“Fullness of the Spirit”
The forty-day temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was a Holy Spirit-initiated event. Let us picture the first verse of Luke chapter four, which begins with the phrase “Jesus full of the Holy Spirit….” The word for fullness in Greek is pleres, which when translated means, “filled up,” “covered in every part,” “complete,” “lacking nothing”. In other words, Jesus was saturated, brimming and overflowing with the Holy Spirit when he walked into the wilderness. This “fullness” was a consequence of his baptism in the river Jordan – an event that captures the mystery and dynamics of the Triune Godhead – the Father in the theophany and the Spirit in the form of a dove descending upon the Son.
Verse one further says, “…and was led in the Spirit….” The Greek word for “led” is ago, meaning “to lead by laying hold of,” “to bring to the point of destination,” “to lead by accompanying to a place,” “to lead, guide, direct,” etc. Luke, the writer, emphasizes that the journey to the wilderness was a sacred event. Jesus did not, only out of his own volition, embrace a forty-day period of fasting. He did not find himself in the wilderness, a deserted and lonely place, by chance or by accident.
To think of withdrawing ourselves in a lonely and deserted place seems an impossible thought in our world today. Our lives are strongly attached to our families, our jobs, and professions. Oddly enough, we are even more attached to our smartphones, tablets, and computers. The very thought of detaching and withdrawing from these and other distractions seems impractical. It is during the Lenten period that we can reflect on the nature of our attachment to everything around us and the depth of our attachment to God.
This year’s Lenten season comes amid the ongoing global health crisis. In the last one year, most of us have gone through extended periods of physical and emotional detachment from our social and professional circles. Yet these withdrawals into solitude have been a forced necessity. Isolation has compelled us to redraw our priorities – that while we may have spent decades in gathering material abundance, we may have been lacking the fullness of the Spirit. If we confess this poverty in our lives (please refer to Lenten devotion number 31), it can open the possibility of the Spirit’s fullness to be poured in our empty and hollow beings and assure us of God’s leading in our “wilderness journeys.”
Brother Lawrence in his letters in “The Practice of the Presence of God” writes:
“We must hinder our spirits wandering from Him on all occasions. We must make our heart a spiritual temple so we can constantly adore Him. We must continually watch over ourselves so we do not do anything that may displease Him. When our minds and hearts are filled with God, suffering becomes full of unction and consolation.”
Rev. Abhishek John