It was not primarily by virtue of his divine nature that Jesus lived the kind of life he did, but rather through his constant and ever-increasing reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. Three issues that undergird this thesis:
First, the unprecedented presence of the Spirit in the life of Jesus. John 3:34-35 - “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand” (NASB). Who is it that “gives” the Spirit and who is it that receives?
(1) Some insist it is Jesus, the Son, who gives the Spirit to those who receive his testimony (v. 32).
(2) More likely God the Father is “He” who gives the Spirit without measure to Jesus, the one “whom God has sent,” the one who “speaks the words of God.” Three reasons:
(a) This view alone makes sense of the first half of v. 34; i.e., the words of Jesus are to be identified with the words of God because Jesus receives the Spirit without measure. It is the HS who inspires/enables Jesus to speak the very words of the Father.
(b) This view connects v. 34 with v. 35; i.e., preeminent among the “things” given by the Father to the Son is the Holy Spirit.
(c) This view sets up a contrast between Jesus and all who preceeded him: however much of the Spirit the OT prophets and kings and priests may have had, Jesus has him all! Jesus, unlike those who came before, has received of the Spirit “without measure” (superabundantly, bountifully, completely, in unlimited fullness).
If Jesus spoke the words of God because he was God, if he acted and served and ministered solely by virtue of his own native/inherent deity, why would he be given the presence of the Holy Spirit (least of all “without measure”)?
Second, the reality of his human nature. See the earlier lesson on his incarnation and humanity.
Third, the implications of his incarnation and humiliation. Philippians 2:6-11
· This text does not assert that the eternal Son of God gave up or surrendered any attributes of deity. Jesus “emptied” himself by becoming a man, not by ceasing to be God.
· In becoming a man “the Son of God willed to renounce the exercise of his divine powers, attributes, prerogatives, so that he might live fully within those limitations which inhere in being truly human” (G. Hawthorne, p. 208). That which he had (all the divine attributes), by virtue of what he was (deity), he willingly chose not to use. Thus we see a human being doing super-human things and ask “How?” The answer is: Not from the power of his own divine nature, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
· Thus the Son chose to experience the world through the limitations imposed by human consciousness and an authentic human nature. The attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience were not lost or laid aside, but became latent and potential within the confines of his human nature. They are “present in Jesus in all their fulness, but no longer in exercise” (Hawthorne, 208). The incarnation thus means that Jesus “actually thought and acted, viewed the world, and experienced time and space events strictly within the confines of a normally developing human person” (210).
· Therefore, “it is the Spirit, experienced in the OT as special enablings (of charismatic revelation, wisdom, or power) that transcend human limitations, that becomes the means of Jesus’ human knowledge of God, of the revelation he receives, and of the power by which he preaches and acts. Jesus’ experience is in that sense paradigmatic of Christian experience of the Spirit, though the Spirit filled the incarnate Son to a unique degree” (Max Turner, Review of The Presence and the Power, The Evangelical Quarterly 65 [January 1993], 80).
· What are the implications of this for us?
“Not only is Jesus their Savior because of who he was and because of his own complete obedience to the Father’s will (cf. Heb. 10:5-7), but he is the supreme example for them of what is possible in a human life because of his own total dependence upon the Spirit of God. Jesus is living proof of how those who are his followers may exceed the limitations of their humanness in order that they, like him, might carry to completion against all odds their God-given mission in life -- by the Holy Spirit. Jesus demonstrated clearly that God’s intended way for human beings to live, the ideal way to live, the supremely successful way to live, is in conjunction with God, in harmony with God, in touch with the power of God, and not apart from God, not independent of God, not without God. The Spirit was the presence and power of God in Jesus, and fully so” (Hawthorne, p. 234).
"[Jesus] was truly the eternal God, very God, of very God. But when He came down from yonder heights of glory He suspended the direct operation of His own independent power and became voluntarily dependent upon the power of God through the Holy Ghost. . . . He purposely took His place side by side with us, heeding equally with the humblest disciple the constant power of God to sustain Him in all His work. . . . And so He went through life in the position of dependence, that He might be our public example and teach us that we too have the same secret of strength and power that He possessed, and that as surely as He overcame through the Holy Ghost, so may we" (A. B. Simpson).
What this means is that Jesus is our model for how God wants us to live in humble, reliant trust on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can reasonably expect to “be like” Jesus, to “live like” Jesus only to the degree that we draw from the same divine power on which he faithfully relied: the Holy Spirit.
1. The Conception and Birth of Jesus
a. Matthew 1:18-20
The source/cause/origin of this miracle is the Holy Spirit. Mary is pregnant of the HS (= cause, effective source). The Holy Spirit, not Joseph or any other man (thus putting to rest Joseph’s natural fears), provided the generative force by which Mary’s pregnancy came to pass and the humanity of Jesus was initiated. “No human male, then, is to be thought of as the agent by which Mary’s child is begotten; rather the Holy Spirit is that which sets the whole process of this special conception and gestation into motion” (Hawthorne, p. 71).
b. Luke 1:34-35
(1) “come upon” - used in the OT of the powerful presence of God’s HS at work in the midst of his people; often the Spirit would “come upon” OT saints to equip them for a special task (cf. Num. 24:2; Judges 3:10; 2 Chron. 15:1). See esp. Isa. 32:15. Luke is making the claim that “the conception and birth of Jesus was not to be part of the normal course of human events -- marriage, intercourse, conception, gestation, birth -- but a miracle, the direct intervention of God into the course of human events, so that Mary’s child to be born would be a gift of God in the fullest sense” (Hawthrone, p. 71).
(2) “overshadow” - used of the revelation of God’s glory in OT (cf. Ex. 40:35; Ps. 91:4; 140:7 = God’s powerful presence; see also Mt. 17:5; Luke 9:34). “As the tabernacle was full, contained, the Shekinah glory (i.e., the presence of God, Exod. 40:35), so Mary was to carry within herself the Son of God, the glory of God’s people Israel (cf. Luke 2:28-32, esp. v. 32)” (Hawthorne, p. 72). In sum, the Holy Spirit was the divine creative element by which the fashioning of our Lord’s human nature was begun (cf. Heb. 10:5).
c. Luke 1:15
If John the Baptist (the lesser) was filled with the Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb, how much more must it be true of Jesus (the greater). If this is true of the herald of Jesus (see John 3:30; Mt. 3:11), is it not reasonable to suppose it is true of Jesus himself? Since the HS “came upon” Mary and “overshadowed” Mary and enabled her to conceive, it stands to reason that Jesus was “filled with the HS” no less than he who was his forerunner.
2. The Childhood and Youth of Jesus
a. Luke 2:40
Lit., Jesus was growing strong “by being filled with wisdom” (the latter phrase tells how and with what Jesus was made strong). Note four things:
(1) “being filled” is in the present tense, pointing to a steady, continuous experience (“by being ever more and more filled with wisdom”);
(2) he was “being” filled (passive voice) by someone other than himself (no doubt, the Holy Spirit; cf. 1:35);
(3) that with which Jesus was being filled was “wisdom” (see Isa. 11:1-2); and
(4) “the grace of God was upon him”, a reference not only to divine favor but also to exceptional and enabling gifts. Luke may have meant by these words that “God was even then in the process of graciously fitting Jesus out with those special powers requisite for the unique role he was to play in redemptive history, bestowing upon him the gifts he would need to be the Messiah, the Savior of the world” (Hawthorne, p. 101). In this regard, see esp. Acts 4:33 (where “power” and “grace” are probably synonymous, together referring to the Holy Spirit).
b. Luke 2:41-52 (esp. v. 52)
What accounts for his precocious knowledge (sunesis, v. 47) of spiritual things? Luke is probably referring implicitly to the Holy Spirit. Cf. Isa. 11:2 - “And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom (sophia) and understanding (sunesis).” Observe also that they were “amazed/astonished” (v. 47) at his understanding. This verb (existasthai) is used frequently in Luke to describe the reaction of people to the operation of divine power, i.e., the work of the HS (cf. Luke 8:56; 24:22; Acts 2:7,12; 8:13; 9:21; 10:45; 12:16).
3. The Baptism of Jesus
Four important points:
· First, Jesus saw “the heavens opened” (Mk. 1:10), more literally, the heavens were being “torn apart” or “rent asunder” (Gk. schizomenous). What exactly did he see? Beyond the physical phenomenon itself, this portrays the breaking in of the heavenly into the earthly. Mark may be pointing to God’s dramatic answer to the prayer of Isa. 64:1-2 (“Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Thy presence,” v. 1; see also Mal. 3:10). I.e., the heavens were split open and the Spirit came down!
Mt. 3:16 - Who is the "he" that saw the dove descend, Jesus or John? Probably Jesus, but John could hardly have missed it (cf. Jn. 1:32-33). What exactly did they see? Cf. Lk. 3:22. Did the HS assume the form of a dove, as if in a literal transmutation? No. Did the HS descend in a dove-like manner? Perhaps. But most likely a literal dove was sent by God the Father as symbolic of the HS's ministry in the life of Jesus.
Of what was this a sign? (1) Of God's love for the Son ("beloved" in v. 17). (2) Of the anointing of Jesus for ministry (Isa. 42:1; 61:1; Acts 10:38). (3) The dove was the bird of sacrifice in the OT, thus giving a preview of Christ's atoning work. (4) The dove is also an emblem of gentleness and compassion: "It is for Christ's gentleness in calling sinners in kind and soft tones to hope for salvation, inviting them each day, that the HS descended upon Him in the form of a dove. And in this symbol we have shown us a striking pledge of His most sweet consolation, that we should have no fear in approaching Christ for He meets us not in the dread power of the Spirit, but wearing his loveable and pleasant grace" (Calvin/131-32). (5) The dove was also a symbol of creation and re-creation (Gen. 1:2). (6) The dove may be an allusion to Noah's dove in Gen. 8:8-12, pointing to the end of judgment and the beginning of a new era of grace and life.
Could it be that the HS is here symbolized by a dove not to tell us something about his nature but something about the nature of Jesus? It is God the Son, not God the Spirit, whose qualities are expressed by the dove. The HS assumed the form of a dove to say something about Jesus, not himself.
· Second, according to John 1:32, the Spirit not only came down upon Jesus, the Spirit “remained/abided” on him, an indication of his continuing, ongoing, abiding presence: unlike those of the OT on whom the Spirit came but for a time (1 Sam. 16:14; 2 Kg. 3:15) to equip them for a task, then to depart. In the case of Jesus, the HS remained permanently, perpetually equipping and enabling him for ministry.
· Third, according to Mark 1:10, the HS did not simply come “upon” Jesus but came “into” (eis, not epi) him. Perhaps this is Mark’s way of indicating that the HS entered intoJesus; i.e., the relationship is not one of mere external enablement but internal intimacy. Jesus was now the permanent bearer of the Spirit. Even if “filled” with the Spirit from Mary’s womb, he now sustains a relationship to the Spirit unlike anything that has preceded.
· Fourth, this descent of the Spirit upon/into Jesus constituted his “anointing”. OT anointing of kings/prophets: 1 Sam. 10:1-6 (cf. vv. 1 and 6); 16:12-13; 1 Kings. 19:16,19; 2 Kings 2:9,15. So, too, Jesus: Luke 4:18-21 (fulfilling Isa. 61:1-2); Acts 10:37-38. (1) To be anointed with the HS is to receive power. (2) This power accounts for the “good” works of Jesus’ ministry, his healings, delivering those oppressed of Satan, etc. (3) What he did, he did primarily because “God was with him,” i.e., in/through and by means of the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
4. The Temptation of Jesus
Luke 4:1-2. It was not by accident or even his own initiative that Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.
· Mark (1:12) says the HS “drove” or “thrust forth” (ekballei) Jesus into the wilderness; i.e., whatever other plans Jesus might have had, the HS overruled, pointed, directed him to his encounter with the enemy. By what means? Audible voice? Inward impression? Vision? Some ecstatic experience?
· Matthew (4:1) and Luke (4:1) both use a milder term (agein; to lead or guide), reinforcing the point that Jesus willingly submitted to the Spirit’s guidance. Even here at the beginning of his ministry Jesus says, in effect, “not my will but thine be done.”
· Jesus was not only led into the wilderness by the Spirit (Mt. 4:1) but was also being led by the Spirit in the wilderness during the entire course of the forty days (Luke 4:1; it was, no doubt, the Spirit who led Jesus to fast). “If he was being tempted by Satan for forty days (Mark 1:13), he was being led by the Spirit for those same forty days (Luke 4:1). It is impossible to escape the conclusion that these Gospel writers want their readers to understand that Jesus met and conquered the usurping enemy of God not by his own power alone but was aided in his victory by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Hawthorne, p. 139). He was fortified and energized by the continual infusion of divine power from the Spirit of God.
· In Luke the filling of the Spirit results in inspired or divinely energized speech (Acts 6:3,5,8,10; also 7:55; 11:23-24). Thus, Jesus was filled with the Spirit so he, too, would be enabled to speak appropriately in his war with Satan (observe Jesus’ masterful use of the OT in each response to the devil).
· Are you tempted? Look to Jesus, not merely to find an example of what to say or do, but as an example of how one resists: in the power of the Spirit. Jesus overcame temptation by the same power that God expects all of us to employ: the Holy Spirit!
The coming of the Spirit upon/into Jesus led Luke to describe him as being “full of the Holy Spirit” (4:1). These are the same terms used to describe the experience of Christians after Pentecost! See Acts 6:5 (pleres pneumatos hagiou).
5. The General Ministry of Jesus
a. Luke 4:14-15
In what “power” and by virtue of what resource did Jesus begin to teach, preach and perform miracles? It was not through his own initiative or by virtue of his own inherent skills alone or even because he was God incarnate. Rather, “Luke precisely identifies Jesus’ power as the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus attributes those things Jesus did, which caused people to spread his fame far and wide (4:14b), to the dynamis, ‘the power,’ of the Spirit” (Hawthorne, p. 148). Observe the relation between the “Spirit” and “power” (cf. Acts 10:38; etc.).
b. Luke 4:16-21
See Isa. 61:1-3; 11:1-5. Again, if Jesus did all this in the power of his own divine nature why was the anointing of the Holy Spirit necessary at all? “He anointed me” (v. 18) = echrisen, the verb form of the noun christos, which translates the Hebrew “Messiah” = the anointed one.
c. Matthew 12:9-21 (see Isa. 42:1-4)
[Special note on Luke 11:13.
Could it be that this exhortation to pray for the Holy Spirit flows from Jesus' own experience of the Spirit? Could it be that he himself prayed for continued, repeated anointings or fresh waves of the Spirit's presence and power to sustain him for ministry, and here encourages his followers to do the same? Three observations:
1) Where Luke says the Father will give the "Holy Spirit" to us Matthew says he will give "good things". Why the difference? John Nolland suggests that "it will be best to see that, since from a post-Pentecost early church perspective, the greatest gift that God can bestow is the Spirit, Luke wants it to be seen that God's parental bounty applies not just to everyday needs (already well represented in the text in [the] Lord's Prayer) but even reaches so far as to this his greatest possible gift" (Luke, 632).
2) Since this exhortation is addressed to believers, the "children" of the "Father", the giving of the Spirit in response to prayer cannot refer to one's initial experience of salvation. The prayer is not by a lost person needing a first-time indwelling of the Spirit but by people who already have the Spirit but stand in need of a greater fulness, a more powerful anointing to equip and empower them for ministry.
3) The petition of v. 13 is part of the instruction on persistence and perseverance in prayer that began in 11:1. Thus we are repeatedly and persistently and on every needful occasion to keep on asking, seeking and knocking for fresh impartations of the Spirit's power. ]
6. The Miracles of Jesus(see Acts 2:22; 10:38)
a. Matthew 12:22-32
Jesus responds to their accusations with 3 statements:
First, it is absurd to think that Satan would fight against his own demons and thus contribute to the dissolution of his own kingdom.
Second, it is dangerous to accuse him of casting out demons by Satan’s power, for it exposes their own exorcists to the same charge.
Third, the real source of Jesus’ power is the Holy Spirit. See v. 28.
· Clearly, Jesus himself understood that “his ability to heal, to make people whole, to restore sight to the blind and speech to the dumb, and to overthrow the destructive forces of evil lay not in himself, lay not in the strength of his own person, but in God and in the power of God mediated to him through the Spirit. In his action God acted. In his speech God spoke. His authority was the authority of God” (Hawthorne, pp. 169-70).
· In other words, Jesus was himself consciously awareof the ultimate source of his power. He knew himself to be dependent on the power of the Spirit. The Spirit did not work secretly through him.
· Why did Jesus call their sin blasphemy against the “Holy Spirit”? If Jesus himself performed this miracle, in the power of his own divine nature, would not their sin have been against him? They blasphemed the Holy Spirit because they were attributing the Spirit’s work to Satan.
· As far as Jesus is concerned, the proof of the presence of the kingdom of God is the power of the Holy Spirit to bring deliverance to those in bondage to the devil. Jesus did not say the kingdom was present because he, Jesus, was present (although that is true). In this context, Jesus asserts the presence of the kingdom based on the presence and power of the Spirit. It is less his performance of an exorcism and more the power of the Spirit through which the exorcism is achieved that attests to the in-breaking of God’s kingdom rule. Thus, it is not so much a case of “Where I am there is the kingdom,” as it is “Where the Spirit is working through me, there is the kingdom.”
· In Luke 11:20 it is by the “finger of God” that Jesus casts out demons. But “finger of God” = “hand” of God = anthropomorphism for the immediate, effectual presence and power of God = the Spirit of God.
Often the word “power” is used to refer to Jesus’ works and words. Power = synonym for the Holy Spirit! See Luke 1:17,35. “The Spirit and power are thus indissolubly related and constitute God’s creative, effective force present in the world and available to human beings” (Hawthorne, p. 155).
· Luke 4:14
· Luke 5:17
Was the power of the HS tangible? Could he feel or sense its presence? Was the power of the HS transferable? Could it pass from one person to another? Could the person to whom it passed feel or sense it enter him/her?
· Luke 6:19
· Luke 8:46
· Often the miracles of Jesus are simply called “powers” (Mt. 11:20; 13:54). The miracles of Jesus were expressions of the Spirit’s power (see 1 Cor. 12:10a).
· In view of these texts and the consistent use of the word power in Luke’s gospel, what conclusions may we draw from the promise of Jesus recorded in Luke 24:49?
In Luke 7:21 Jesus “graced” the blind to see! In Acts 6:8 we read that Stephen was “full of grace and power” and “was performing great wonders and signs among the people.” See also Acts 4:33.
7. The Inner Emotional Life of Jesus
Luke 10:21. In some sense, even the emotions and passions of Jesus were evoked or stirred or aroused and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Here we see the exuberant joy of Jesus inspired by the Spirit! Would this not also be true of other emotions, stirred up at other times during the course of his earthly life? Note also that Jesus here “praises” the Father (v. 21). Surely it was the Spirit in/through whom Jesus worshipped. Cf. Phil. 3:3.
8. The Teaching Ministry of Jesus
Acts 1:1-2 (cf. also Luke 24:19). From this we see that after his resurrection Jesus was filled with the Spirit, and from the reservoir of wisdom and power supplied by the Spirit he issued new commands to the disciples. If this be true of Jesus after his resurrection, how much more so before it. The Spirit of God communicated the words of God the Father to the Son of God that he in turn passed on to his followers. In some sense Jesus depended on the Spirit to supply him with the wisdom and insights into the mind of God that formed the substance of his teaching. In this regard, read again John 5:19-20,30-32; 7:16-18; 8:26; 8:38; 12:49; 14:10.
According to Hawthorne, “there are recorded incidents in the life of Jesus where there is no mention of the Holy Spirit, but where his presence, power, and activity are assumed. The many references in the Gospels to Jesus acting with authority (exousia), performing his miracles with power (dynameis, dynamei), being perceived by the people, even by his closest friends, as a prophet, the bearer of the Spirit, or perceiving himself as a prophet, and so on, indicate that even without using the precise expression, ‘Holy Spirit,’ the Gospel writers were nevertheless stating in other ways their conviction that Jesus lived in the environment of the Spirit” (114).
9. The Death of Jesus
Hebrews 9:13-14. Does “eternal spirit” refer to Jesus’ own eternal spiritual nature or to the Holy Spirit? Probably the latter. If he meant “human spirit” he would have said “through his eternal spirit” (cf. Mark 2:8; 8:12). Thus, just as Jesus drew on the power and strength of the Spirit to teach, to perform miracles, to resist the temptation of Satan, so also he drew on the Spirit’s power to find courage and resolve to offer himself a sacrifice for sin. [Consider especially his determination in Gethsemane: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”]
10. The Resurrection of Jesus
What power raised Jesus from the dead? Was it his own inherent divine nature/power, or that of the Holy Spirit? Two texts imply that it was his own power - John 2:19-21 (but then note v. 22); and John 10:17-18 (but note v. 18b). The vast majority of texts, on the other hand, indicate that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, raised Jesus:
1 Cor. 15:14-18; 1 Peter 1:21; 17 times in Acts and the Epistles it is said that God raised Jesus. See especially Acts 17:31. If “God” the Father did it, how? Most likely, through the Holy Spirit! Rom. 1:1-4; 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Tim. 3:16. Concerning the latter text, Hawthorne writes: “Jesus was put to death as a criminal, crucified for his supposed crimes, but vindicated in the end, declared to be innocent, proclaimed far and wide to be righteous, by the Holy Spirit who raised him from the dead” (194).
Application: THE HOLY SPIRIT IN JESUS IS THE HOLY SPIRIT IN US!
1. John 20:22
“The very first thing Jesus did immediately after he was resurrected from among the dead and reunited with his followers was to pass on to them, as a gift from his Father (cf. Acts 2:23), that same power by which he lived, triumphed, and broke the bands of his own human limitations. On the very day of his resurrection, he came to them locked in by their fears, ‘breathed’ on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22)” (Hawthorne, p. 235).
Point: the mission of Jesus is not over. It merely passes into a new phase. Jesus continues the mission given him by his Father by sending forth his disciples in the same power with/by which the Father sent him forth, i.e., the power of the Holy Spirit.
The problem posed by John 20:22 - In Acts the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection, whereas here in John 20 the Holy Spirit appears to come on the day of the resurrection. Are John and Luke in conflict? Several observations will help resolve this problem:
· These are not contradictory accounts of the same event: in John we have a secret, restricted gathering, at evening, of the disciples only, and Jesus is personally present; but in Acts we have a public gathering, in the middle of the morning, with the entire Jerusalem congregation present, but Jesus is absent.
· John 20:22 does not describe their “regeneration” or “new birth”: (a) they were already “clean” (John 13:10); their names were already written down in heaven (Luke 10:20); Peter had openly testified that Jesus was the Christ (Mt. 16:16-17; cf. John 16:30); see also John 17:8-19 where Jesus refers to them as already belonging to the Father; (b) this impartation of the Spirit is not related to their conversion but to their commission (“I also send you”, v. 21).
· The coming of the Spirit is directly dependent on the going of the Son. See John 7:37-39 and 16:7. The sending of the HS is contingent on the ascension of the Son. Jesus is portrayed here as not yet having ascended (John 20:17). Therefore, this is not a “Johannine Pentecost”.
· “Breathing” is obviously symbolic. Pneuma may be translated “wind,” “breath,” “air,” and “spirit.” Cf. Gen. 2:7; Ezek. 37:2-4,9. This latter text suggests that “just as a lump of clay fashioned from the earth or a pile of bones bleaching in a valley were caused to spring to life by the breath of God then, so now the followers of Jesus are being given the opportunity to spring to life with a new spiritual vitality by that same breath of God” (Hawthorne, p. 236).
· The Greek text has been interpreted differently. D. A. Carson, for example, argues that it does not say “he breathed on them,” but merely that “he breathed,” or “he exhaled.” He points out that this is the only place this verb appears in the NT, but in all of its occurrences in the LXX there is an accompanying preposition (such as "into" or "in" or "upon") or some such auxiliary phrase. Thus Carson concludes that "the verb emphysao itself, when not encumbered by some auxiliary expression specifying the person or thing on whom or into whom the breath is breathed, simply means 'to breathe'" (652). It must be noted that Carson’s view is a minority one and has been challenged on several counts.
There are three possible interpretations of what Jesus did:
1) Some (including Gary Burge; see his commentary on John in the NIV Application series [Zondervan]) contend that this was a genuine and full anointing of the Spirit and must not be played off against the events of Acts 2.
2) Others argue that this constituted a preliminary imparting of the Spirit, in anticipation of the complete gift that would come at Pentecost. Calvin referred to John 20:22 as a “sprinkling” of the HS and Acts 2 as a “saturation”! Key: Luke 24:49 clearly teaches that at Pentecost the followers of Jesus would receive the fullness of divine power = the Holy Spirit. Therefore, whatever occurred in John 20:22, it was at most a taste of Pentecost, not the “full meal”; it was at most a transitional empowering of the disciples to get them from Easter to Pentecost.
Some have argued that this was not the full impartation of the Spirit by pointing to the fact that the lives of the disciples changed little as a result of it. They still lived in fear (20:26), reverted to their former employment (21:1-3), and insisted on comparing service/loyalty records in a virtual game of spiritual one-up-manship (21:20-22).
3) Others insist that there was no actual impartation of the Holy Spirit. Rather, John 20:22 is an acted parable, i.e., a symbolic promise of the coming power of the HS that is not fulfilled until the day of Pentecost.
In sum: it matters little if this was a partial enduement of power in anticipation of Pentecost or simply a symbolic act or prophetic parable pointing forward to Pentecost. The fact remains that the principal concern of the Son after his resurrection is the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church for the perpetuation of the divine mission he initiated.