I was watching a movie about Jesus which made me think about His humanity. I know that He certainly knew who He was from an early age (12 years old when He was in the Temple talking to the teachers). So I was looking for an answer to a thought that I had. When Jesus was baptized, God sent His Holy Spirit and said: “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Then Jesus went to the desert to be tempted and the Bible says, “He was full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). My question is, “Did Jesus have the Holy Spirit in Him before He was baptized, or did He receive the Spirit only in that moment?” The mystery of the Trinity is amazing because also He had to go to the Heaven after He rose from the death and only then could He send the Holy Spirit to the disciples.
Scripture does not give us enough information to positively answer your question, “Was Jesus already filled with the Holy Spirit at His baptism?” Yet the gospel of Luke tells us that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. (NASB) Luke 1:15
Old Testament Filling. Was John the Baptist filled with the Holy Spirit all the time? Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit never lived inside a person all the time – continuously. The Holy Spirit did not remain permanently in a person until the New Testament. That is why Jesus said He was going to send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Something new was going to occur. Saul is one example where the Holy Spirit did not remain (1 Sam. 10:6; 16:14) and King David is another. In fact, King David feared the Lord would take the Holy Spirit from him (Ps. 51:11). Today, the Holy Spirit lives inside a Christian forever. This is implied in the great promise of God (Heb. 8:7-13).
When the Holy Spirit came upon, not in, an Old Testament saint the manifestations or miracles of the Spirit did not always occur. When Samson grew up the “Spirit of the LORD began to stir him” (Judges 13:24-25). It is not until later occasions that the “Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily” (Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14). The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of Old Testament saints did not mean they performed wonders or miracles. So the Holy Spirit could have “come on” John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah – Jesus Christ – at birth and yet the Spirit may not have remained. It is also possible the power of the Spirit did not occur until he was an adult.
If the Holy Spirit “came on” John the Baptist at birth, the Holy Spirit could have come “on” Jesus at birth. But we do not know if that happened since the New Testament does not explicit say so. None of the gospels explicitly say that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit before His baptism.
Filled At His Baptism. “Did Jesus do miracles by His own power as God or did He depend on the Holy Spirit?” The Old Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit was to rest on Jesus during His ministry on this earth.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (NASB) Isa. 11:2
At this point we could ask, “Why did the Holy Spirit need to rest on Him if He was God?” The answer is found in Philippians 2:7 where we are told that Jesus did not come to earth in His divine glory (Matt. 17:1-5). He did not come knowing everything (Matt. 24:36). In fact, He came as a human baby who had to physically and intellectually grow and increase in wisdom.
The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (NASB) Luke 2:40
Jesus was both God and human. But in order to experience life as a human, Jesus limited the free use of His divine powers or prerogatives. This is the message of Philippians 2:5-8. He also chose to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit for His ministry. In Luke, Jesus seems to imply that He needed the Holy Spirit to do miracles.
One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. (NASB) Luke 5:17
Living By The Holy Spirit. Other scriptures reveal that Jesus depended on the power of the Holy Spirit in His ministry The table below shows that Jesus did miracle after miracle by the power of the Spirit. He even died and returned to life by the power of the Spirit.
|Spirit’s Ministry to Jesus||Passage|
|Born by the Holy Spirit||Matt. 1:18|
|Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at His baptism.||Luke 3:22|
|Led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted||Luke 4:1|
|Returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit||Luke 4:14|
|“The Spirit of the Lord is upon ME . . .”||Luke 4:18|
|He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit.||Luke 10:21|
|Ministry performed in the power of the Spirit||Acts 2:22|
|Anointed with the Holy Spirit||Acts 10:38|
|Offered Himself – died – by the Spirit.||Heb. 9:14|
|Return to life by the Holy Spirit||1 Pet. 3:18|
He depended on the Holy Spirit to perform His ministry. Just as Jesus did in His humanity, God expects us to depend on the Holy Spirit for the power in our ministry.
Even though scripture does not say the Holy Spirit was upon Jesus before His baptism, it seems that was true. The gospel writers make it clear that Jesus did miracle after miracle by the Holy Spirit. He died by the Spirit and returned to life by the Spirit. Jesus is an example to us that we too should live by the power of the Holy Spirit. That power comes by being filled with His Spirit and by walking in His Spirit. That is the key to power in the Christian life.
Reference Links:Filled With The Spirit
Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit