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The Holy Spirit and the Ministries of Jesus

We may well ask, What was the source of Jesus’ outstanding healing and authority? The religious leaders, especially the Pharisees (who opposed Jesus because he performed healings on the Sabbath, formed friendships with sinners and tax collectors, and was successful in his ministry), accused Jesus of setting people free from demons through Beelzebub, a chief demon. Here is one example: “Then they brought a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons’” (Matt. 12:22–25).

God heals through ordinary people. – Peter Ostrander

Based on their monotheistic religion, Jewish religious leaders would have denied the existence and powers of multiple personal centers in the godhead which were doing the healing. They would rather attribute these healings to evil forces. Jesus immediately showed the illogic of their position. A seriously divided kingdom or family cannot stand. Therefore, if demons are being cast out by another demon, even if that demon is Satan, the kingdom of evil will collapse. But Jesus gives the true alternative: “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom (reign) of God has come upon you” (Mark 12:28). According to Luke, Jesus explains what is really happening: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils” (Luke 11:21–22). Jesus has been despoiling the kingdom of evil. Then Jesus warns these officials that to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit of God by attributing Jesus’ works to evil is to commit an unpardonable sin. In regard to the Christian movement, Gamaliel later says that if such a movement were from man, it would fail, but if from God, even the Jewish council would not be able to stop it. Christians believed that God was indeed at work in Jesus and among them as they followed him.

One of the clearest Scriptures connecting the work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus and healing is found in Acts 10:38 within Peter’s message to Cornelius, a God-fearing centurion, and his other Gentile friends. Peter tells them, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good [works] and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” As Peter goes on to tell them about Jesus’ death and resurrection, his hearers come to faith and the Holy Spirit sovereignly falls upon them. They are baptized and included in this new movement.

Jesus is anointed and empowered for a healing ministry. His ministry also freed people who were under the power and reign of evil in their lives. (This is not to specify what proportion of illnesses, infirmities, or diseases are caused by demons rather than by a host of other factors, which were unknown in the first century.) Though Jesus was a good deed-doer in the best sense, he was nevertheless killed, and then rose on the third day.

The passages discussed so far in this chapter indicate that the Holy Spirit of God had clearly been involved in the life and healing ministry of Jesus, as He will be in our lives. We cannot actually estimate the number of times Jesus’ healings were accomplished through his own divine nature or through the Spirit. In some ways, Jesus may have humbled himself by not doing his mighty works except through the power of the Holy Spirit.

However, in his early encounters with demons that were oppressing or indwelling human beings, the demons defensively asserted that they knew who Jesus really was; namely, the “Holy one of God” (Mark 1:21). His usual tactic, while casting them out, was to silence or muzzle them, keeping them from prematurely identifying him as the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God. Jesus usually called himself ‘the son of man’ as God had addressed Ezekiel (Ezek 7:14) but points to Dan 7:13 at his trial before the Sanhedrin.

Overall, we believe that God was working powerfully in the preaching, teaching, healing, and deliverance ministries of Jesus the Christ, without any hindrances. Though they may have taken different roles at various times, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit worked in perfect harmony to redeem and transform humankind and will create new Heavens and a new Earth. Is it possible for Christians to be caught up in such movements and ministries of God, resulting in a spreading Gospel wave, carried by Spirit-endowed believers?


Part 2 continues in the Spring 2016 issue with “The Holy Spirit and the Ministry of the Disciples”


This chapter is reprinted with permission from New Testament Healing by Peter E. Ostrander (Xulon, 2011).

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2016

About the Author: Peter Ostrander, Ph.D. (Penn State University, 1970), taught physics at Penn State, Fayette for 33 years. In 1973 he made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ and was filled with the Holy Spirit one year later during the charismatic renewal. He pursued studies at Trinity School for Ministry and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1986. For 21 years, he served St. George’s Episcopal Church in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania as their Vicar. Peter grew interested in healing ministry, joined the Order of Saint Luke, and started a chapter South of Pittsburgh. He presented workshops at regional meetings, then retired from Penn State and served 6 years as Director of Region 2, attended national meetings and wrote articles for Sharing Magazine. Because Peter wanted OSL to remain true to the Holy Scriptures and the example of the early Church, he wrote New Testament Healing (Xulon Press, 2011). Peter has also served as a board member for the Healing Center at Shrine Mont and has been active in healing at Servant Song Ministries, a retreat center in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

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