Illustrations of the Holy Spirit in Luke

C. H. Darch, Taunton, England

Luke's Gospel presents the Lord Jesus as the perfect Man, therefore it is quite suitable that He is shown as being indwelt by and led by God's Holy Spirit. This lesson is brought before us under certain symbols, of which the first is that of a dove (Luke 3. 21, 22).

When the Lord was baptized, He was last of a large number who were also being baptized, thereby setting us an example of courtesy by giving all others first place. He was ever courteous, because moved by the deepest love. True courtesy is an expression of love. Also He was " praying," giving us a further example that, though He were the Son of God He manifested His dependence as perfect man by prayer. God then opened the heaven, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit was received for the great special work He was about to do. It cannot be said that Christ was ever filled with the Spirit; He was always full, and that which is full cannot be filled. Only the empty vessel can be filled ;   our Lord never was empty, but His anointing was for a special service. The appearance of the Spirit was the likeness of

A Dove.

When He came on Jesus no moral improvement was effected in Him, but when He comes on a believer certain moral qualities should be developed. For instance, the dove is a clean bird ; this teaches us that the Holy Spirit brings a clean life. Then the dove is a gentle bird : no harshness is brought into the believer's life who yields to His power. Thirdly we are told the dove has no gall: no bitterness is found in the life controlled by the Holy Spirit; bitterness comes from sin and the fleshly life. Gentleness, cleansing and no bitterness should be mani­fested in the life of all believers, as it was in the life of the Lord. Again, He is likened to:

Wine.

In Luke 5. 36-39, the Lord tells us of new clothes and new wine. Every one born of God is clothed anew ; his old garment of self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags, is not repaired but set aside entirely, for nothing but a new garment will do. " He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness " (Isa. 61. 10).

Also man must not only be covered but he must be made a new creation. New wine is put into " new" bottles, so the Holy Spirit is not put into the old sinful flesh, but into a new creation. In Acts 2. 13, men mock­ingly and unwittingly spoke the truth when they said " These men are full of new wine."

" No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new ; for he saith, ' The old is better,' " and no man drinking of the old wine of sin, desires the new wine of the Holy Spirit; he believes the. Devil's lie, and says the pleasures of sin which are for a season are better. Those, however, who taste the new wine know that " there is none like it."

A further illustration of the Holy Spirit is that of

 Bread.

In Luke II. 5-13 we have the parable of the three friends, one of which (according to the margin) was out of his way.

Many around us are not only out of the way, they are on the broad road ; lost indeed, on the way to destruction. They need the Bread of Life, which it is our duty to set before them ; yet how often we find ourselves empty and barren, with nothing to give them. Nevertheless just as he was able to go to another friend and get, not merely three loaves, but all that he needed, so let the reader, be he Sunday School teacher or gospel preacher, remember that it is still true that without Christ we can do nothing (John 15. 5). It is when we seek Him He will give us all wc need, indeed as willingly as a father would give bread to his child, so will our Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Now the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost, therefore we need not ask God to give us His Holy Spirit again, but we do need to pray for the " supply of the Spirit " (Phil. 1. 19), also to be " filled with the Spirit " (Eph. 5. 18). Nevertheless it should be remembered that one cannot be filled unless he first be empty. To be empty of self and filled with the Holy Spirit should ever be our aim. God is as willing to fill us with the Spirit as a father is to give bread to his son. This should encourage us to ask.

And, yet again, He is likened to:

A Servant.

In Luke 14. 16-24 is given the parable of the Great Supper which, whilst similar to the Marriage Supper of the king's son in Matt. 22. 1-14, has only a very few points in common with it.

Contrast reveals this beauty in a way not otherwise possible. The Marriage Supper is given by a king, but the Great Supper by a householder. In the first the king sends out servants; in the second, only one Servant is sent. In the former the king sends out three companies of servants three limes ; in the latter, one Servant is sent three times. In the former the servants were ill-treated, some even killed ; but in the latter the Servant was always treated respectfully.

In the former the servants were sent out with a three­fold message. They were to " call " because men slept, to " tell" them because men did not understand, also to " bid " them because men stood in doubt: this is the work of every soul-winner, and he cannot do more.

But the Servant had to command them to " come " ; next to " bring " them, for they were poor, halt, lame and blind; then to " compel" them to come, because men are stubborn and refuse. The servants brought in a man who had not on a wedding garment, but the Servant could say, " It is done as Thou hast commanded."

Who then is this Servant ? Surely none other than the Holy Spirit, who alone has the right to do these things. No mere preacher can compel a sinner to come.

It is a glorious fact that the Holy Spirit of God always stands by the God-sent servant not only to help him proclaim the message but also to bring men to Christ, even in spite of themselves, who still each one (" consent " is not in the original) begins " to make excuse.' What excuses ! All these excuses related to God-given blessings. God gave Adam land to cultivate, beasts of the field to serve him, and a wife to be a helpmeet for him, yet these that were bidden used those very three blessings as excuses. Adam began to excuse himself, Eve followed, then Cain, and today men still follow their lead, using the blessings of God as an excuse instead of a help. Is it any wonder the Lord said " and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away " ?

In the descent of the Spirit on Him as a " Dove," we learn that Christ as anointed becomes our example. In the symbol of the " Wine," the Spirit is our indweller. As " Bread " He is our supplier, and as " Servant " our power. If we are to be used of God in His service we must learn all these lessons and put them into practice. Furthermore, He is likened to a light in the hand of

A Woman.

In Luke 15. 8-10 is found the parable of the lost piece of silver. Again the Lord speaks of the house, showing that it is His Own Redeemed who are in view. Silver is used as an illustration of redemption, half a shekel being the price of redemption of each man in Israel.

There were ten pieces of silver, ten being a number which sets forth the sovereignty of God as well as the responsibility of man.    (The study of Bible numbers is a wonderful study. Eleven speaks of lawlessness; Twelve, administration ; Thirteen, rebellion ; Fourteen, redemp­tion ; Fifteen, new life ; etc.) Therefore it is not without reason that the Lord said there were ten pieces of silver, thereby implying that God was sovereign in redemption, and all of His redeemed must be found.

To do this a woman searches for it till it is found. This the Holy Spirit will do, till the last of the redeemed is brought home.

The figure of a woman is used, because here birth, the new birth, is in view ; she lights a candle and sweeps the house diligently till she finds it.

So today, God in His infinite mercy has His candle­sticks or churches (Rev. chs. 2 and 3) the world over, to light poor sinners home. May we be content to be a broom in His hand to recover some of the lost ones to Himself. " He that winneth souls is wise," and certainly this requires divine wisdom and help. Soul-winning is humbling but not humiliating, and he who would win some must himself be winsome.