The moment that Jesus was baptised his Father sent the Spirit to remain on him. The Spirit who came to Jesus from the Father is the Spirit of joy in the Father. And so there were moments when the heart of Jesus, the Father’s Son, was full of joy in his Father through the Spirit.
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” (Luke 10. 21-22)
Jesus is the unveiling of God as the circle of love overflowing with joy in the Spirit.
The joyful relating of Father and Son in the joy of the Spirit can only be grasped as Jesus, the living word, comes to us in living encounter as the overflow of God’s joy. Yes, the joy of the Triune God spills over towards us as the Father’s Son encounters us through the Spirit opening up to us the joy of Triune life. In this encounter we do not simply stand at a distance observing the communion of joy we are included so that we share the Father’s joy in the Son and the Son’s joy in the Father by the Spirit.
The God who is love meets all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. But this does not mean that our relationship with God is entirely need-centred?
Jesus wasn’t driven by meeting his own personal needs nor the pressing needs of those around him. He was rather continually turned towards his Father looking at what his Father was doing and responding to him. In Gethsemane he struggled over the Father’s will, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” But he came through, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He totally surrendered to his Father’s will and purpose.
Jesus gives the Spirit to us that we may live in trustful obedience to Abba as dearly loved children. The Spirit cries Abba Father within us and we cry Abba with him. That was the agonising cry that came from Jesus’ heart in Gethsemane as he struggled over doing Abba’s will. Out of that agonising struggle he emerged with firm and quiet resolve to be obedient to Abba even unto death on the cross. We now cry Abba with Jesus as those who are led by the Spirit into a life of trustful obedience to Abba.
We may slip into thinking that Jesus gives the Spirit simply to meet our personal needs. The Spirit fills me with peace and joy and makes me really happy. What we need most is for God’s Spirit to take us out of ourselves so that our lives are centred in the Father in union with his Son. In this way, all that we are flows out of loving and joyful response to the Father in the freedom of the Spirit.
God’s Spirit brings Christ to us and us to Christ in living encounter. He unites us to the Father’s Son so that we participate in the Son’s relationship with his Father. It is only by the Spirit that Father and Son become living reality to us. So the Spirit must never be forgotten! Nevertheless, it seems that the Spirit himself wants to be forgotten as the object of our devotion.
The Spirit wants to draw our attention to Christ as the object of our heart devotion. Jesus said,
“He (the Spirit) will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you”.
The Spirit glorifies Christ before the eyes of our hearts. He is actually Christ himself living within us as individual disciples of Christ and among us as the body of Christ. So within his body we gaze on the glory of Christ and are transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory. We are The organic body of Christ that lives and moves by the Spirit of Christ.
As the Spirit of Christ, he also wants to draw our attention to the Father as the object of our heart devotion.
“Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit of the Father’s Son does not draw attention to himself, but rather to Abba. And in Abba’s presence we are aware of his Fatherly nearness to us and our dearness to him as Father.
Truly, we are not to forget the Spirit, but rather depend fully on him, but in his fullness we are full of Father and Son as the objects of our heart devotion.
No one has ever seen God,
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made him plain as day
(John 1: 18 The Message).
To see the Son is to see the Father. If we try to look at the Father without looking through the Son we are no longer looking at the Father. We are simply projecting our own image of the divine being onto the one we are calling Father.
Our imaginary “divine being” is simply the first cause that was needed to get everything started. The intelligent designer required to account for purpose and order in the world. A mere concept – abstract, remote and anonymous in splendid isolation. Our imaginary “divine being” is also likely to be the God of religion whose “otherness” fills people with dread. The Supreme Judge whose prime concern is that everyone be declared legally right in his court of law. The contract God who says do this right and only then will I bless.
We need to stress over and over again that we only see who the Father really is when we keep our eyes on his Son! Then we see the Father drawing near to relate rather than remote. We see him among us in lowliness rather than exalted in splendid isolation. We see him as love wanting to relate rather than the legal God who just wants everything to be declared upright.
Seeing the Father through his Son we are drawn into love relationship with him as dearly loved children with Jesus, the beloved Son. And by the Spirit of the Son we cry, Abba Father!