The One Who Baptizes With The Holy Spirit
John 1:28-34 MKJV These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. (29) The next day John sees Jesus coming to him and says, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, after me comes a Man who has been before me, for He preceded me. (31) And I did not know Him, but that He be revealed to Israel, therefore I have come baptizing with water. (32) And John bore record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and He abode on Him. (33) And I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water, that One said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon Him, He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. (34) And I saw and bore record that this is the Son of God.
John speaks of Jesus in the most heavenly of terms:
1. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
2. The One who has “been before me”. (John 1:30)
3. The One on whom the Spirit rested and abode. (John 1:32,33)
4. The One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. (John 1:33)
5. The Son of God. (John 1:34)
These are not terms that can be applied to any normal person ore even to a prophet. The Baptist was a great and mighty prophet, but yet he pointed to Christ as One who was infinitely more worthy than himself. (John 1:27) The prophets could preach repentance from sin – but Jesus would actually take away the sin of the world!
John the evangelist is deliberately making the reader see Christ as both a man and as something far greater than a man. In Hebrew thinking there was a spiritual hierarchy and it probably went thus: Gentiles, Samaritans, women, male Jews, kings, priests, prophets, angels, God. By being greater than the prophets, and obviously not an angel then Jesus is another rank of being – that of the Son of God. [The article “the” is important as some angels were “sons of God” (see Job 1&2 and Genesis 6) but Jesus is the unique “the” only-begotten Son of God]
The spiritual rank “the Son of God” has the distinction of being one where the Spirit can rest and abide, and which can baptize in the Spirit, whereas the prophet could only baptize in water. The Spirit came upon the prophets and they spoke, but they could not baptize in the Spirit, even Elijah said it was difficult to pass the Spirit to Elisha (2 Kings 2:8-10). On the other hand Jesus could send the Spirit, He could baptize with the Spirit, and make the Spirit come upon others. Thus Jesus is greater than all the prophets and is of entirely another spiritual order.
Jesus was also pre-existent; he “came before” John, in fact even before Abraham! (John 8:56-58). Now Abraham is regarded as the spiritual founder of both Judaism and Islam. But Jesus is the founder of Christianity and existed far before Abraham, as the eternal creative Word of God. It is Christianity that is the truly Ancient Faith!
Christianity is a religion of the Spirit, not the law book. It is faith in one on whom the Spirit abides, faith in One who is familiar with God and is His beloved Son. One who can place the Spirit of God in us and upon us.
For us to be baptized in the Spirit we must first have our sin taken away. Thus Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus removes our sin so He can baptize us with the Holy Spirit so we can dwell in fellowship with God and worship in Spirit and in Truth!
Thus Jesus is both the means of initial saving grace – in that He takes away our sin through His substitutionary atonement; and the means of ongoing salvation and sanctification as He sanctifies us and empowers us through baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Twice John says “I did not know Him”, John did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God except via His relationship with the Holy Spirit: “And I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water, that One said to me, Upon whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon Him, He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” When God spoke to John the Baptist telling him how to recognize the Messiah – its was by His anointing that He would be known.
In a sense this applies to all ministers of the gospel – it is by our anointing that we are recognized in Heaven – not by our human qualifications. I can imagine the angels saying something like: “He is the one who is compassionate, she is the one who teaches with wisdom, he is the one who heals.”
Christ means anointed one – and “Christian” means “little anointed one”, we are to be Spirit-baptized, anointed, carriers of grace. This can only come about through an intimate relationship with Him who “gives the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34).
Blessings in Jesus,