The Spirit Descending
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
When people talk about the differences between Judaism and Christianity, two religions who share the same Holy Book outside of the New Testament, the obvious point is Jesus. The Jews were looking for the coming Messiah and rejected what Jesus was offering as a messiah. Christians on the other hand accepted Jesus as the Messiah. That of course is very true. There are other differences of course as well, especially in terms of the Temple and its services and traditions. Christians no longer burn offerings or slaughter sheep, at least not for religious purposes. The Jews also don’t right now as they don’t have a Temple to perform the ceremonies but still feel the need to do so.
All of those are valid differences but I think one of the strongest is the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit is mentioned often in the Old Testament with the Jews it seems to be different than how Christianity sees and interacts with the Holy Spirit.
Whereas the Jews simply see it as God’s power being presented on earth, Christians see a living, interactive being who joins with us in our acts and decisions. There is a unique relationship with the Spirit that can be seen in the New Testament. It speaks to us and guides us. We are filled with it and work with it. Again, all this can be seen in the Old Testament but it seems to be more distant.
The Holy Spirit is also not just a nice extra from God, like a cherry on a cake, but an integral part of Christianity. We are nothing and lost without the Spirit. The Spirit is a sign of our healthy relationship with God and personal salvation.
How do you see the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you feel its presence within you? Do you speak with the Spirit? How do you interact with it?
Jesus wasn’t just baptized with water but with the Holy Spirit. How about you?
Pr. Steven Couto