Category Archives: Gospel of Mark

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Jesus’ Miracles

Throughout scripture the Holy Spirit has enabled people to do amazing things. The Spirit empowered several of the judges to do the mighty things God called them to do (Samson and Gideon to name a few). The Holy Spirit came on Saul and enabled him to prophesy (1 Sam 10:6-10). The Holy Spirit enabled the prophets to speak the words of God (Zech 7:9) and helped the craftsmen build the tabernacle (Exodus 31). He helped Joshua lead the people (Deut 34:9). The Holy Spirit has always had a role in the powerful working of God in creation, even showing up in just the second verse of the Bible as God’s Spirit hovered over the deep (Gen 1:2). That is just the Old Testament.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t jump from Old Testament to Acts. The Holy Spirit played a vital role in the ministry of Jesus. The Spirit was there at his baptism (Matt 3:16). The Spirit then led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days (Matt 4:1). There is more…

The Holy Spirit also played a role in the miracles of Jesus. We see that reflected in Luke 4 when Jesus quotes Isa 61 regarding his ministry,

16 He 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, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “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,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

20 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. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 4:16-21

Jesus recognizes the Holy Spirit’s work in His ministry. Just as the Spirit empowered people in the Old Testament, it seems the Spirit had a role in Jesus carrying out his mission as well.

Now, I am going to point out something that I am still working on myself but I think there is something to it that is worth sharing. I believe there is something to it based on what I have just mentioned and the continuity it brings across all of scripture in how the Holy Spirit works not just in the Old Testament and the on to Acts and beyond but also to empower the ministry and miracles of Jesus in the Gospels.

Here it is,

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” – Mark 3:22-30

Earlier in the chapter, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This broke the tradition of the day and the tradition’s definition of “work”. Jesus didn’t break the law as defined by the Torah or as God had intended it but instead broke their traditional boundaries around that law. But to many, especially the Pharisees, this was breaking the Law. This was, in their mind, sin. The Messiah would certainly not break Sabbath so Jesus must not be the Messiah, so the logic goes. But the reality is Jesus is doing miracles which require superhuman power, even spiritual power.They had no way to deny what was happening. Instead they acknowledge the power and the miracle but have to attribute its source to someone or something other than God because, again, God wouldn’t empower a Sabbath-breaking sinner to do these things.

So where does this power come from that a “Sabbath breaker” could do such miraculously powerful deeds? There is only one answer if you have made up your mind that Jesus is not from God and that is His power must come from spiritual forces of evil, the devil himself.

In defending his miracles, Jesus says they are not blaspheming Him, which would be the natural thing to say…or even that they are blaspheming the Father. No. Jesus says the are blaspheming the Holy Spirit because that is where His power is coming from. They are discrediting the Spirit’s power in doing this miraculous works. Jesus is pointing us to the source of the power for His miracles and that is the Holy Spirit. That really shouldn’t surprise us. This is in full continuity with the way the Holy Spirit works across the entire Bible.

Fascinating Story Order in the Gospels

Sometimes the Gospels have stories that are ordered in such a way that it just blows my mind. Because these connections span multiple stories it can be easy to miss because we often study one unit of the text at a time rather than looking at the whole or at least big chunks to seeContinue Reading

Birds, Rocks and Thorny Places

Parables are like ogres, which are like onions…they have layers.   One of the layers that adds rich meaning to the reading and understanding of Jesus’ parables is packaged in identifying with the different characters in the story. This is quickly and easily seen in the parable of the prodigal son where most of usContinue Reading

Jesus Came Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom – What is the Gospel?

We have been following through the ministry of Jesus and are just now only in the very beginning stages. I have written an article on the beginning of Jesus’ ministry over at Wineskins that will serve as the next post in this series. You can read it here. Jesus Came Proclaiming the Gospel of theContinue Reading

Why Did Jesus Heal the Guy Twice? The Importance of Context

In Mark 8 we get the story of a man Jesus healed twice. The first healing only enabled the man to see partially. The second healing allowed him to see clearly. What is going on in this story? Either Jesus’ power was a bit off that day or he was up to something. I voteContinue Reading

Bio Sketch of James the Brother of Jesus

In studying for a class on the book of James I ran down some information on the author, James the half-brother of Jesus that I found extremely helpful in understanding the letter itself.   James is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Jacob. His mother was Mary (Mark 6:3), his half brother was JesusContinue Reading

Living Between the Cups…which Passover Cup Jesus used at the Last Supper and What that Means for Us

When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper we are told that it was in the context of a Passover meal. Mark 14:12-18 says, 12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparationsContinue Reading

Reading the Bible Contextually – The Double Healing of Mark 8

I love reading scripture. I also love reading about how to read scripture better. As you read about the Bible and commentaries on Bible passages you become aware of more of the things that are going on in the text that never jumped out at you before. It pays to learn some of the techniquesContinue Reading

Jesus in Context – One of the Most Helpful Biblical Background Books Around

I recently came across the most helpful resources on the historical backgrounds to the Gospels that I have ever seen. It is called Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study by Darrell Bock. This book works through the synoptics and John and pulls just about any relevant extra-biblical text in full quotation to help you seeContinue Reading

Two Questions that Are Essential For Discipleship

Last year we created an evangelistic study of Mark called Jesus 101. The study is designed to be used with seekers so that they can discover who Jesus is by studying Mark. Mark is the perfect book for that because it is a little bit of a mystery until chapter 8. At that point inContinue Reading

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