“The whole of our nature is present in Christ, insofar as he is human.” – St. Cyril of Jerusalem
What could it mean that Christ receives the Spirit at his baptism? I love St. Cyril’s explanation of this event:
The only begotten Son receives the Spirit, but not for his own advantage, for the Spirit is his, and is given in him and through him… He receives it to renew our nature in its entirety and to make it whole again, for in becoming human, he took our entire nature to himself.
So Christ receives the Spirit at his baptism because this is what the Father will do for all of us as his adopted children. Christ undergoes all that we undergo, because he has joined himself to us in our human nature.
And this is because salvation is more than just an abstract mark on a heavenly ledger sheet. The gift of the Spirit is salvation! It is the abiding presence of God in our midst, now touching our human nature in a way God could not until God became human and bore our sin in the body of Christ, and conquered the principalities and powers on the cross.
And so after his resurrection, Jesus breathes on his disciples (very sacramental of him, by the way!) and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And they do! And we do as well, because Christ did. Praise be to God for his most precious gift.