Gentle as a dove - 18 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17

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 a magnificent lion or a tiger? If it had to be a bird, surely an eagle or an albatross would have had more impact than a dove?

An answer comes from Isaiah 42:1-4. where God introduces his servant and then promises to place his Spirit on him, sending him out to bring justice to the nations. How will the servant achieve this? Not through power and might, but in purity, gentleness, and humility: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering 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. A hawk doesn’t exactly have the same gentleness about it, does it? Jesus confirms this later in his 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).

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.

Prayer: 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.

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