The Divine Download
The amazed commentary of Jesus’ observers in Matthew 13:54 (“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” [NASB]) reflects how profoundly Jesus demonstrated a ministering life infused with what I like to call “the Divine Download”—or, in a more traditional word, the Anointing (i.e. the very title of Messiah—or “Christ” as derived through the Greek language—by which Jesus is known). So also Jesus’ followers came to be known as “Christians” [Acts 11:26b], that is: those anointed by the same Holy Spirit that marked Jesus as the Christ [see Luke 24:48-49 & Acts 1:8, 2:1-4; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:13-15; 20:22-23; Ephesians 1:13-14, 18-23]). It seems that the activity of true Christians, then, should be expected to illicit a similar response (“Where do these people get their wisdom and divine power?”), for we are to be living according to the model of Christ, empowered by the very same Spirit of Christ. This is the very purpose for which Jesus came: to satisfy the will of the Father, redeem the lost, and demonstrate the Truth of living in one accord with God’s word & will by the power of His Spirit. If such response seems absent, it may be an indicator that followers of Christ aren’t actually following His model and aren’t actually relying upon His Spirit with a passion to fulfill the will of the Father & the purpose of the Son. This acknowledgment urges us, then, to take a closer look at what it means to follow the Christ. Looking carefully at His earthly life & ministry recorded in the Scriptures, we see that Jesus operated not by relying simply on His own fully human power (cf. John 8:28; 12:49-50) nor by exerting His own innate Divine privilege, even though He was & is fully God (see Philippians 2:5-8) but rather, as a true human being like us (albeit one without any sin, see Hebrews 4:15), Jesus modeled for us how to live and serve fully dependent on God (cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4; John 5:19), purely in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit granted to Him by the Father (see Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32-34). This is the life and power of Christ, a life and power to which we as believers & disciples are called by God and for which we are equipped by God to live out today. For having died with Christ & to ourselves, it is now the Resurrection life of Christ we live out (see Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:20), walking daily in His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18, 22-25; cf. John 15:4-8; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 5:2, 8, 18; 6:18; Philippians 2:1-5; 3:16-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 John 2:6) empowered to do His works (John 14:12-14; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 4:13) and to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8; 5:32) to the world. If someone suggests that this perspective prompts in us a works-reliant mockery of faith and grace in us, we’re quick to acknowledge that nothing could be further from the truth. For in the Scriptures we see plainly how God Himself has done all the “heavy lifting” to arrange, implement, and complete His plan. We who believe are not self-made people—exactly the opposite! “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB). All the glory is God’s. All His grace is extended to us, enabling us to enter His glory through no accomplishment of our own but rather through the pure and perfect work of our Savior Jesus the Christ (Hebrews 4:16; cf. Revelation 5). Now all His fullness fills us as we receive by faith the spiritual fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23). The Father willed this plan & calls us to it. The Son modeled it, and by fulfilling the Father’s will & sacrificing Himself, made it possible for us to live in Him, cleansing us for this life of mission. Now the Spirit enables us likewise to fulfill the Father’s will and carry out the Son’s mission together as the Spirit-filled Body of Christ, enlightened and empowered to proclaim His truth, grace, & glory to all. Amen!