts that he came in the power of the Spirit. Bruce Ware explained this in The Man Christ Jesus: “The only way to make sense of the fact that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit is to understand that he lived his life fundamentally as a man, and so he relied on the Spirit to provide the power, grace, knowledge, wisdom, direction, and enablement he needed, moment by moment and day by day.”

Jesus lived primarily as a man, and as a man he was dependent on the Spirit. That’s why you can always find him praying in the gospels. Depending on the Spirit in prayer. In A Praying Life, Paul Miller went so far as to say, “Jesus is, without question, the most dependent human being who ever lived. He can’t do life on his own, so he prays. And he prays. And he prays.”

Because disciples are dependent on the power of the Spirit. The Wind of God, as he’s called throughout the Bible.

You’ve probably experienced the powerful wind at the Pali Lookout. Most days it’s blowing hard enough to knock you off your feet. And when the tradewinds are really pumping, it’s unbelievable. In fact, there’s an urban legend I’ve heard for years. I know guys who know guys who go up to the Pali Lookout when the wind is ripping. They caaaaaarefully climb up on top of the railing. Then they slooooooowly lean out over the edge. They’re staring straight down the cliff. The only thing that’s holding them up — the only thing that’s saving them from falling a thousand feet down the cliff — is the wind.

That’s the kind of dependence we need on the Spirit. Disciples depend on God for their very lives, each moment of every day.