Baptism in the Spirit: Our Comfort (A reflection by Fr. Ogoe, based on Luke 3:16/ Isaiah 40:1-2)


The prophets of old foretold the coming of the Messiah. It was a long wait. Finally, the Word became flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary (cf. John 1:14). The birth of Christ signified the fulfillment of the prophecies of old concerning the Messiah. But Jesus himself had to wait for thirty years before he could lay claim to the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-3, which says: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; 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; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion — to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified” (cf. Luke 4:16-21). It was at Jesus’ Baptism by John at the Jordan that he was “formally” anointed by the Holy Spirit and became the Messiah, the Anointed One. Jesus’ messianic ministry was dependent on the Spirit’s anointing.  For Jesus, therefore, the baptism at the Jordan was a turning point. And as we shall soon find out, the Baptism of Jesus marks a turning point for us too who believe in him. At the Jordan

In Luke 3:16 John the Baptist reminds his hearers that when the Messiah comes, he will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire: “John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” But Jesus would baptize those who believe in him with the Holy Spirit and with fire only after he himself had been baptized in the Spirit. His own baptism in the Spirit, as it were, “qualified” him to become the “Baptizer-in-the Spirit.” Faithful to his word, the Spirit of God came mightily upon Jesus at the Jordan and completely anointed Jesus for ministry. Once his own mission was “complete,” Jesus, now “the Baptizer-in-the Spirit,” assured his disciples: “for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:5). In other words, Jesus meant to say: “. . . before many days I shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The prophets saw the days of the Messiah to be the source of comfort for the Lord’s people. We see a clear example in Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11. For our purposes let us look at Isaiah 40:1-2, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” The Anointed One was expected to bring comfort to the People of God. It is the kind of comfort which only God can give. He was to declare a year of favor for all who believed in God. Now we know that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete, a name which can be translated to mean Encourager, Consoler, Counselor, and Advocate: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always” (John 14:16). Here, Advocate can also mean Comforter, the one who comes to our side to aid us. Jesus does not apply the name Comforter to himself, but we know he is a Paraclete. When he refers to the Holy Spirit as another Paraclete (Comforter), he implies that he himself is the other Paraclete (Comforter). 1John 2:1 refers to Jesus as our “advocate with the Father”. So we have two Paracletes (Comforters): Christ and the Holy Spirit. What is interesting is that Isaiah 40:1-2 looks to the future coming of the messiah as a time when the People of God shall be comforted. We are assured, therefore, that the comfort shall spring from the anointing of Jesus at the Jordan. Jesus’ baptism in the Spirit is the event which constitutes him as Comforter of God’s People. Supernatural comfort is associated in a unique way with Baptism in the Spirit.

By virtue of our own baptism in the Spirit we become beneficiaries of divine supernatural comfort. When the Lord baptizes us in the Spirit, we are guaranteed the unfailing comfort of his Spirit. Because of the Spirit’s anointing, whoever believes in the Lord shall be comforted. We are referring, not to any human comfort, but supernatural comfort of the Lord made available to believers. The comfort of the Lord heals; it soothes and renew. There shall be times of persecution, affliction, difficulty and pain. But because we have the Anointing from above (cf. 1John 2:27), no believer walks alone. Faithful to his promises, the Lord shall comfort him and renew his strength. As St. Paul writes, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2Cor 4:8-9); and Luke adds that “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied” (Acts 9:31). No one can stop the anointed of God. They may be pressed and persecuted; they may be punished; they may be tormented by all kinds of afflictions (disease and sickness, rejection and depression, and so forth); they may be even killed, but the comfort of the Lord is their strength. There is comfort and strength in the anointing of the Spirit. Just as Jesus was afflicted but prevailed over the forces of evil, so shall the anointed People of God prevail over every affliction that comes their way. It is the promise of the Lord to his Church. It is the everlasting inheritance of the children of God. The secret of our strength is the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

As you read this reflection, you may probably be going through some form of trouble. Perhaps, your friend has betrayed you; perhaps your own family has rejected you; perhaps the news from your doctor scares you; perhaps you have seen enough of suffering; or perhaps you feel rejected and alone. Beloved, I want you to know that you are precious to God. After Jesus was baptized in the Spirit, he faced all kinds of trouble. Yet, he prevailed, because the anointing that was upon him was more powerful than all afflictions combined. You are the anointed of God. You are dear to God. You are not alone. Gather yourself and open yourself to the comfort of the Spirit. Invoke the Holy Spirit right now. Call him to come visit you with his comfort. May the Lord quicken his anointing upon you. May you begin to experience the presence of his Spirit. May he fill you with joy, healing, new life and strength. May he dispel fear, despair and anxiety from your heart this very moment. May he set you free from the oppression of the Enemy! Be comforted from on high. Be comforted! Be comforted! Be comforted! Amen!

Invitation to Pray:

Dear Jesus, I believe that you are the Messiah. Set me free from my sins. Baptize me in the Spirit. Let your Spirit comfort me all days of my life. Let my faith in you never fail. Amen.









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