Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2013

Today’s text

John 1:29-33

The next day, he saw Jesus coming towards him and said, 'Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. t was of him that I said, "Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me because he existed before me." I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptize with water was so that he might be revealed to Israel.' And John declared, 'I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven and rest on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit."


For years this baptism of the Holy Spirit was a mystery to me, and to some extent it always will be. In my mind, Pentecostal Christians had cornered the market on this language.

For them, this baptism looked like the Day of Pentecost, people speaking in different languages, exuberant displays of unexplainable supernatural gifts of healing and interpretation, highly emotional expressions of prayer and praise, fire and brimstone.

As a teen, my Illinois village had a storefront church for a short time. Sometimes I dropped in their mid-week prayer meeting where I was repeatedly told that if I didn’t speak in tongues or show some sign of baptism in the Spirit, “you will burn.” The fires of Hell were being stoked for people like me.

But Jesus didn’t speak in tongues. He certainly healed, but I don’t think this is the heart of what it means to be baptized in the Spirit, as Jesus was.

And it is a matter of heart.

We cannot know the secrets of Jesus’ inner life, but we do know he shared a deep and abiding intimacy with the heavenly Father. They abided together in his heart as one, a loving unity which was the source of Jesus compassion and wisdom, his peace and his power.

We know he retreated into solitude to savor this unity that likely required no words. The fact that his disciples asked to be taught a prayer probably means they had not--or only seldom-- heard him pray aloud.

Perhaps Jesus prayer was this quiet awareness of the Father’s abiding in his depths.

Baptism in the Spirit is immersion into this unity that Jesus shared with the heavenly father.

It is the gift of this deep and intense relationship of mutual love with the Father in which his heart transforms our hearts, so that his will and ours are one, a unity of loving and passionate purpose.

This is a gift not once given but is sought daily. We entered it again and again in open-hearted prayer and live it out in the mundane details of the day.

Pr. David L. Miller

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