- Lesson 3 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Living in the Spirit” focuses on John 1:29-34.
In these verses, John the Baptist described what happened after Jesus’ baptism. John said he saw “the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him” (1:32). God had given John the Baptist a sure sign to know who the Messiah was (1:33). When John saw the dove as a visible manifestation of the Spirit of God, he was convinced Jesus was the Messiah.
In both verses 31 and 33, John the Baptist emphasized the Spirit would remain on Jesus. This contrasted with the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament, when the Spirit would fill a person for a short time to fulfill a specific task. John was saying that Jesus’ baptism was different.
Jesus’ entire ministry would be marked by dependence on the Holy Spirit’s power. However, Jesus didn’t receive anything new. He already had a deep union with the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity. Rather, John saw a visible symbol of the Spirit as the way God had chosen to show him who the long-awaited Messiah was. But Jesus and the Spirit had not somehow become separate from each other.
Baptism of the Spirit
In verse 33, John the Baptist compared his ministry of baptism to Jesus’ ministry of baptism. John would baptize with water. Jesus would baptize “with the Holy Spirit.” John’s baptism was symbolic, an outward demonstration of an inward cleansing. By contrast, Jesus’ baptism was a real immersion of a different sort.
The Greek word baptizein means “to dip or submerge,” and it can be used in many different contexts. It could refer to clothes being sunk into a dye; it can also refer to a ship under water or being soaked in water. When John the Baptist referred to the baptism Jesus would do, he meant that the Holy Spirit could saturate a person’s life. A believer can be encompassed, surrounded by, and enveloped by the Holy Spirit like a sponge in the ocean.
Later, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His followers (John 14:16-17). He fulfilled that promise on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and empowered them (Acts 2:1-3). For those who surrender to Christ, He comes to live in them through the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in them (Romans 8:9-11).
Filled with the Spirit
It is important to distinguish between baptism of the Spirit and being filled by the Spirit. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when the Spirit comes to live in them. However, being filled with the Spirit is an ongoing process. The Apostle Paul challenged the church in Ephesus to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), so living in God’s power and by God’s strength is a daily pursuit. We seek more and more of the Spirit’s presence and direction in our lives.
In verse 34, the Gospel writer spoke of John the Baptist’s role as a witness. What John had seen at Jesus’ baptism had absolutely convinced him that Jesus was the Messiah, “God’s Chosen One.” John was a more reliable witness of who Jesus was than some people who believed in Jesus because John had actually seen the Spirit descend on Jesus. And he would die believing in Jesus as the Messiah.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
To learn more about BaptistWay Press and the Connect360 Bible study series, or to order materials, click here.