As we look through the Gospels, we see that after the time of temptation in the desert, Jesus enters into His public ministry. While the other gospels do not record it, Matthew says that it was when John got thrown in prison, that Jesus began to preach and teach (Matthew 4:12-17). Maybe, He needed that push of His own family being mistreated/beheaded to get Him to follow God’s call in His life. Maybe, His only goal was to take up John’s ministry as a preacher and a prophet. Either way, He came back from the desert, heard about John’s arrest and begin to move into a full-time ministry. I spent about 5 hours this week comparing the gospel accounts of this time in Jesus’ life and I keep seeing something very important. He stayed focused on what the Holy Spirit had called Him to do.
Jesus’ calling that was placed on Him by ‘the anointing of the Holy Spirit,’ as described in Isaiah 61:1-3, was “…to preach good tidings to the meek… to bind up the brokenhearted… to proclaim liberty… and the opening of the prisons…to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn… to give to them beauty, oil of joy and a garment of praise…” Is this a huge calling or what? And it wasn’t easy for Him either, from the start, He was rejected from preaching in the temple (Luke 4:12-17). His mother was pulling Him in one direction (John 2:1-2), while John was doubting Jesus’ calling (Matthew 9:14). Crowds were beginning to follow Him around as a celebrity. And, yet, through it all, Jesus stayed focused on His ministry. Here are 3 ways that the Holy Spirit helped Jesus stay focused on His calling throughout His time on here on earth.
The Holy Spirit Gave Jesus Guidance. We see at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was attending a family wedding with His Mom. During the week long ceremony, the wedding couple ran into a huge problem – they ran out of the wine that was being served. Mary pulls Him aside and tells Him the problem. Jesus’ reply is that it isn’t time yet. He said no to peer pressure to make a big performance. For some of us, this may mean refusing to pray in front of a large group, because the attention may be diverted away from God to ourselves. For others, it may mean staying with the preschoolers instead of moving up to teach adults, because you know where your calling is. It could even mean that you stay in hospitality work in the background rather than ever lead a Bible study. Why? Because you are focused on what God has called you to do. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a (God’s) voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” When you are walking with the Holy Spirit, you are able to hear if God wants you to do something or not. Maybe Mary’s idea was a good one, maybe she was just trying to help out or push Him to His full potential. However, Jesus clearly knew that the Holy Spirit was NOT leading Him to ‘perform’ in front of everyone and He was willing to follow God over the crowds.
The Holy Spirit Gave Jesus Joy and Peace. Luke 4 says that Jesus began to preach in the synagogue, but was rejected. They said He was a nobody, just ‘Joseph’s son.’ Later, they got so upset at His teaching, that they actually drove Him out of the town. Out of His siblings, only 1 is recorded as every believing in Him (Matthew 13:55-56). However, Jesus still preached, still healed, still did miracles for God’s glory. What was it that allowed Him to not be affected by the negativity around Him? When we are walking close to God, we begin to see the evidence (or ‘fruit’) of the changes the Holy Spirit is making in our lives. Jesus was able to stay positive, because He had joy and peace, both which are fruits of the Holy Spirit in His life (Galatians 5:22-23). We never read that Jesus was focused on His achievements or the number of followers He had or even on those people who told He couldn’t fulfill His calling. Instead He stayed close to God and had the fruits of kindness, goodness and faithfulness. The best thing we can do for our peace and joy is to focus on following God, rather than focusing on other people or the circumstances. As we are seeking God, joy and peace and positivity will become a way of life for us, just like it was for Jesus. We will not see disappointments and naysayers or even successes and crowds cheering us, we will see only that the Holy Spirit has called us to do something and it is our job to do it.
The Holy Spirit Taught Jesus to Pray. I can not stress enough the incredible difference that spending time with God will make in your life. Prayer time, reading His Scriptures, there is NO substitute, NO shortcut and NOTHING more important to your spiritual growth. If you want the Holy Spirit to be active in your life, you have to know when He is speaking. What better way to do that than by reading what He already said? We clearly see that Jesus was familiar with the Torah, because He preaches from it and explains it to the religious leaders when He first began His public ministry. He also made it a habit to spend time in prayer. There are 38 passages, PASSAGES not verses, in the four Gospels that speak about Jesus praying. Actually, the Bible talks about Jesus praying more than it talks about the healings He did. Paul taught in the letter to the Romans that, “…The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26-27).” Day after day, Jesus went away from the crowds to pray and seek time with God. Led by the Holy Spirit, He focused the beginning of His day on spending time with God and the ministry fell into place. If you try to run a ministry or do anything else in your life without putting God first, you will only get as far as your own abilities. However, if you take God with you, you will see your ministry and everything you do for God be blessed and favoured more than you can ever hope or imagine.
As we go through our days, it is so easy for us to prioritize less important things over the more important things. There are so many things that can grab our attention, that we can go from being in our calling to totally distracted in a mere seconds. Other times it is our attitudes of selfishness or fear or doubt that keeps us from living in our callings. When we stop and focus on what the Holy Spirit wants us to do, we will see that our focus, our attitudes and especially our prayer time begins to line up with God’s expectations of what He wants from us. I challenge you to take God with you every step of your journey, and in doing so, you will see the Holy Spirit’s work in your life as easily as we can see it in Jesus’ life.