Acts 19:1-7 |New Living Translation (NLT)
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them.
“No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
“Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked.
And they replied, “The baptism of John.”
Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.”
As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
Today is the Baptism of our Lord or we could say the Baptism of Jesus. The gospel reading for today highlights Jesus being baptized. As Jesus is being baptized a dove signifying the Holy Spirit descends from heaven and the voice of God the Father speaks. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus and he was preparing the way. In many ways, I see his Jesus baptism as a way of passing on the mantle. John the Baptists’ message was “repent for the Kingdom of God is near.” Jesus now picks up the mantle and begins to proclaim “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
The baptism of Jesus is the beginning of his ministry. Following his baptism, Jesus is led the the wilderness and is tempted for forty days and forty nights.
As we move to the passage in Acts, we see that Paul has come upon a group of believers, but they lack the powers. Paul asks them if they have received the Holy Spirit and they say “No.” Paul is intrigued and follows up more. It’s apparent, at least in the early church that baptism happened early in the believer’s life. They had been baptized but they had received John’s baptism which called for the repentance from sin, but nothing about being filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. They were lacking the dunamis – the dynamite of the Holy Spirit’s power. So Paul baptizes them again, this time in the three fold name of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This time the Holy Spirit falls upon them.
Here is an interesting thought. So many times people only want to be saved from their sins. To put it another way they want to be saved from the terrors of hell, but they don’t want the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit live a life that is pleasing to God. There is more to the Christian life than simply being saved from sin. There is more to the Christian life than simply going to heaven. There is more to the Kingdom of God than heaven. Jesus said “the Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the Gospel or the Good News.” Believing the Gospel is so much more than being saved from our sins and going to heaven. Believing the Gospel means to be incarnational like Jesus is. Jesus came to dwell (to make his home) among us. Jesus lived the Good News among the people. If we are Jesus’ followers and we are by the name we wear, then we are to live the Good News among the people.
Being saved from sin is only one part of the life of a believer. If we are only saved from sin, we will fall over and over and over again back into sin. Jesus wants us to live a life free and above sin. He gave us the power of the Holy Spirit to do that. We are called to be holy as God is holy. If God commanded us to do that, don’t you think he would give us the power to do that? I really do believe that if he commands it, he gives us the power as well.
The Holy Spirit in our lives helps us do two things:
- Through the power of the Holy Spirit we have the power to live the victorious Christian life – one that is free from the power of sin. We are called to live in the holiness of God and the Holy Spirit helps us to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This power also helps us obey the commandments of God that we are called to do as his disciples.
- The second thing the power of the Holy Spirit does is help us live lives of service. Jesus also said that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. There is more to this Christian life than sitting around waiting for heaven. There is a world that needs Jesus. There is a world that needs to see the love of Jesus – that he came to save us from our sins. We should be willing to help our neighbor and get involved in our communities. This is what it means to have an incarnational ministry. A ministry that dwells among the people – a ministry that makes its home among the people.
I challenge you today to live in the power of the Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus during his baptism. God desires that we change the world and it is only the Holy Spirit that can make that happen.