Bible Question:

Did Jesus receive the Holy Spirit at the time of His baptism by John the Baptist? In Mel Gibson's movie “The Passion of the Christ”, we see a dove hovering over Jesus when He is dying on the cross. I am wondering if that is the Holy Spirit leaving Jesus at the time of His death. Thanks.

Bible Answer:

The Apostle Matthew says that during Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus and appeared “as a dove.”

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (NASB) Matthew 3:13-17

Did the Holy Spirit take the shape and form of a dove? The answer is no, because Matthew says, “as a dove.” The Holy Spirit descended and in some way looked like a dove.

It appears that Mel Gibson used the imagery of a dove to represent the Holy Spirit in his movie. Why did Gibson have the dove hover over Jesus at the time of His death on the cross? Neither the gospel writers nor any of the apostles say anything about the Holy Spirit leaving Jesus at the time of His death. There is no statement in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit left Jesus at His death. The Bible does not say this about the Holy Spirit at the time of Jesus’ death.


The Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 9:14 that He helped Jesus offer Himself as a sacrifice on the Cross. That passage tells us that the Holy Spirit was present with Him during His death. Mel Gibson’s movie was not biblically accurate. You may also be interested in another question about Mel Gibson’s movie which is called “Why are so many Christians taken with Mel Gibson’s movie?