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17 March 2019

Jesus, The Anointed Man of the Spirit

SynopsisAs the Messiah, Jesus was the quintessential man of the Spirit, which he now distributes to his peoplePsalm 2:2.

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash
By Joshua Sortino on Unsplash
The second Psalm is a messianic prophecy about the ideal king of Israel who is to sit on the throne of David. The Psalmist identified him as “Yahweh’s anointed.” He is also called, “My king upon holy Zion,” and, “my son.” His enthronement marks “the day Yahweh has begotten you.” This “anointed one” is Yahweh’s appointed ruler and son:

(Psalm 2:1-9) – “Wherefore have nations assembled in tumult? Or should, peoples, mutter an empty thing? The kings of earth take their station, and, grave men have met by appointment together,—against Yahweh and against his Anointed One [saying]: Let us break asunder their bonds,—and cast from us their cords! He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh,—My Lord will mock at them: Then will he speak unto them in his anger, and, in his wrath, confound them: Yet, I have installed my king,—on Zion my holy mountain. Let me tell of a decree,—Yahweh hath said unto me, My son, thou art, I, to-day, have begotten thee: Ask of me and let me give nations as thine inheritance, and, as thy possession, the ends of the earth: Thou shalt shepherd them with a sceptre of iron,—as a potter’s vessel, shalt thou dash them in pieces.” – (The Emphasized Bible).

The Hebrew verb rendered “anointed” is mashakh, “to smear, daub; to anoint” (Strong’s #4899).  The corresponding English term ‘messiah’ is derived from this word. The Greek noun in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament used for ‘messiah’ is Christos (Strong’s #5547). From it comes the name ‘Christ.’ Both Greek and Hebrew terms denote one who is “anointed.” (Leviticus 4:3Daniel 9:25, Mathew 1:16).

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The substance used under the old system to symbolize anointing was olive oil, which was daubed or smeared on things and persons to set them apart for sacred service. It was this that marked them for royal or priestly service, not anything intrinsic to their nature.

In the Tabernacle, things consecrated for divine service included the altar, the Tent itself, the table of showbread, and various vessels used in sanctuary rituals. All were anointed with oil at the dedication of the Tabernacle. Persons consecrated for ritual service included priests and high priests, (Exodus 29:730:29-3040:13-15).

After the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, kings were anointed at their accession to the throne.  This rite became so closely associated with the king that he was popularly designated “Yahweh’s Anointed” (1 Samuel 12:326:11Psalm 2:245:7).

The prophecy from the second Psalm looks forward to Jesus Christ, God’s “anointed one,” “son,” and king whom He would appoint to reign over all the nations.  The frequent application of this Psalm to Christ by the New Testament establishes him as God’s anointed king and son (Matthew 3:1717:5Acts 4:25-2613:33Hebrews 1:5-6Revelation 2:26-27).

Unlike the kings and priests of Israel, Jesus was anointed with God’s Spirit, not olive oil. This set him apart from all his predecessors. Nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus “anointed” with olive oil for service and officiated by a human mediator (Isaiah 61:1-2, Psalm 45:7, Isaiah 11:1-5, 42:1, 59:21).
All four gospels record how the Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism in the River Jordan. In each account, his anointing was confirmed by a visual effect (“descended like a dove”) and an audible voice from heaven (“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”) - Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32. 

Unique in his case was that Jesus was “anointed” directly by the Spirit of God. While John the Baptist administered water baptism, no human being mediated this Spirit anointing. In the Old Testament, other men were endowed temporarily by God’s Spirit when necessary; with Jesus, the Spirit descended and remained on him. Moreover, he had the fullness of the Spirit, “not by measure,” as with his previous men (John 3:34).

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Following his baptism, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested forty days by the Devil. Luke observes that after defeating Satan, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and there went out a fame of him throughout the region” (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:13-14).

While preaching in a synagogue, Jesus proclaimed, the “Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”  It was the Spirit that equipped him for ministry (Luke 4:18).

Jesus attributed the miracles performed in his ministry to the Spirit of God, not to any special power he possessed. Thus, for example, when accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, he retorted, “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).

This was the understanding of the early church:

(Acts 10:38) - “How God anointed him with Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the adversary, because God, was with him.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
(Romans 1:4) – “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the glad-message of God—Which he promised beforehand, through his prophets, in holy scriptures—Concerning his Son,—who came to be of the seed of David, according to flesh, Who was distinguished as the Son of God—by power, according to a Holy Spirit, through means of a resurrection of the dead,—Jesus Christ our Lord.” – (The Emphasized Bible).

Thus, the Spirit of God was integral to the identity, mission, and goal of the Messiah; it was what identified him and set him apart from all others. But Jesus also became the one who now possesses and dispenses the Spirit to others. He promised his disciples to send them the Spirit after his glorification, which would “bear witness of me”:

(John 7:37-39) – “Now, on the last—the great—day of the feast, Jesus was standing, and he cried aloud, saying—If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink: He that believeth on me—just as said the Scripture,—River, from within him, shall flow of living water. Now, this spake he concerning the Spirit which they who believed on him were about to receive; for, not yet, was there Spirit, because Jesus, not yet, was glorified!” – (The Emphasized Bible).
(John 15:26) – “Whensoever the Advocate shall come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, The Spirit of truth, which from the Father cometh forth, He will bear witness concerning me.” – (The Emphasized Bible).

After his ascension, Jesus “sent the promise of his Father upon” his disciples to empower them for gospel proclamation. He began to reign following his ascension, therefore, he had “received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 24:45-49, Acts 2:33-38).

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Having ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Thus, he linked the possession of the Spirit and the authority to distribute its gifts to the enthronement of Jesus (Ephesians 4:8-12).

Thus, Jesus is the quintessential man of the Spirit. Neither his present reign nor what he is doing in his people can be understood apart from the gift of the Spirit, which sets his people apart for service in the kingdom of God.

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