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Spirit of Messiah – part 2: The Spirit-Bearer

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(Ruach HaKodesh, Session 5b)

 

This session of the Ruach HaKodesh series looks at the Holy Spirit in the Gospels. In part one, we looked at the role the Spirit played in Yeshua’s immersion and in His ministry. In this episode, part two, we will examine Yeshua’s instructions to pray for the Holy Spirit, and the Messiah’s role in pouring that Spirit out on His disciples.

The following is a condensed version of the audio teaching, including all the references and sources cited. You can also subscribe to this podcast here.

 

The Bread of Tomorrow

Yeshua teaches in Luke 11:

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1–13)

The well-known phrase in the Lord’s prayer, “give us this day our daily bread,” can also be translated as “give us this day the bread of tomorrow.”[1]The ESV actually contains a note suggesting “our bread for tomorrow” as an alternative translation. The Greek word usually rendered ...continue While this may not make sense at first, it is possible that this is an allusion to the Messianic banquet, the feast of the coming Kingdom. In other words, not only are we asking for God’s literal provision of literal food (our daily bread), but we are also asking God to give us a little taste of some of the good gifts He has stored up for us in the Kingdom (the bread of tomorrow).

This puts the rest of this passage in context. What we are asking, seeking, and knocking for is the Kingdom. This also puts into context the mention of the Holy Spirit in v. 13. Again, the implication here is that the Holy Spirit is a sign of the Kingdom. Every time we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” we are praying for Yeshua to return and establish the Messianic Era. But we are also asking for some of those good gifts to be given to us now, in advance of the Kingdom. One of those good gifts is the Holy Spirit.

 

Anticipation of the Spirit’s Outpouring

Yeshua came not only as the Spirit-filled Messiah, but also as the Spirit-bearer, the one who pours out the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist declared that Messiah would baptize (immerse) in the Holy Spirit: Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16 (cf. Acts 1:5; 11:16).

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)

There is a dual metaphor being used here. The Holy Spirit is likened both to water and to fire. “Holy Spirit and fire” are not two separate immersions.[2]Note only one preposition (ἐν en) governing both nouns in the Greek. Rather, it refers to the dual nature of Messiah’s work, cleansing and purging, winnowing the wheat from the chaff. Remember that, according to Torah, certain vessels have to go through both water and fire in order to be cleansed (Numbers 31:23).

We see the Holy Spirit likened to water frequently in Scripture. For example, the Holy Spirit is associated with water during creation (Gen 1:2). Isaiah 44:3 reads, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Throughout Scripture we often see the Spirit likened to water that can be poured into a vessel. In this case, the Holy Spirit is likened to water for immersion.

Fire is also a common symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended on the disciples as “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). Acts 18:25 describes Apollos as one “on-fire” (ζέων zeon) in the Spirit. We likewise are exhorted to be “on-fire” in the Spirit (Romans 12:11). We are cautioned to not “put out the Spirit’s fire” (1Thess 5:19). Timothy is reminded to “fan into flame the gift of God” (2Tim 1:6). The Seven Spirits of God are symbolized by seven torches of fire (Revelation 4:5). We also see fire used more generally in the Tanakh to refer to God’s presence.[3]Cf. the “smoking firepot and flaming torch” (Genesis 15:17), the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), the Pillar of Fire (Exodus 13:21-22), and ...continue

All this emphasizes the role of the Spirit in cleansing, purging, purifying and sanctifying. It also alludes to the role of the Spirit in judgment. The Spirit of God will mean life for God’s people and judgement for the wicked. Cf. Mal 4:1-3, in which the “sun/day” has a dual effect: judgement for the wicked, and healing for the righteous. Yeshua is the “Sun of Righteousness” that arises with healing in His k’nafot (“wings”). He is also the one who immerses in the Holy Spirit and in fire. He is the Spirit-bearer.

This role of Messiah shows up most profoundly in the book of John. There are three passages from John that we will focus on:

  • Yeshua’s Sukkot proclamation (John 7)
  • Yeshua’s farewell discourse (John 13-17)
  • After Yeshua’s resurrection (John 20)

 

Yeshua’s Sukkot proclamation (John 7)

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37–39)

It is unclear which day John had in mind when he speaks of “the last day, the great day.” John 7:37 could be referring to Shemini Atzeret (the eighth concluding day after the feast of Sukkot proper), or it could be referring to Hoshana Rabbah (the great day, the seventh day of Sukkot). But either way, Yeshua’s mention of “living water” finds a clear connection to the themes of the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

Sukkot is the time when Israel begins to pray for rain. In the Temple times, this prayer was vividly dramatized in a water-pouring ceremony known as Simchat Beit Hashoeva (literally “joy of the house of the water-drawing”). This ceremony was based on the verse in Isaiah: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). According to the Mishnah, “Anyone who has not seen the rejoicing of Beit Hashoevah has never seen [true] rejoicing in his life” (Sukka 5:1). The Mishnah says further:

“The pious men and wonder workers would dance before them with flaming torches in their hand, and they would sing before them songs and praises. And the Levites beyond counting played on harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and [other] musical instruments, [standing, as they played] on the fifteen steps which go down from the Israelites’ court to the women’s court— corresponding to the fifteen Songs of Ascents which are in the Book of Psalms— on these the Levites stand with their instruments and sing their song.” (Sukka 5:4)

The imagery Yeshua uses here at this time could not have been more poignant. At the very festival where Israel joyously draws living water as a symbolic prayer to God, the Messiah stands up and declares Himself to be the true source of living water. This living water Yeshua spoke of is none other than the Holy Spirit.

We find a fascinating parallel in the Jerusalem Talmud:

Yehoshua ben Levi said, “Why did they call it ‘the house of the water drawing?’ Because it was from there that they drew the Holy Spirit, according to the word [in Isaiah 12:3], ‘Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.’”[4]y.Sukkot 5:1 (55a).

The Talmud here takes the word “water” in Isaiah as an allusion to the Holy Spirit. Note also that the word “salvation” in Isaiah is the Hebrew word yeshu’ah. If we put these two together, we could offer this paraphrase of Isaiah 12:3: “With joy you will draw the Holy Spirit from the wells of Yeshua.”

 

Streams of Living Water

The punctuation in John 7:37-38 is a matter of debate. There are two possible ways of translating it:

  1. If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his [the believer’s] heart will flow rivers of living water.”
  2. If anyone thirsts, let him come to me; and let him who believes in me drink. As the Scripture has said, “Out of his [the Messiah’s] heart will flow rivers of living water.”

In version 1, the Scripture is applied to those who believe in Yeshua. We each become fountains of living water. In version 2, it is applied to Yeshua. Yeshua is the fountain of living water, and we are to come to him and believe in him to drink of that water. A case could be made for either option, but the second version highlights the role of Messiah in pouring out the Spirit.

Where does Scripture say, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”? While there is no verse in the Tanakh that says exactly that, there are several likely allusions being made:

  • Isaiah 12:3 (discussed above)
  • Exodus 17:6 – “You shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of him (וְיָצְאוּ מִמֶּנּוּ מַיִם v’yatz’u mimenu mayim).”
  • Zechariah 14:8 – “On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem.”
  • Ezekiel 47:1 – “Water was issuing from below the threshold of the Temple.”
  • Joel 3:18 – “A fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD”

While Messiah is often described as a rock, He is also described as a Temple (John 2:21). This “proof-text” invokes the blessings of the Messianic era and applies them to Yeshua.

 

The Spirit Was Not Yet…

John 7:39 states literally that the Spirit was not yet. Obviously John does not mean to imply that the Spirit did not yet exist, or that he did not indwell people prior to Yeshua. In session 4 we saw that the Spirit was very active and indwelt many people in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Rather, John’s point is that the anticipated eschatological outpouring of the Spirit had not yet taken place when Yeshua said these words. Yeshua was pointing to something in the future. And specifically, it makes a point to which we will return in a moment: The Spirit would not be given until Yeshua was glorified.

 

Yeshua’s farewell discourse (John 13-17)

Chapters 13-17 in John form Yeshua’s farewell discourse to His disciples. He tells them, “Little children, I am with you a little while longer.” (John 13:33) Like Jacob when he gathered his sons to tell them that he was about to die, Yeshua gathers His disciples and shares with them vital pieces of information just before His death.

We will focus our attention on the four passages in this discourse that speak of the Holy Spirit.

 

John 14:15–17

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)

The Holy Spirit in Yeshua’s farewell discourse is called by a name unique to John’s writings: παράκλητος (parakletos, or “Paraclete”).[5]The Greek word is found in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; and 1 John 2:1. The last passage is in reference to Messiah, rather than the Spirit. The word Paraclete is variously understood to mean comforter, helper, counsellor, advocate, intercessor, or mediator. Notice that Yeshua refers to “another Paraclete.” Yeshua himself was the first Paraclete.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Yeshua Messiah the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

In other words, the Holy Spirit was being sent to replace Yeshua. The Spirit is meant to make up for Yeshua’s absence. “He dwells with you and will be in you.” The Spirit was with the disciples in the person of Yeshua. He would be in them through the outpouring and empowering that would take place in Acts 2.

 

John 14:25–26

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25–26)

Just as Yeshua had been their teacher, so now in Yeshua’s absence the Holy Spirit would function in that role. This is true for us even today. It is the Holy Spirit that guides us as we learn and grow in our faith.

One of the main roles of the Spirit would be to bring to remembrance what Yeshua had said. On the one hand, this applies primarily to the disciples. After Yeshua was gone from them physically, the Holy Spirit would help them remember all His words so that they could go and teach others. It is thanks to this work of the Holy Spirit that we have the Gospels and the rest of the Apostolic Scriptures in writing. But on the other hand, there is also a sense in which this applies to us: The more we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, the more His Spirit writes that Word on our hearts.

 

John 15:26

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26)

Here Yeshua explicitly states that He will send the Holy Spirit from the Father. We also see the role of the Holy Spirit in bearing witness about Yeshua. This is similar to what Yeshua says in Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” The disciples were called to bear witness of Yeshua, and they would be empowered by the Spirit to do so. In a sense all of us have that same calling. A primary role of the Spirit in our lives is to aid us in sharing about Yeshua with others.

Notice how the Spirit is constantly pointing to Yeshua. The Spirit’s role is to highlight Messiah. That concept is building in each of these passages, and it comes to a climax in the next section.

 

John 16:5–15

“Now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:5–15)

“It is better for you that I go.” Can you imagine how bewildering that must have sounded? What could possibly be better than having Yeshua present in person? The answer is: having Him dwell inside each one of us through His Spirit. According to Yeshua Himself, that is better.

Why is Yeshua being glorified a prerequisite to sending the Spirit?[6]Cf. Acts 2:33: “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured ...continue This relates to the concept of succession we saw in session 4: The Spirit that was on Moses was placed on Joshua. The Spirit that was on Elijah was placed on Elishah. Similarly, the Spirit that would be poured out on the disciples is the Spirit of Messiah. It is Messiah’s mantle, so to speak. The disciples were to continue the work of Messiah.

The Spirit could not rest upon Elisha until after Elijah ascended (2Ki 2:9-15). So too Messiah had to leave in order to pass His mantle on to His followers. The miracles performed by the apostles after Acts 2 were not contingent upon the outpouring of the Spirit, since they were performing miracles earlier as well. (Cf. Matthew 10, where the Twelve are sent out to perform miracles including raising the dead.) The outpouring in Acts 2 wasn’t just to empower them to do miracles; it was symbolic of the taking up of Messiah’s mantle by the apostles. In other words, John 7:39 and 16:7 are talking about the Spirit’s empowerment for worldwide evangelism. This could not happen until after Yeshua’s ascension.

“He will convict the world regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment.” As John the Baptist prophesied, Messiah would immerse in the Holy Spirit and fire. This dual nature of the Spirit’s work includes judgment. This occurred through the testimony of the apostles. Those who accepted the message of Yeshua received life, but those who rejected it faced judgment.

“He will glorify Me.” The Spirit comes not to exalt Himself, but to exalt Messiah. It is not the nature of the Holy Spirit to seek attention, or to be in the limelight. Instead, the Holy Spirit always draws our attention to Yeshua. The Spirit’s work is Messiah-centred and Messiah-focused. For us to truly walk in the Spirit means that our lives will glorify Yeshua.

 

After Yeshua’s resurrection (John 20)

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21–22)

This passage comes immediately after Yeshua’s resurrection. At first glance, this passage seems to condense the Great Commission and the Acts 2 outpouring into one event. I would suggest, however, that this was a symbolic precursor to Acts 2.

Breathing on the disciples reminds us of Genesis 2, when God created man:

“The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7)

It is as though Yeshua is breathing into the body of believers to make the Kehillah a “living being.” Just as the body without a spirit is dead, so too the Body of Messiah without the Spirit of Messiah is dead. It is His Spirit that gives us life, and that makes us a viable force for His Kingdom.

All this paves the way for the next session where we will look at the events of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

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References   [ + ]

1. The ESV actually contains a note suggesting “our bread for tomorrow” as an alternative translation. The Greek word usually rendered “daily” is ἐπιούσιον (epiousion), which is found only in the context of the Lord’s Prayer. The now-lost Gospel of the Hebrews apparently read machar (tomorrow). See Jerome, On Matthew 6:11 and Treatise on the Psalms 135. Many scholars see this verse as a reference to the coming Kingdom and its feast. See BDAG, s.v. “ἐπιούσιος,” 377.
2. Note only one preposition (ἐν en) governing both nouns in the Greek.
3. Cf. the “smoking firepot and flaming torch” (Genesis 15:17), the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), the Pillar of Fire (Exodus 13:21-22), and God’s presence on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18). God is called a “consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24).
4. y.Sukkot 5:1 (55a).
5. The Greek word is found in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; and 1 John 2:1. The last passage is in reference to Messiah, rather than the Spirit.
6. Cf. Acts 2:33: “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”


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