Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
In today’s reading we find Jesus described as returning to Galilee “filled with the power of the (Holy) Spirit”. We find several instances where people in the Bible are referred to as being “filled with the Holy Spirit” or “full of the Holy Spirit”. How can we be filled with the Spirit? We get clues from John the Baptist who spoke about decreasing so that Jesus could increase (see John 3:30), and Paul who spoke about dying so that Christ could live (Galatians 2:20).
Let me put it very simply. Imagine you have a box filled with candy. You decide one day that candy is not good for you, and you’d rather eat biscuits. In order to fill the box with biscuits, you need to take out the candy. The more candy you take out, the more space you create for biscuits. So if you want the box filled with biscuits, you take out all the candy. It’s the same thing with our lives. If we want to be full of the Holy Spirit, take away everything that is not from him.
An illustration might help explain how this works. Let’s imagine I have two cups here with me. One if filled with water. The other is empty. Imagine the water in this cup is sin. That’s why my life resembled before I came to Christ seventeen years ago: filled with sin. When I came to Christ, I repented for my sins. Among them included repentance for an addiction to porn, illicit relationships, and pirated movies.
After I made a confession, I heard this voice in my head (I would realize later it was the Holy Spirit) telling me it was good I repented, but to show I really meant it by destroying all the rubbish I had at home that were the fruit of my sin. So I went home and I trashed everything I had. In doing this, I emptied my life of sin, making room for the Holy Spirit to come in and do his work. And what does he do? Reveals more sin.
I fix that too. And every time I empty some stuff out, I make more room for the Holy Spirit to come in. And, eventually, if you just keep this up, you end up full of the Holy Spirit. The key is simply obedience. God tells you to do something, you do it. Obey, you grow. Disobey, you don’t. It’s a brainless exercise really. All it takes is the desire to do what God wants. Try it and see.
And then watch what happens.