I’ve been going through the New Testament studying the information presented about the Holy Spirit. In this post, I’m examining what is often called the Lukan Infancy Narratives, because chapters 1-2 of Luke cover events just before and during the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.
I’m only going to cover these two chapters because there is something interesting (and perhaps new to the Gospels) in these two chapters. In Matthew and Mark, we primarily read about the work of the Holy Spirit in and around the life of Jesus Christ. Those Gospels also promise an ongoing work of the Spirit through Jesus’ followers. However, Matthew and Mark are almost silent concerning the work of the Spirit outside the life of Jesus.
But, in Luke 1-2, Luke often mentions the work of the Holy Spirit in other people besides Jesus and his followers. An angel prophesies to Zechariah that his son (John the Baptist) would be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15). The angel also tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will “come upon her” in the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:35). The, when she meets Mary, Elizabeth (Zechariah’s wife) is filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).
After the birth of John, his father Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and begins prophesying both about John and about Jesus (Luke 1:67). After the birth of Jesus, Luke introduces us to a man named Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before his death, and while the Spirit was “upon him,” the Spirit led him into the temple where he say Jesus and his parents (Luke 2:25-27).
While we see language like this (concerning the Spirit) about followers of Jesus in the epistles and while we use language like this regularly today, we did not see the Holy Spirit filling or coming upon or leading anyone but Jesus (and the promise to his followers) in Matthew and Mark.
Again, Luke does not tell us how Simeon knew that the Holy Spirit was leading him into the temple, or what it meant specifically to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” or for the Holy Spirit to “come upon” someone, we do see that this happened around the events of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.