Jesus: What is the secret to Jesus’ success?

Jesus: What is the secret to Jesus’ success?

The life of Jesus Christ, without peer, has left the greatest footprint in world history. When someone’s life towers above everyone else, we study them to learn the secret to their success.

In the Old Testament, things such as a divine ladder, a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, a tabernacle, and then a temple that housed God’s presence closed the distance between the holy God and the unholy people. All of this prefigured the coming of Jesus Christ as the connecting point between God in heaven and people on earth. 1 Timothy 2:5 describes the fulfillment this way, “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” In Jesus Christ, God humbled Himself for the special task of reconciling people to Himself.

The holiest person is also the humblest person. The Creator entered the creation, the eternal God stepped into human history, the omnipresent God walked from place to place—all to reveal God and redeem people.

If Jesus did not use His divine attributes to live His life and leave His legacy, how did He do it? Can you access the same life-giving, destiny-altering, God-revealing power for your life?

If we look to the ancient church creeds (doctrines) that are very helpful for many things, there is one thing missing—how Jesus lived His life. Notice how each creed moves from the birth of Jesus to the death of Jesus and omits the entirety of His life. The Apostles’ Creed (fourth century AD) says Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified…” The Nicene Creed (fourth century AD) says Jesus “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate…”

What is missing? Jesus’ earthly life. If we do not know how Jesus lived His life on earth, how are we supposed to know how to live our life on earth?

Regarding the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, Martyn Lloyd-Jones says:

“What, then, does all this mean? It means that there was no change in His deity, but that He took human nature to Himself, and chose to live in this world as a man. He humbled Himself in that way. He deliberately put limits upon Himself. Now we cannot go further. We do not know how He did it. We cannot understand it, in a sense. But we believe this: in order that He might live this life as a man, while He was here on earth, He did not exercise certain qualities of His Godhead. That was why…He needed to be given the gift of the Holy Spirit without measure”. [ENDNOTE #1]

Abraham Kuyper writes of the importance of the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit:

This ought to be carefully noticed, especially since the Church has never sufficiently confessed the influence of the Holy Spirit exerted upon the work of Christ. The general impression is that the work of the Holy Spirit begins when the work of the Mediator on earth is finished, as tho [sic] until that time the Holy       Spirit celebrated His divine day of rest. Yet the Scripture teaches us again and again that Christ performed His mediatorial work controlled and impelled by the Holy Spirit. [ENDNOTE #2]

In the book Spirit-Filled Jesus, I (Mark) write in detail about the personal relationship between Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and how we can live by His power as Jesus did. The empowerment of Jesus by God the Holy Spirit is repeatedly stressed in the Gospel of Luke which precedes Acts in showing the Spirit-filled life of Christ and then Christians as the two-part history of our faith. Here are a few examples:

  • Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and given the title “Christ,” which means anointed by the Holy Spirit. [FOOTNOTE: Luke 1-2]
  • Jesus’ relative Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when greeting Jesus’ pregnant mother Mary, and her husband Zechariah went on to prophesy in the Spirit that their son John was appointed by God to prepare the way for Jesus. [FOOTNOTE Luke 1:41-43, 67, 76.]
  • An angel revealed to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus because “the Holy Spirit will come upon you.” [FOOTNOTE Luke 1:35-37]
  • Once born, Jesus was dedicated to the Lord in the temple according to the demands of the law by Simeon; “the Holy Spirit was upon [Simeon]” and the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until seeing Jesus Christ. [FOOTNOTE: Luke 2:25-27]
  • Simeon was “in the Spirit” when he prophesied about Jesus’ ministry to Jews and Gentiles. [FOOTNOTE: Luke 2:27-34]
  • John prophesied in the Spirit that one day Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit. [FOOTNOTE: Matt. 3:11; Mar. 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:34]
  • The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his own baptism. [FOOTNOTE: Matt. 3:16; John 1:32-33] Matthew adds the interesting statement that the Spirit rested on Jesus, as if to suggest that the remainder of his life and ministry on the earth would be done under the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit. [FOOTNOTE: Matt. 3:16]
  • Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit.” [FOOTNOTE: Luke 4:1-2]
  • Jesus was “led by the Spirit.” [FOOTNOTE: Luke 4:1-2]
  • Jesus came “in the power of the Spirit.” [FOOTNOTE: Luke 4:14]
  • After reading Isaiah 61:1–2, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,” Jesus declared, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [FOOTNOTE: Luke 4:14-21]
  • Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” [FOOTNOTE: Luke 10:21]

Gerald Hawthorne, who has written one of the most compelling books on the subject of Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit, says, “[Jesus] is the supreme example for them of what is possible in a human life because of his total dependence upon the Spirit of God.” [ENDNOTE #3]

How did Jesus Christ live His life and leave His legacy? By the Spirit.

It is common for Christians to speak about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We absolutely encourage this.

Jesus, however, lived His life by a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Our Helper was also Jesus Helper.

As God’s person, the Holy Spirit is fully God and the third member of the Trinity.

As God’s presence, the Holy Spirit is God with us.

As God’s power, the Holy Spirit empowered the life of Jesus Christ and also empowers the life of believers to live by His power.

If Jesus were living your life, what would He be doing and how would He be doing it? By the Spirit. That’s the key that unlocks the rest of your life. We don’t want you to live your life for Christ. We want Christ to live His life through you!

  1. Lloyd-Jones, God the Father, God the Son, 286–87.
  2. Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, trans. Henri de Vries (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975), 97.
  3. Gerald F. Hawthorne, The Presence and the Power: The Significance of the Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus (Dallas: Word, 1991), 234.