Make Disciples 8


Thomas a' Kempis a medieval Roman Catholic monk was somewhat of a Christian mystic who in the 1400's wrote a book that has become a Christian Classic entitled "Imitation of Christ." It is interesting that God used this book and a frightening experience at sea to sow the seeds of John Newton's (writer of Amazing Grace) radical conversion from slave trader to advocate of abolition of the slave trade! I think the title of a' Kempis' book nicely summarizes what we are tying to discern from the Scriptures -- how to walk as Jesus walked while He was on earth during his 3+ year ministry. As an aside if you read a' Kempis' book be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and be aware that while very devotional in style, there are clearly several doctrinal "aberrations" with which most evangelicals would disagree. For example, a' Kempis writes that "A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will." This statement is clearly contrary to the Biblical concept of grace which is often defined as "unmerited favor," and any victory over self is the result of the enabling power of the Spirit, not our self will or self effort! As Paul says "if you are (present tense-continually, habitually) living according to the flesh, you must die (THIS IS A DESCRIPTION OF A NON-BELIEVER); but if by the Spirit (GOD'S PART) you are (present tense - continually) putting to death (OUR RESPONSIBILITY) the (evil, flesh initiated) deeds of the body, you will live." (Ro 8:13+).

We will first address the question, does the Bible really say we are to walk like Jesus, because after all He was God and we are not (to paraphrase Chevy Chase)! We'll call several "witnesses" to the stand and carefully "cross-examine" them to see if this proposition is truly to be our practice. We will briefly look at Paul's description of Jesus' emptying of His divine power and prerogatives. Then we will look at how Jesus was enabled to function in His incarnation, ever bearing in mind the mysterious truth that as the perfect God-Man Jesus never ceased being God in His "emptying" in preparation for His incarnation. Finally, in the next session (#9) we will study how He equipped His disciples to walk as He walked.

The writer of Hebrews pictures our Christian life with the metaphor of a race...

Hebrews 12:1-note Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside (apotithemi - like dirty clothes!) every encumbrance (hindrance, weight that keeps us from running - do you read your FB post before you read God's Word? Do you have a time consuming hobby such that you forfeit time in His Word?) and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race (Gk agona - Gives us English "agony!" The race is not a cakewalk!) that is set before us, (Heb 12:2-note) fixing our eyes on Jesus (aphorao = continually [present tense] looking away from thus giving full attention to the one thing to exclusion of everything else - undivided attention, looking without being distracted) the Author (founder - pioneer, trailblazer) and Perfecter (finisher) of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we experience the words of the great hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

So let's fix our eyes on Jesus
Who has run and won the race of faith!


First, let's examine the Scripture like good Bereans (Acts 17:11-note) to see if they really instruct us to walk like Jesus walked. It is one thing to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2-note), but it is quite another to walk as He walked. After all He is Jesus and we are not. So what saith the Scriptures? Recall that in the Old Testament Israel was to present at least two or more credible witnesses to provide testimony as to the truth of a matter (Dt 17:6). So let's "call our witnesses to the stand" and cross-examine them.



1Cor 4:16 I exhort you therefore, be (present imperative) imitators of me.

1Cor 11:1-note Be (present imperative) imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

Keep in mind that most of the New Testament was not written yet and so Paul's life was the Bible that most of the new believer's read (of course they had access to his letters but those were written over many years - Click to see a list of approximate dates in which the Bible books written - notice that 1Corinthians is one of the earlier books making Paul's example of paramount importance). And so twice in his first letter to the church at Corinth (a church in great need of a reliable role model) Paul commands the saints to walk as he himself walked explaining that he sought to imitate Christ's walk. Notice that "just as" is a term of comparison which should always prompt the question "What is the writer comparing?"

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) translation: Try to imitate me, even as I myself try to imitate the Messiah -

Ed comment: I do not like the CJB translation as it seems to suggest we need to exert self-effort to accomplish the goal but this is only half true, for the only way we can carry out this command is by renouncing self-effort and relying wholly on the Holy Spirit's enablement!

How many of us could confidently say (this is particularly applicable to fathers for "little eyes" are always watching your actions and "little ears" always listening to your words -- I'm 70yo and I can guarantee you this a truism, for better or for worse!)...

"My life is an open book."

"My life is the book from which I want you to learn.''

"My life agrees with my teaching."

If we would desire to be men who make disciples (Mt 28:19) able to teach other men (2Ti 2:2-note), then we need to be able to say to them "Be imitators of me, just as I am of Jesus." This is also a good pattern for anything spiritual we are allowed to do -- to point away from ourselves and to Christ! As a corollary, it is not wrong to follow the example of a man, as long as that man is following Christ!

So clearly believers can walk like Christ walked or otherwise Paul could not have issued this command. It therefore behooves us to study the life of Christ diligently to see how He walked and more specifically how He was enabled to walk the way He walked. The answer to that question will be addressed in part 3, the Example of Christ.

Jon Courson - If chapters 10 and 11 were divided most logically, this verse (1Cor 11:1) would be at the end of chapter 10. After ending his discussion of Christian liberty, Paul simply says, “If you want to know what to do—just follow me.” Paul’s is a statement I pray we can make increasingly our own when our kids are confused, our neighbors are questioning, or newer Christians are wondering about what they should do.

See also - 1 Corinthians 11:1 Commentary


Jesus Christ - what Paul is really doing is issuing a command for Christ-likeness!


Paul modeled death to self and reliance on Christ (His indwelling Spirit) to live His live through him by faith.

Warren Wiersbe - As Christ lives out His life through us (cf Col 3:4-note), we are able to follow His example and walk as He walked. Paul expresses this experience perfectly: “Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20-note). This is a reference to the work of the Holy Spirit. Christ is our Advocate in heaven (1John 2:1-note ), to represent us before God when we sin. The Holy Spirit is God’s Advocate for us here on earth.....Christ lives out His life through us by the power of the Spirit, Who lives within our bodies. It is not by means of imitation that we abide in Christ and walk as He walked. No, it is through incarnation: through His Spirit, “Christ liveth in me.”


As Wiersbe explains we only able to practice the imitation of Christ because of the incarnation of Christ! We must continually renounce self-reliance and rely solely on the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus-Acts 16:7, the Spirit of Christ-Ro 8:9) to energize us, continually giving us the DESIRE and the POWER to imitate Christ. And so we are 100% responsibility is to work out our "imitation of Christ," but at the same time we are 100% dependent on the Spirit's work in us to enable this imitation (Php 2:12-note; Php 2:13NLT-note).

Note that the art of "mime" emphasizes actions (to "mime" = use gesture and movement without words in the acting of a play or role) and so we should let our actions speak louder than our words! Then our mime (our actions) will give an opportunity to explain Who it is we are imitating!

Here are some other passages that also speak of imitation of the life of other saints -

James 5:10-11 As an example (hupodeigma), brethren, of suffering and patience, take (aorist imperative) the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.


1Thes 1:5-8-note for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 You also became imitators (mimetes) of us (Who? see 1Th 1:1-note) and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation (thlipsis) with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example (mimetes) to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia (Do you see the pattern of making disciples in the Thessalonian believers?) 8 For (term of explanation - What is Paul explaining?) the word of the Lord (in context synonymous with the Gospel) has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.


2Thes 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example.


Phil 3:17-note - Brethren, join in following (literally "become [present imperative] followers together") my example (summimetes), and observe (skopeo in the present imperative) those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.


Phil 4:9-note The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice (prasso in the present imperative) these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.


Eph 5:1-2-note Therefore (term of conclusion - What is Paul concluding? See Eph 4:32) be imitators (mimetes) of God, as beloved children; 5:2 and walk (peripateo) in love, just as (term of comparison) Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.


2Ti 3:10-note But you (Timothy) followed (parakoloutheo) my (Paul's) teaching, conduct (Note order - doctrine first but then watching to see if if walked what he talked!), purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,


Hebrews 13:7-note Remember (present imperative) those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate (present imperative) their faith.


Charles Spurgeon once said that "A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ...We should be pictures of Christ....Oh! My brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk towards heaven rapidly, so keep your head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ.


1 Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose (What is this to which the saints were called? See context which is king in interpretation! - 1Pe 2:20-note), since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.


Suffering for doing right, not suffering for doing wrong!

Example is a Greek word hupogrammos (hupo - under + grapho - write) and pictured a pupil copying letters written across the top of a page. It was a school word. Teachers would lightly trace the letters of the alphabet so that students could write over them to learn how to write (see illustration). Or, as in our day, teachers would put examples of the alphabet up in the room for students to look at to copy as they formed their letters. Christ is that kind of example for us. If we follow how He lived, we will form our lives correctly (enabled by His Spirit).


Following “in His steps” pictures a child who steps in his father’s footprints in the snow or sand. Where the father goes, the child goes, because he puts his feet in those same footprints. In like manner, we are to follow our Savior. That is what disciples do -- they follow the footsteps of Jesus and so it behooves us to diligently study where His footsteps trod in the Gospels!

Charles M. Sheldon wrote a book entitled In His Steps (What Would Jesus Do?) -- you might want to read this Christian classic (one of the best-selling books of all time - >30 million copies sold), especially after you fully understand "how Jesus did what He did!".


1 John 2:6-note the one who says he abides (present tense = continually, as shown by his lifestyle) in Him (in Christ) ought (is obligated) himself to walk (present tense) in the same manner as He walked.


Our profession of abiding in Christ (i.e., that we are genuine believers) should be validated by our lifestyle, a lifestyle that looks more and more like Jesus as we grow in grace and Christ-likeness. Stated another way, we should live like Christ if we profess to live in Christ.

We need to study the way Jesus walked and how He was able to walk the way He walked (see #4 Example of Jesus below)

Our Actions Speak Louder
than our Words!


John 13:15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.

WHAT IS THE CONTEXT? (Observe that FOR [Gk = gar] is a term of explanation [you can substitute "because" which always helps discern when "for" is used as a term of explanation] - WHAT IS JESUS EXPLAINING?)

John 13:14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.


Jesus' washing the feet of the disciples gives us His example of loving humility and willingness to serve others even with the most menial tasks. This recalls Jesus' purpose for coming to earth in Mk 10:45.

Someone once quipped...


"The world asks how many people work for you?"

"Jesus asks for how many people do you work?"


Let's review the mysterious truth of what happened when Jesus became a Man by focusing on the key passage in which Paul commands the saints to...

Phil 2:5-8-note Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant (doulos), (Jesus' example #1) and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He (voluntarily, of His own volition) humbled (tapeinoo) Himself (Jesus example #2) by becoming obedient (hupekoos) to the point of death (Jesus example #3), even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8-note)

Comment: Php 2:6-7 is the Biblical basis for the theological term known as kenosis, which is the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying preceding His incarnation. It is important to emphasize that in this self-renunciation, Jesus did not empty Himself of His deity, nor did He cease being fully God when He became fully Man. This is surely one of the greatest mysteries in all of Scripture and I doubt if we will fully comprehend even in eternity. So how do conservative sources explain the doctrine of kenosis?

Dr John Walvoord writes that...

The act of kenosis as stated in Philippians 2 properly understood to mean that Christ surrendered no attribute of deity, but that He did voluntarily restrict their independent use in keeping with His purpose of living among men and their limitations. The summary which is given by A. H. Strong sets forth the true doctrine in comparison to the false in these words: “Our doctrine of Christ’s humiliation will be better understood if we put it midway between two pairs of erroneous views, making it the third of five. The list would be as follows: (1) Gess: The Logos gave up all divine attributes; (2) Thomasius: The Logos gave up relative attributes only; (3) True View: The Logos gave up the independent exercise of divine attributes; (4) Old Orthodoxy: Christ gave up the use of divine attributes; (5) Anselm: Christ acted as if He did not possess divine attributes.” (See Dr Walvoord's full article - The Humiliation of the Son of God)

Gotquestions has this note on kenosis...

The term kenosis comes from the Greek word for the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying in His incarnation. The kenosis was a self-renunciation, not an emptying Himself of deity nor an exchange of deity for humanity. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Jesus did not cease to be God during His earthly ministry. But He did set aside His heavenly glory of a face-to-face relationship with God. He also set aside His independent authority. During His earthly ministry, Christ completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father (Ed: Note Jesus' repeatedly says he can do nothing on His "own initiative" - Jn 5:19, Jn 5:30, Jn 8:28, 12:49, Jn 14:10)

As part of the kenosis, Jesus sometimes operated with the limitations of humanity (John 4:6; 19:28). God does not get tired or thirsty. Matthew 24:36 tells us, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” We might wonder if Jesus was God, how could He not know everything, as God does (Ps 139:1-6)? It seems that while Jesus was on earth, He surrendered the use of some of His divine attributes. Jesus was still perfectly holy, just, merciful, gracious, righteous, and loving - but to varying degrees Jesus was not omniscient or omnipotent.

However, when it comes to the kenosis, we often focus too much on what Jesus gave up. The kenosis also deals with what Christ took on. Jesus added to Himself a human nature and humbled Himself. Jesus went from being the glory of glories in Heaven to being a human being who was put to death on the cross. Philippians 2:7-8 declares, "taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" In the ultimate act of humility, the God of the universe became a human being and died for His creation. The kenosis, therefore, is Christ taking on a human nature with all of its limitations, except with no sin. (What is the kenosis?)

Elmer Towns - "When Bible teachers seek to explain how Jesus became a Man, they use the word kenosis to describe the self-emptying of Jesus in taking on Human Flesh (Php 2:7+). This emptying includes submitting to the limitations of humanity. Although Jesus never ceased to be God during His life on earth, He was nevertheless dependent upon the Third Person of the Trinity to accomplish much of the work of God. (The Names of the Holy Spirit)"(or here)

Note also that the have this attitude is present imperative and thus is a command to make this our continual attitude or our lifestyle! Now just try to do this in your own "natural" strength! We cannot! The truth is that we must continually depend on the Holy Spirit for the desire and the power to have this selfless attitude! See Php 2:13NLT+ which alludes to the continual "energizing work" of the Spirit Who indwells every believer. (Ro 8:9+)


Recall that 1Cor 11:1+ says Paul imitated Jesus and it is He Who we are to daily seek to imitate. In Php 2:5-8 Paul gives us 3 specific attitudes that we are to have as we seek to imitate Christ:

(1) AN ATTITUDE OF A BONDSERVANT, - In the NT a doulos is described as one who in essence is no longer their own but belongs to another. As believers we must realize that we are no longer our own, but have been bought with a price (redeemed with the blood of the Lamb - 1Pe 1:18-19-+) and are the property of Jesus. Our will should be continually, wholly surrendered to the will of our Master, even to the disregard of our own interest. (1Cor 6:19+, 1Cor 6:20+, 1Peter 2:9+, Titus 2:14+).

(2) AN ATTITUDE OF HUMILITY - "not proud" (especially not proud of our "humility!") Spurgeon said that "Humility is to make a right assessment of oneself....The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem."

(3) AN ATTITUDE OF BEING WILLING TO OBEY (EVEN TO THE POINT OF DEATH). How does this apply to believers? In our daily experience, God providentially provides many unexpected "pop tests," which are "opportunities" for us to die to self and to relinquish our rights and our desires for the betterment of another person (See Mk 8:34, 35+, Mt 16:25+, Lk 9:23-24+ cp Php 2:3-4).

In summary, in His incarnation, as a result of His "Self-emptying", Jesus fully God, voluntarily choose to live as fully Man on earth subject to the limitations of human existence. In so doing, He gave us the example of One Who was the perfect Man (What Adam was before he sinned!). The first Adam failed (Ro 5:12). The "Second [more accurately the Last] Adam" (cp 1Cor 15:22, 45) succeeded in giving us a perfect example of how to live a supernatural life pleasing to the Father (cf Jn 8:28, Mt 3:17, 17:5). And so we see that not only did Jesus depend on the Spirit for His supernatural power, but He also depended on His Father for guidance, continually seeking not His own will but the will of His Father (Read Jn 5:19, Jn 5:30, Jn 8:42, Mt 26:39). As followers of Jesus we are to walk in His steps (1Pe 2:21) and daily surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit and the will of the Father.


There was a popular wrist-band with the letters "WWJD" prompting the question of the wearer "What Would Jesus Do?" In our study, we might have a bracelet with the letters "HDJD" or "How Did Jesus Do it?"


WHAT DOES Mt 3:16-17 TEACH US ABOUT US ABOUT JESUS' AT THE BEGINNING OF HIS 3.5 YEAR MINISTRY? (See explanation of why I say 3.5 years)

Mt 3:16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased.”

Comment: John 1:32-33 adds that the Spirit "remained on" Jesus. However the fact that the Gospel writers describe the Spirit at a point in time coming upon Jesus does not imply that up to this point He did not have the Holy Spirit because the Trinity has been in perfect, inseparable communion throughout eternity.

John MacArthur - That the Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form like a dove does not, as is commonly assumed, mean that the Spirit appeared in the physical form of a dove. The phrase does not describe a birdlike visible manifestation of the Spirit’s presence, but rather that visible manifestation’s manner of movement as it descended upon Jesus. “What was visible was not a dove, but rather what was seen is compared to a dove, … The manner of the Spirit’s descent was like the way a dove floats gracefully through the air” (Darrell L. Bock, Luke 1:1–9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994], 338). The visible reality of the Spirit’s presence indicates His approval of and involvement in the Son’s ministry. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary-Luke)


Luke 3:21 Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (synonymous with Jesus' anointing for ministry, cf Acts 4:26-27) in bodily form (a detail given only by Luke) like a dove (term of comparison - symbolic - Spirit was not a "dove" per se but clearly He was visible!), and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.” 23 And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli.


From the preceding passages Jesus' ministry was inaugurated when the Holy Spirit came upon Him and "anointed" Him at His baptism (cf Lk 4:18, Isa 61:1).

HOW DOES Acts 10:38 HELP US UNDERSTAND WHAT JESUS' BAPTISM DEPICTED? Context = Peter is speaking in the house of the Gentile Cornelius and to those gathered with him.


Acts 10:37-38 (Context: In verse 37 Peter begins gives an overview of Jesus’ life which continues through Acts 10:42.) You (Gentile Cornelius and those with him) yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea (map - speaking of Jesus' public ministry the news of which had spread throughout the region, not just among Jews but among Gentiles who lived in Judea, cp Acts 26:26), starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. ("after" = expression of time) 38 "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed (see comment below) Him with the Holy Spirit (Peter is referring to Jesus' baptism, cp Lk 4:18 fulfilling prophecy - Isa 61:1, cp Isa 42:1, 11:2-see note) and with power (dunamis = supernatural power, the same power God via His Spirit makes available to ALL disciples of Christ), and how He went about doing good (present tense = continually doing good), and healing (present tense = continually) all who were oppressed by (present tense = continually being dominated by the harsh, tyrannical power of) the devil (see 1Jn 3:8); for God was (imperfect tense = continual or repeated action) with Him.

Comment: When Peter said "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth He was saying, “God declared Him to be the Messiah which fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, to which Jesus Himself appealed in Luke 4:17-18 (the Jews should have recognized Him as the long expected Messiah!).

Acts 1:22 beginning with the baptism of John ("beginning with" = expression of time - speaking of Jesus' baptism by John), until (Another expression of time) the day that He was taken up from us–one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

Comment: Peter was laid down the qualifications for Judas’s replacement and he had to be one who had witnessed all of Jesus' earthly ministry beginning at His baptism (when He was anointed) with the Spirit until His ascension in Acts 1:9-11.

John MacArthur has a helpful note as to when the ministry of Jesus began - "Jesus began His public ministry at His baptism (cf. Acts 1:21-22; 10:37-38), at which point He was about thirty years of age. That was a customary age for men of God to begin their ministries. Ezekiel began his prophetic ministry at age thirty (Ezek 1:1). Joseph was also thirty years old when he became the prime minister of Egypt (Ge 41:46), and David was thirty when he ascended to Israel’s throne (2Sa 5:4). Thirty was also the age at which the priests began to serve (Num. 4:3, 35, 39, 43, 47; 1Chr 23:3). Jesus thus began His public ministry at an age that people would consider appropriate. (Luke - MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

John Polhill adds that Acts 10:37-42 "is unique among the speeches of Acts in the amount of attention it gives to the ministry of Jesus. The other speeches of Peter emphasize the death and resurrection, as does this speech (Acts 10:39–40). Only the sermon in Cornelius’s house, however, provides an outline of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Acts 10:37–38)." (New American Commentary)

In summary Acts 10:37-38 summarizes the 3.5 year ministry of Jesus. He went about doing good and healing because God was with Him. And how was God with Him? In the anointing with the Holy Spirit and with power. And every believer has access to the same Spirit and power by which they can imitate Christ and follow in His steps.



All 3 synoptic Gospels record the devil's temptation of Christ immediately (Mark's word) after His baptism by the Spirit.

Mark 1:12 And immediately the Spirit impelled (ekballo = drove) Him to go out into the wilderness.

Comment: The verb ekballo literally meant to throw out or cast out and was used of casting out demons. In this context it does not mean Jesus was forced into the wilderness against His will (as would be the case with demons cast out) but that Jesus went into the wilderness led by a strong sense of the Spirit's compulsion!

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (peirazo) by the devil.

Comment: Notice the time sensitive word "then" (expression of time) which should always prompt a question like "To what time is the writer referring? What just transpired? etc" The adverb then marks that which is next in order of time, following next after in order of position, narration or being next in a series. Observing then can be very useful in following the course of events in a section. In this case then serves to mark Jesus' baptism as followed by His temptation and Mark adds that it occurred "immediately."

Luke 4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness. 2 for forty days, being tempted (peirazo in the present tense = continually) by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.

Comment: While Matthew and Luke record 3 specific temptations, Luke's use of the present tense indicates that Jesus was continually tempted during the 40 day fast. It is also worth noting that filled with the Spirit is a favorite expression of Luke - Luke 1:15, 41, 67; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5 (6:8); 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9.

John MacArthur - Being filled with the Spirit is the constant goal and lifelong pursuit of all believers (Eph. 5:18-note). But Jesus lived His entire life totally filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit. He was, in His humanity, fully yielded to the Spirit’s control, having voluntarily set aside the use of His divine attributes (see the discussion of 3:22 in chapter 20 of this volume). Jesus’ submission to the Holy Spirit caused Him to always do the Father’s will. His temptation did not result from His making wrong choices that left Him in a vulnerable situation. It did not result from Him straying from God’s will; on the contrary, it was the will of God that He face and defeat the devil. For that purpose Jesus was literally driven into the wilderness by the Spirit (Mark 1:12) (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Robert Stein points out that "The conflict was not initiated by the devil but by the Spirit. Thus Jesus was not portrayed as passively being dragged out by the Evil One to endure temptation, for the initiator of this event was not the devil but God. The picture is that of the Anointed of the Lord on the offensive and led by the Spirit to confront the devil. (The New American Commentary: Luke)

One principle is to be aware that after we experience a spiritual "high" we are vulnerable for temptation. And notice that Satan tempted Jesus when He was weak and hungry. That's often when I am personally most vulnerable to attack.

Martin Luther once said, “There are three things that make a Christian—prayer, meditation, and temptation.”


Believers are continually led by the Spirit

Gal 5:18-note But if you are (being) led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Note that being led by the Spirit is virtually synonymous with walking by the Spirit - Gal 5:16-note).

Ro 8:13-note for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are (continually) being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Believers are to be continually filled with the Spirit.

Eph 5:18-note And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit


Luke 4:14-15 And Jesus returned to see map) in the power (dunamis) of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.

IN SUMMARY, HOW DID JESUS FUNCTION AS THE GOD-MAN? (I realize walking on water and raising the dead don't fit neatly into this picture!)

Since He had emptied Himself of His divine prerogatives, He clearly functioned in dependence on the Holy Spirit Who filled Him, led Him and empowered Hi. Believers today have access to the same Source for they can be filled (Eph 5:18), led (Gal 5:18, cp Ro 8:14) and empowered for ministry (Acts 1:8) by the Holy Spirit.


John MacArthur offers a helpful summary of the role of the Spirit in Jesus' earthly life...

The Spirit’s descent (in Mt 3:16-17, Lk 3:21-23) was merely a symbolic act, indicating publicly His empowerment for Jesus’ life and ministry. A way to understand this empowerment is to consider that the Son “emptied Himself” (Phil. 2:7) of the personal prerogative in the use of His divine attributes and allowed Himself to submit to the will of the Father and the power of the Spirit. In effect, the Spirit mediated between our Lord’s divine and human natures. Beginning with His miraculous conception (Luke 1:35; cf. Mt. 1:18, 20), the Spirit was involved in every aspect of Christ’s life (cf. Lk 4:1, 14; 10:21; Mt. 4:1; 12:28; Acts 10:38; Heb. 9:14).

The Old Testament records many instances of the Spirit coming upon individuals to anoint them for special service, including Moses (Num. 11:17), Joshua (Num. 27:18), the seventy elders of Israel (Num. 11:25), Gideon (Judg. 6:34), Jephthah (Judg. 11:29), Samson (Jdg. 13:25), Saul (1Sa 10:1, 6), David (1Sa 16:13), Elijah (1Ki 18:12; 2Ki 2:16), Azariah (2Chr 15:1), Zechariah (2Chr. 24:20), Ezekiel (Ezek 2:1–2), and Micah (Mic 3:8). All those men, however, were limited in their ability to be empowered by the Spirit by their sinful, fallen human natures. But since Jesus was God in human flesh, God gave Him the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). The Old Testament also taught that God would give the Spirit to the Messiah. Isaiah 11:1–2 predicted that “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him.” In Isaiah 42:1, God said of the Messiah, “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him,” while in Isaiah 61:1–2 the Messiah says, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn."

Throughout Christ’s entire life, including His development (Luke 2:52), sinless obedience, triumph over temptation, preaching, healing, casting out demons, death (cf. Heb. 9:14-note), and resurrection (cf. Ro 1:4-note), His deity was mediated to His humanity by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s power was essential, since in His deity Christ would not have done the miraculous deeds He did, or say the divine words He spoke. The reason for that is found in Php 2:6–7-note, which says that “although [Christ] existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Jesus voluntarily surrendered the independent use of His divine power, and submitted Himself completely to the will of the Father. And though His human nature was sinlessly perfect, it nevertheless did not have supernatural power. Thus Christ performed His miraculous deeds through the Spirit’s power, so much so that to attribute His works to Satan is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31–32). It must be stressed that that in no way limits Christ’s full deity and equality with the Father (cf. Col. 2:9-note). But in the wonder and mystery of the incarnation, He set aside the independent use of His divine attributes. (Luke -MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Ed comment: And I would add in so doing, Jesus gave us the perfect example to imitate. Of course we will not achieve perfection in our imitation of Jesus, but we can and should demonstrate an ever Godward "direction" as the Spirit conforms and transforms us to the image of Jesus (Ro 8:29-note, 2Cor 3:18-note).

This begs the question, "Am I walking the way Jesus walked? Am I continually yielding to the the Spirit's filling and leading as Jesus exemplified? Paul commanded us to imitate him just as he imitated Jesus, and what God commands, He always enables. The key of course is for us to continually jettison self-reliance and rely wholly on the Holy Spirit to enable us to accomplish supernaturally what we cannot accomplish naturally. In so doing we are daily working out our salvation in fear and trembling which is pleasing to our Father. (Php 2:12-note; Php 2:13NLT-note)


Below is an summary of passages that help us understand how to walk like Jesus (time allows us to only cover a few of these passages and some have been covered in our previous studies).

1) Exhortation of Witnesses

1 Cor 11:1, 4:16, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 John 2:6, John 13:15

Compare - Heb 12:1-2, Php 2:5, Php 2:7, 8, Php 3:17 2Ti 3:10 Ep 5:1-2 2Th 3:7-9 1Ti 4:12 Titus 2:7-8 Heb 6:12, 13:7 1Pe 5:3 3Jn11, John 10:4-5 )

2) Emptying by Jesus of His Divine Prerogatives

Php 2:3-8

3) Example of Jesus' the Perfect Man

(a) Baptism (Anointing) - Mt 3:16-17, Lk 3:22-23, cp our anointing 1Jn 2:20, 27, 2 Cor 1:21-22

(b) Spirit remained - John 1:32, cp Isa 11:1-5, Acts 10:37-38

(c) Leading, Filling, Empowering - Mt 4:1, Lk 4:1, 14-15, Acts 1:2, Acts 10:37-38

Anointing (Baptism) - Lk 4:18-20 (Isa 61:1-2), Acts 10:37-38

Joy - Luke 10:21 (cp Acts 13:15, Ro 15:13, Gal 5:22)

Casting out demons - Mt 12:28

4) Equipping of the Disciples

Jn 14:12, Jn 14:16, 17, 18, 26 (cp Jn 6:63, Jn 7:37-39, Lk 24:49)

Jn 15:26, 27

Jn 16:7-11, 13-14

5) Experience of the Disciples

Acts 1:5, Acts 1:8 (cp Acts 4:31),

Acts 2:1-4, Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2:33, 38 (cp Jn 14:16, Lk 24:49)

Acts 4:8, 31, (boldness)

Acts 13:52 (joy)

Acts 6:3, 5, 8, 10,

Acts 7:55-56, 59,

Acts 8:29 & Acts 10:19, 11:12, Acts 11:28, Acts 13:2, 15:28, Acts 20:23, 21:4,11, 28:25 (cp Acts 4:25)

Acts 11:24

Acts 16:7 (Spirit of Jesus)

Acts 9:17, Acts 13:9, 52

6) Epistles of Paul

Gal 5:16-18, 25,

Gal 5:22-23

Phil 2:12-13

Eph 5:18ff compared to Col 3:16ff,

Negative Commands: Eph 4:30, 1Th 5:19

7) "Enemies" of the Spirit

Acts 5:3 (lie)

Acts 5:9 (test)

Acts 7:51 (resist)

Eph 4:30 (grieve)

1Th 5:19 (quench)

Mt 12:32 (speak a word against),

Mk 3:29 (blaspheme)

Spurgeon on John 14:16...

“He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” — John 14:16

Great Father revealed himself to believers of old before the coming of his Son, and was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the God Almighty. Then Jesus came, and the ever-blessed Son in his own proper person, was the delight of his people’s eyes. At the time of the Redeemer’s ascension, the Holy Spirit became the head of the present dispensation, and his power was gloriously manifested in and after Pentecost. He remains at this hour the present Immanuel—God with us, dwelling in and with his people, quickening, guiding, and ruling in their midst. Is his presence recognized as it ought to be? We cannot control his working; he is most sovereign in all his operations, but are we sufficiently anxious to obtain his help, or sufficiently watchful lest we provoke him to withdraw his aid? Without him we can do nothing, but by his almighty energy the most extraordinary results can be produced: everything depends upon his manifesting or concealing his power. Do we always look up to him both for our inner life and our outward service with the respectful dependence which is fitting? Do we not too often run before his call and act independently of his aid? Let us humble ourselves this evening for past neglects, and now entreat the heavenly dew to rest upon us, the sacred oil to anoint us, the celestial flame to burn within us. The Holy Ghost is no temporary gift, he abides with the saints. We have but to seek him aright, and he will be found of us. He is jealous, but he is pitiful (compassionate); if he leaves in anger, he returns in mercy. Condescending and tender, he does not weary of us, but awaits to be gracious still.

Sin has been hammering my heart

Unto a hardness, void of love,

Let supplying grace to cross his art

Drop from above.

Max Lucado on the Holy Spirit - From the Inside Out September 11

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. JOHN 14:16–17

Do-it-yourself Christianity is not much encouragement to the done-in and worn-out.

Self-sanctification holds little hope for the addict.…

At some point we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this journey home we realize that a fifty-fifty proposition is too little. We need more.…

We need help. Help from the inside out.… Not near us. Not above us. Not around us. But in us. In the part of us we don’t even know. In the heart no one else has seen. In the hidden recesses of our being dwells, not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God.

(When God Whispers Your Name)((Grace for the moment: inspirational thoughts for each day of the year)


Frank Bottome, 1823–1894

O spread the tidings ’round,

wherever man is found,

wherever human hearts and human woes abound;

let ev’ry Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:

The Comforter has come!

The long, long night is past;

the morning breaks at last,

and hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,

as o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!

The Comforter has come!

O boundless love divine! How shall this tongue of mine to wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—that I, a child of hell, should in His image shine! The Comforter has come!


The Comforter has come,

the Comforter has come!

The Holy Ghost from heav’n—

the Father’s promise giv’n;

O spread the tidings round,

wherever man is found—

The Comforter has come!