Isaiah 11:2 “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”
The Holy Spirit specially equipped and accompanied Jesus for his work of saving us. Three of the extraordinary powers Jesus possessed have to do with his thinking processes. He had a Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, and of knowledge. Some of what we know, how we understand things, and the wisdom to apply it we can get from books. Some we get from the school of experience. But there is also a wisdom that only the Spirit of God can teach us.
This is the wisdom that doesn’t sugar coat the human condition. It isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade, to acknowledge the way things really are, to diagnose the human dilemma in all its utter hopelessness. This is the wisdom that says “every inclination of man’s heart is evil.” “There is no one who does good, not even one.” “No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law.”
And isn’t that just the wisdom that earned Jesus so many passionate enemies? The religious leadership of his day didn’t hate him because he taught a different 10 commandments, but because he refused to let them live in their delusion that they were keeping the ones that he and they agreed on. Jesus blew them away by suggesting that they weren’t good enough to save themselves.
Are we in any position to think that we are wiser than Jesus thousands of years later? Has the human race really become so much kinder and better and purer and more generous? Haven’t our sins and imperfections in many ways become magnified over the past couple of thousand years?
Jesus’ wisdom shows us how desperately we need a Savior, and how gracious God has been to send the Savior we need. He doesn’t hold out the perpetual uncertainty of self-improvement. “Have I ever done enough?” He holds out the certainty of a perfect substitute. Christ has done it all! His own words promise, “whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
And don’t judge this book by its cover. He may have a humble background, but the Lord poured out on him a “Spirit of counsel and of power.” No matter how long you look at the manger at Christmas, your eyes will see only a helpless baby lying there. Yet that little baby had the power to turn shepherds into preachers. No matter how long you stare at the grown man, no longer an infant resting in a manger, but suspended from a cross of wood, you will see only the battered body of a dying man. Yet that death has the power to turn sinners into saints and lifeless corpses into immortal creatures of heaven.
Our world has never known another power like this one. Sometimes we fear power, because power is so often abused. But we can trust this new king in David’s royal line because he wields it in “the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Jesus was not afraid of his heavenly Father. He is simply the only one who has ever treated him with the full respect and honor he deserves. Only he has lined up every moment, every feature, every purpose of his life with the will of our Father in heaven. And Jesus reveals that the will of the Father is simply this: “that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
The fear of the Lord brings us full circle to the first of the gifts the Spirit poured out on Jesus. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). May faith in this Spirit-filled Savior fill us with the same Spirit-born gifts!