By Justin Rossow
One of the defining features of Jesus is that he is the Messiah, the Christ. That title—Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in Greek—simply means “The Anointed One.” Jesus is the promised Anointed One, the special representative of Yahweh who would receive and bear the very Spirit of God.
I like this painting because it captures the descent of the Holy Spirit. Remember, when Jesus was anointed at his baptism, he was named the beloved Son of God, and the Spirit descended on him like a dove. Jesus came to the waters where people were being baptized for repentance. Jesus stood in the place of sinners to fulfill all righteousness. And Jesus was declared the unique and beloved Son, who received the Holy Spirit and lived out the rest of his ministry carrying the special presence of that Spirit.
So in one sense, you are not like Jesus at all. He is the unique Christ of God, the anointed Messiah, God’s one and only Son. But in another sense, precisely because Jesus stood in the place of sinners—because Jesus took your place, Jesus invites you to take his place.
Because Jesus received and carried the Holy Spirit in a unique way, he became the one who was authorized to pour out the Spirit on all people, universally.
That’s what’s going on at Pentecost: Jesus himself, the Anointed One, the Anointed-with-the-Spirit One, is pouring out his Spirit on his followers. Take a closer look at that painting. I love this baptism image because it could be the baptism of Jesus, with the descent of the Holy Spirit like a dove, or it could be Pentecost, with tongues of red fire dancing in the blowing of the Spirit wind.
It looks as if this person is almost inhaling, or drinking deeply of the Spirit. It reminds me of what Paul would later write:
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
So although Jesus was uniquely baptized as the unique Son of God who uniquely bears the Spirit, you have now also been baptized. You have been named beloved daughter, beloved son. The same Holy Spirit that filled Jesus at his baptism now fills you.
Today is Pentecost renewed again; every day, you walk in the power of your baptism; every breath, you breathe the wind/Spirit of God; every moment you drink in life, you drink of the one Spirit that empowered the life of Jesus the Messiah.
This painting by Lance Brown is simply titled, “Come, Holy Spirit.” It could be a picture of Jesus at his baptism; it could be a picture of the disciples at Pentecost; it could be a picture of you, today.
Jesus was anointed with the power of the Spirit. And so are you.
So Jesus is absolutely unique.
And, in the power of the Spirit, you are absolutely like him.
You are not like Jesus in his power; no, you are like Jesus in his weakness.
You are not like Jesus in his omniscience; you are like Jesus in his dependence.
You are not like Jesus in his eternal divinity; you are like Jesus in his intimate relationship with the Father.
You are not like Jesus in his unique calling as Messiah, Anointed One, Son of God, Bearer and Giver of the Spirit; and yet, you are absolutely like him in your unique calling as a baptized child of God, who bearers that same Spirit into the world.
You are not like Jesus in his role as Savior of the World; but you absolutely are like him, for you are sent into the world to carry his message of salvation.
You are not like Jesus in his ultimate authority, seated at the right hand of the Father; but you are, you are, you are like Jesus: for you also have submitted yourself to the authority of his Father and yours.
Filled with the Spirit of Jesus, you are not like Jesus in his miraculous Kingdom signs; no, Jesus himself thinks you will do even greater things than these.
Pentecost is not some obscure event that took place 2,000 years ago; Pentecost is the daily life of those who belong to the One who bears and pours out the Spirit.
Being “like Jesus” does not mean holding Jesus up as an ideal–out there somewhere–an ideal you are supposed to try hard to reach; being “like Jesus” means receiving the Spirit and living a life empowered by the Spirit, under the authority of the Father. Just like Jesus did.
The Spirit bridges the gap between you and being like Jesus; the Spirit draws near to you, and makes Jesus present to you, and makes you “like Jesus.”
So this Pentecost, don’t keep the Holy Spirit at a safe distance of 2,000 years ago; and don’t keep Jesus at the distance of a lofty ideal of moral behavior. The Spirit is close to you, and the Spirit causes Jesus to dwell within you. Pentecost is an intimate, present reality that brings you into a Christ-like life.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father … I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth … you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you … On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14, selected verses)