Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
The dictionary renders this definition for the word vindicate: clear someone of blame or suspicion, show or prove to be right, reasonable, or justified. When writing to Timothy, Paul uses a Greek word with a similar meaning: to render, show or regard as just or innocent, free, justify, be righteous.
During Jesus’ lifetime he was often subjected to intense scrutiny. His claim to be not only the Son of God but also God incarnate did not set well with many of the religious leaders of his day. On more than one occasion Jesus was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be God (Matthew 26:65; John 10:33). On another occasion the religious leaders gathered stones to stone him to death for claiming to be God (John 8:59). Jesus was also accused of having a demon and being a Samaritan (the Jews considered Samaritans as half breeds), (John 8:48; 10:20). He was also accused of being a glutton and drunkard (Matthew 11:19).
Furthermore, the Pharisees vilified even the miracles performed by Jesus (Matthew 9:34; 12:24). Even though the religious leaders disparaged his miracles, they could not dismiss them. It was through his words and works that Christ’s divine nature was manifest thus vindicating his claims to be the Son of God. Finally, Jesus was condemned to death for his claims. He was beaten, spat upon, mocked and crucified (Matthew 27:26; Mark 14:64-65). Yet, on the third day following his burial, Jesus exited his borrowed tomb and was later seen by his apostles and over five hundred witnesses (John 20:1-10; 1Corinthians 15:6).
It is obvious from scripture that the Holy Spirit was involved in the vindication of Jesus, as Paul stated in 1 Timothy 3:16. At his birth the angel told Mary that the Holy Sprit would come upon her and the holy thing that was born would be called the Son of God. At his baptism the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus identifying him as God’s beloved Son (John 1:29-34). It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus worked miracles and spoke with authority (Matthew 12:27-28; John 14:10; Acts 10:38). However, the decisive vindication of Christ as the incarnate God came as the result of God raising him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Romans the apostle Paul makes reference to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the resurrection of Christ. He wrote, If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11 ESV) Paul is telling us that the Spirit of God who dwells in us will raise us up in the same manner that Jesus was raised. Paul also wrote to the Roman church that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
Even after Jesus had ascended to heaven the Spirit vindicated him through the signs and wonders performed in his name by his apostles. However, it was his resurrection from the dead that was the decisive piece of evidence that justified Jesus as being who he claimed to be; the incarnate God.
Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Do you believe he is who he claimed to be?
Scriptures for meditation: