It was said of John the Baptist that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth (Luke 1:15), and the Scriptures tell us that, after Jesus was baptized and returned from the Jordan, he was full of the Holy Spirit and continually led by the Spirit in the wilderness (Luke 4:1). Does this mean that Jesus wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit from birth as John had been or that his filling was any different from that of John? I don’t think so, and the Scriptures don’t conclude that Jesus didn’t have the Spirit of God before his baptism, but was anointed with the Spirit at that time. Any difference one might see between the filling of Jesus and John should be defined by the capacity of the vessel to receive the Spirit (cf.1Kings 8:11; John 3:34).
What Luke tells us is that after Jesus was baptized the heavens opened at his prayer and the Holy Spirit descended and remained upon him (Luke 3:21-22). Actually, the prophet, Isaiah, who was filled with the Spirit of God (Isaiah 61:1), once lamented: “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down…” (Isaiah 64:1). Imagine, Jesus prayed and the heavens were torn open, and remained open to anoint Jesus with the Spirit of God. The Scriptures don’t claim Jesus was at that time filled, but he was at that time anointed as the Prophet that should come (Deuteronomy 18:15-18; John 6:15)!
Jesus was always filled with the Spirit as Luke seems to show us in Luke 2:46-47. His answer to his parents in Luke 2:49 reveals his awareness of his own calling, but they didn’t really understand. His place was to grow up in the Temple, just as Samuel, the prophet, had done, because neither Samuel nor Jesus were redeemed by their parents after they were born. Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary offered the sacrifice for her purification (Luke 2:21-24), but Jesus was not redeemed with a sacrifice and, therefore, remained the Lord’s – i.e. a priest, just as Samuel was dedicated to the Lord as the firstborn son of Hanna and not redeemed. Both Jesus and Samuel by virtue of their being unredeemed firstborn sons of their mothers were or should have been considered priests to God.
One of the first things Jesus did, after being anointed by God for his office, was to present himself to his own people at Nazareth as their Messiah, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:18-21) and in doing so he showed he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14). Jesus showed himself ready for the task. When he first came to Jerusalem with his parents at age 12, he was ready to assume his role serving at the Temple, just as Samuel had done, but Jesus’ parents didn’t understand. When he was anointed by God for the office of Messiah, Jesus was ready and announced what had taken place to those who knew him best, but they rejected him.
Being filled with the Spirit of God does not mean one would be understood, even by good people who ordinarily obeyed God. Moreover, God’s anointing does not guarantee acceptance by the leadership of the community. The leaders of the Jews opposed both Jesus’ and John’s ministries, and succeeded in removing both of them from the community at large, except Jesus’ followers were successful in taking Jesus’ message to the Jews and to the rest of the world after his death and resurrection.
Actually, being filled with the Spirit seems to be in juxtaposition with opposition to the one God has sent. The one who is filled is placed alongside those who are not filled with the Spirit of God, and the inevitable clash between the two is as expected as the resultant explosion that must occur when one combines fire and gunpowder. Jesus was quick in his understanding of the Scriptures (Isaiah 11:1-3), but how well would that understanding be received by those who received traditions that opposed the word of God (cf. Mark 7:10-13)? Jesus showed himself to be the protector of the poor (Isaiah 11:4), but how would this be viewed by those who took advantage of the poor (cf. Matthew 23:14).
Being filled with the Spirit inevitably invites opposition from those who are not filled. One simply cannot preach the good news of God’s forgiveness for those who are greatly distressed over their captivity (addiction) to sin, whose lives are broken and held captive by their ignorance (blindness), crushed under the heavy burden of life (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-11) without facing opposition from those not led by God (Luke 4:22, 28-29).