June 09, 2016

The Holy Spirit as a Dove

Matthew 3:11-17

At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

—  Matthew 3:16

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit first appears in the New Testament as a dove? Wouldn’t it have been more impressive for the Spirit to come like an eagle or a hawk, suggesting power and might?

The answer can be found in Isaiah 42, where God intro­duces and commends his “servant” and then promises to place his Spirit on him, sending him out to bring justice to the nations. How? Not through power and might, but through the servant’s purity, gentleness, and humility: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3).

This prophecy is fulfilled, in part, at Jesus’ baptism when the Holy Spirit descends as a dove, demonstrating that Jesus loves the weak, cares for the suffering, and, above all, offers peace and reconciliation with God. We hear this later in Jesus’ own words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . . . For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). God the Father confirms this mission with his tender words about his beloved Son, with whom he is well pleased.

Through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we know that peace and reconciliation with God the Father comes from knowing Jesus. Walk in that peace today and always.

Holy Spirit, descend as a dove on us today. May your presence bring peace in our lives so that we can share the peace of Jesus with the world. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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