Empowered by the Holy Spirit by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,  and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s .”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:16-21NIV

The New Testament reveals that through Jesus the promises and hope of the Old Testament people was to be fulfilled (S. Grenz). The Old Testament is full of accounts of the Spirit of God preparing men for special service (Agnew).  In this passage Luke portrays Jesus as the man anointed with the power of the Spirit.  After his baptism Jesus returns to Galilee full of the Spirit which is the distinguishing mark of His ministry and signifies his preparation for service.

Jesus begins His ministry in Luke by identifying Himself as the fulfilment of Isaiah 61.  Jesus revealed as Christ the Messiah, the anointed one (Grenz).  He then declares His divine mission to Earth to bring salvation to the world (Congdon).  It was His destiny to bring deliverance to all men and women, in partnership with the Holy Spirit (Chant).

Years back when I was doing volunteer work at Varanasi, we rescued these kids from a local incense factory. HWA Varanasi (NGO in Varanasi) is working on the betterment of street children by offering education, accommodations and all basic necessities - India.

It is also a distinguishing mark of His ministry that  He welcomes the poor the broken and the marginalised (McGrath).

His concern for the poor and the oppressed is central to the mission of Christ.

Jesus was anointed to liberate the most vulnerable people in society, bringing them justice and freedom and ushering a new social order (Hoek).

Francis Assisi puts it this way;

‘When we touch the poor or are touched by them, we are touching God Himself’.

Debate around His divinity. 

There are two distinguishing features around the debate of the ‘anointing or divinity’ of Christ which bring us to a clearer understanding about this debate.

  • They are the act of incarnation and the act of inspiration.

Incarnation is God the word becoming flesh.  Inspiration is where God the Spirit comes upon a person (Work).  At His baptism Jesus is the divine incarnate Word made flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit who at His baptism is empowered by the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit and inaugurated for his mission as Messiah to save and empower the world.  These events give evidence of His divinity (Young).

John Calvin asks the question.  Why did the Spirit who had once dwelt within Christ now descend upon Him?  He answers it by reading Isaiah 61 and summarises this way.  The Spirit of God did dwell in Christ, but when it was time for him to ‘discharge the office of redeemer’ He is anointed and empowered once more.  This was so that others might understand and consider ‘His divine power’.

When Jesus declares that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him, it confirms that Christ has been sent by God to bring salvation to man and does nothing by human advice but only by the confirmation and anointing of the Spirit (Calvin).

Graffiti with red heart

There is tension in comprehending the hypostatic union of Jesus as ‘divine saviour’, both ‘very God and very man’ (Bloesch).

It is confusing at times to look myopically at a particular Gospel scriptures that speak of Christ as either human of divine.

Augustine’s teaching on the Holy Trinity and his description of the dichotomy and tension of the written accounts of Christ as human and Christ as divine have helped bring clarity to these nuances.  He is not human one minute and then divine the next, He is both and we need to look at the whole picture.

The whole Lukan nativity is dominated but the Holy Spirit (Bruce).  Christology (the study of Christ) and Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit) converge in Jesus who was conceived by the Spirit, inaugurated and empowered for ministry by the Spirit, ministered in the Spirit and finally was raised from the dead and made alive again by the Spirit (De Colle).

Luke certainly wants us to understand that there is a strong outworking of the Holy Spirit in the partnership, life and work of Jesus (Bruce).  It would seem consequently that the Holy Spirit and the son work together and have coordinated missions.  This is contrary to some who believe that incarnation is the primary work of God and that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is separate and secondary (Coffey).

The challenge to us all is Luke’s successive writing in Acts where the mission of Christ is then passed on to the church with the same prerequisite of empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24, Acts 1). This challenge applies to all of us in this part of history. More than ever we need the inspiration and empowerment of the Holy Spirit so that we can partner with Christ to do his mission and work on the earth today.

Lisa Hunt-Wotton


Agnew, M. (1966).  The works of the Holy Spirit.  Wesleyan Theological Journal.

Bloesch, D. (1997) Jesus Christ.  Downers Grove:IL: Intervarsity Press.

Bruce, F. (1990). Lukes presentation of the Spirit in Acts.  Criswell Theological Review 5.1, 15-29

Calvin, J. (1845).  Calvin’s commentary on Matthew, Mark and Luke (Vol1). (W.R.Pringle, Ed.) Grand Rapids: MI.

Chant, B. (2002). Walking with a limp.  Adelaide:SA.  Openbook Publishers.

Coffey, D. (1997).  The common and the ordained priesthood.  Theological Studies, 209-224.

Congdon, D. (n.d.). Missional Theology: A Primer.  Retrieved March 22, 2011, from Academia.edu: Princeton Theological Seminary.

De Colle, R. (1994).  Christ and the Spirit.  New York: Oxford.

Grenz, S. (1996).  Created for community.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Hoek, M. (2008).  Micah’s Challenge.  London: Paternoster Post.

Work, T. (2003).  The Humility of Christ.

Young, J. (1805-1881).  Christ of history.  New York: Robert Carter and Brothers.

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Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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