If Jesus Worked Miracles by His Divine Power, then He Cheated and I Can’t Follow His Example

Apostle’s Creed Series John 3:34

34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.[1]

My parents raised us 3 boys in a very conservative Baptist church where all the pastoral staff had graduated from Bob Jones University.

My parents were very impressed by the faith and life of these ministers. To be fair, they lived very godly lives and they were my heroes. I still remember them with great respect and I appreciate what they taught me. All of them lived up to their own convictions. They are good men.

But as teenagers we were under a lot of pressure to measure up. The disciplines of godliness they required seemed too high.

I knew I was blessed to have such caring parents that demanded so much, but my brothers and I were not super human. Sometimes these high expectations only served to discourage me. It made me feel like something was wrong with my faith.

Of course it was a Baptist church, so there was always one more verse of Just as I Am for me to walk that isle one more time.  =)

Our youth minister would constantly tell us to be like Jesus. I always wondered if that was even possible. Jesus was born of a virgin without sin. According to Psalm 51:5 I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Jesus and I were very different.

Was it fair to set up the life of Jesus as my standard for living?

How could I live like the Son of God? Jesus shared in His person the same nature of deity as the Father and Holy Spirit. His humanity was not stained by Adam’s sin. How was I supposed to live like Jesus?

It’s one thing to tell me to be like my older brother, but to tell me to be like Superman is unfair. Wasn’t Jesus Superman?

Doesn’t His perfect obedience to the will of the Father, His always winning over Satan’s temptations, His ability to pray all night and His miracle working power prove He should NOT be my example?

These were my questions as a thinking teenager. It’s like the whole system was rigged to make me feel like a failure.

The story of Jesus’ unfair advantage starts in Luke 1:35. We also confess this in our Apostle’s Creed. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

Jesus was born holy. God was His Father. My parents were Bob and Betty Locke of Roswell, Georgia. There was no way I was going to be as holy as Jesus.

But God doesn’t tell us about the Virgin Birth to discourage us. It’s meant to encourage us for it begins to tell the secret to Jesus’ power.

One of the lessons from the Virgin Birth is that Jesus was dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit for His earthly life. But that’s only the beginning of the dependent relationship Jesus has with the Spirit. Jesus lived His whole life by the Holy Spirit. This truth is both amazing and shocking.

Jesus didn’t come to live like a God or Super-Human. Jesus came to live like a human so that He might die for humanity. To gain this close association with humanity, Jesus had to live just like us. Jesus had to STOP using ALL His divine power that His life experiences might be just like our life experiences. His only power to perform the Kingdom work of Messiah was from the abiding Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that Jesus has sent to us!

Our passage for the sermon is John 3:34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Holy Spirit was the power for ALL His supernatural powers, yet without measure, meaning without limit.

This was also taught in the Old Testament. Psalm 45:6-7 teaches that the anointing of Jesus would be greater than all others. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

This unique connection between the Holy Spirit and the life of Christ started at His incarnation and stayed with Him His entire life. He was filled with the Spirit of God to do the work of God. Jesus didn’t glorify God by His own Super-Human strength, but by the power of the Spirit.

So, if Jesus glorified God by the power of the Holy Spirit, then we can glorify God by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is where you should start to feel encouraged and inspired!

If we falsely think that Jesus pleased God by His own innate Divine power, then we would be correct to reject lifting Him up as our role model. Jesus would have cheated. But, if Jesus fully abandoned the personal use of all His divine power (Philippians 2:6-7), and then only used supernatural power which was supplied by the Spirit’s anointing, then Jesus should be our role model!

Let me be even more direct. Preachers frequently use the miracles by Jesus as proof that He was divine. That is a mistake.

  • Jesus did not walked on the water using His divine power. He walked on the water by the power of the Spirit.
  • Jesus didn’t know the scriptures because He was the eternal Word. Jesus knew the scriptures by hard study and the anointing of the Spirit.
  • Jesus didn’t raise people from the dead by His Divine power. Every miracle Jesus performed was by the power of the Spirit of God.
  • In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus did not let His humanity slip out by praying, “Not my will but Thine.” Every moment of every day in the life of Christ was His Humanity showing. The supernatural blips were the result of the Spirit’s anointing.

John 8:28c Jesus said . . . I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

John 14:10b Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

Notice that the people living during the time of Jesus almost never thought His powers proved He was Divine. In Matthew 21:23 the crowds asked Jesus, By what authority are you doing these things? They knew a supernatural spirit could enable a man to do the things Jesus did. They were curious if it was God’s Holy Spirit and if Jesus was doing this by God’s authority.

Also notice that the miracles did not overly impress the religious leaders. They had seen all this before. Prophets of God had parted the waters, raised the dead, healed the sick, and told of future events. The Spirit of God upon the Old Testament saints enabled them to do mighty things for God’s glory.

And Jesus was doing all His miracles the Old Testament way. Jesus relied on the Spirit’s power. New Testament saints anointed by God’s Spirit also did these sorts of Divine miracles.

The difference between the powers of Moses or Elijah and the powers of Jesus is that He was not given the Spirit by measure. Each of us are given a spiritual gift or two. Jesus was given the Spirit without measure. What does that mean? Well, imagine every Old Testament spiritual gift and every New Testament spiritual gift, every fruit of the Spirit and every grace of God upon the life; now imagine them all upon Jesus in their maximum capacity. That’s what we see in the Gospels.

It was Holy Spirit power upon Jesus to do the work of Messiah. This was predicted in the Old Testament.

Isaiah 11:1-3. And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD.

How did you think Jesus got His power, wisdom, knowledge or disciplined godliness? Jesus grew in all these things just like we grow in all these things.

Can the Spirit of God do the same for us? This is where it gets exciting!

In the New Testament the Spirit of God came upon the disciples to help them remember the utterances of Jesus. The Spirit helps us remember God’s word too. 1 Corinthians chapter two speaks directly to this promise.

The Spirit also promises to anoint you for your work. Luke 3:21-23 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.

Jesus didn’t get His Messianic mindset at His baptism. From His birth He knew who He was and what He came to do. But, the baptism of Jesus did ordain him into His ministerial responsibilities. Only a priest could anoint another man into the priesthood. Jesus was anointed by the priest John the Baptist at the correct age of 30 to begin His Messianic duties.

What’s the promise? The Holy Spirit comes to bestow upon us our spiritual gifts for our Christian duty. 1 Corinthians 12 lists the spiritual gifts given to us when we are baptized by the Spirit into Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

The Spirit of God also helps us overcome temptation. Luke 4:1. And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Jesus was tempted by the Devil for 40 days. How did Jesus overcome direct Satanic temptation? Was the whole wilderness temptation a fake test or did Jesus actually have to struggle like we do? Answer? Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit to help Him remember the written word of God to fight off temptation. The Father and the Son now send us the same Spirit to help us in the same way.

Another example comes out of Luke 4:14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. Even though Jesus was exhausted and hungry, He made it through His day by the Spirit’s power. How many Mondays could we be sustained by the Spirit, rather than that extra cup of coffee?

For those of you still wondering if what I am explaining is right, listen to the words of Jesus Himself. Jesus said Luke 4:16-21 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

This is from Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Jesus lived His life by the same power He makes available to us. It would be blaspheme to say Jesus isn’t our example. Jesus didn’t cheat by living like a Superman. Jesus lived like a normal man who is filled by the Holy Spirit of God.

This truth is surprising to many Christians, but it is an old truth stated for us in the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 8 and paragraph 3.

The Lord Jesus in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure; having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell: to the end that being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety.

Is this making sense? The same Spirit that enabled Jesus to do God’s will is sent to us to do God’s will. We should not be discouraged if a Bob Jones University pastor sets high standards. We should not be discouraged if our parents expect more than we can deliver. The Father expected more from Jesus than Jesus could deliver within His humanity alone. So Jesus showed us all how to live by living every day dependent on the enabling Holy Spirit.

The secret is to hate sin and love God. The Spirit’s power is unleashed as we learn to love God.

1 Corinthians 2:10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God..

There actually was one time when Jesus stopped acting as a mere man. There was only one time that Jesus stopped being found in fashion as a man. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus opened up the windows of His flesh to show His divine attributes independent of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In that one brief event we see the Son of God in His own glory. Every other story in the Gospels is our example for being truly alive.

Let me give it to you one last time. Jesus was fully God yet lived as a common man who was dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit. He is our example. It is not unfair to lift Jesus up as our model for Christian living. He can show us how to glorify the Father as mere mortals. He shows us how to live holy, even as the Father in heaven is holy.

Let us look to Jesus.

There is a follow up to this sermon which is also very helpful

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


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