Son and Spirit
When an angel informed Joseph that Mary’s child was “conceived of the Holy Spirit,” it indicated that something more than just a miraculous birth or the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy was about to unfold. From the very beginning, the activity of the Spirit characterized and dominated the life of Jesus of Nazareth. He was “Jesus, the one called Christ,” the “Anointed One,” the long-awaited Messiah of Israel.
He was (and is) the QUINTESSENTIAL MAN OF THE SPIRIT. Neither his messianic mission nor his present reign can be understood apart from the presence and activity of the Spirit of God in his life and ministry.
|[Photo by Luke Vodell on Unsplash]|
And the same Spirit now sets his people apart for service to the Kingdom of God. Since his exaltation, Jesus is the one who dispenses the Gift of the Holy Spirit to empower his Church to proclaim his reign and message of salvation to all the nations of the Earth.
In the Hebrew Bible, the verb rendered “anointed” is mashakh, meaning “smear, daub; to anoint” (Strong’s - #H4899). It is the word from which the corresponding English term ‘messiah’ is derived. The Greek noun used for ‘messiah’ in the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament is christos (Strong’s - #G5547).
The English term ‘Christ’ is the anglicized spelling of the Greek noun. Both mashakh and christos denote someone or something that is “anointed” - (Leviticus 4:3, Daniel 9:25, Mathew 1:16).
Under the Levitical system, olive oil was used to “anoint” persons and things to separate them for sacred or royal service. In the Tabernacle, the altar, tent, table of showbread, and the vessels for rituals were all “anointed,” along with the priests, especially, the High Priest. Kings were anointed at their enthronement, which is why they were termed “Yahweh’s Anointed” - (1 Samuel 12:3, 26:11, Psalm 2:2, 45:7).
The key messianic prophecy applied to Jesus frequently in the New Testament is from the second Psalm - (e.g., Matthew 3:17, Hebrews 1:1-5, Revelation 12:5):
- (Psalm 2:1-9) – “The kings of the Earth take their station, and grave men have met by appointment together, against Yahweh and against HIS ANOINTED ONE… My Lord will mock at them: Then will he speak to 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 has said to me: You are my son. This day, I have begotten you.
The Psalm concerns the ideal king of Israel destined to sit on David’s throne forever. He is called “Yahweh’s anointed,” as well as “My King” and “My Son.”
The Psalm is a prophecy about the “Anointed One,” the “Son” and king appointed by God to reign over the nations from “Mount Zion.” But unlike historical kings and priests of Israel and Judah, he is anointed with God’s Spirit, not olive oil. The presence of the Spirit is what sets him apart from his predecessors.
All four gospel accounts record how the Spirit descended on Jesus following his baptism in the Jordan River. In each account, his anointing is 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” – Mark 1:1-9, John 1:32-34).
When the voice declared him to be “My beloved Son,” it was echoing the clause from the second Psalm - “You are my Son.” The descent of the Spirit meant he was “anointed” directly by God Himself for his Messianic mission.
In the Old Testament, certain men were endowed temporarily by God’s Spirit, but with Jesus, the Spirit descended and “REMAINED ON HIM.” Moreover, he received the fullness of the Spirit, and “not by measure” - (John 3:34).
Following his baptism, Jesus was driven “by the Spirit” into the wilderness to be tested. The Gospel of Luke records that after defeating Satan, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.” Shortly thereafter, while preaching in a synagogue, he declared:
- “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because HE ANOINTED ME to preach good tidings to the poor. He sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.” - (Luke 4:13-18).
And so, it was the Spirit that equipped Jesus for ministry. And he himself attributed his miracles and deeds to the Spirit of God. For example, when he was accused of exorcising demons “by the power of Satan,” he retorted, “But if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out demons” - (Matthew 12:28). This was also 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 Spirit is integral to the identity, mission, and goal of the Messiah. But Jesus also is the one who now possesses and dispenses the Gift of the Spirit to his people, just as he promised to send the Spirit after his glorification:
- (John 7:37-39) – “If any man thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me, just as said the Scripture, Rivers from within him shall flow of living water. NOW, THIS HE SPOKE CONCERNING THE SPIRIT WHICH THEY WHO BELIEVED ON HIM WERE ABOUT TO RECEIVE; for, not yet was the Spirit, because not yet was Jesus glorified” - (John 15:26).
After his ascension, he “sent the Promise of his Father,” the Gift of the Spirit, upon his disciples, empowering them to proclaim the Gospel “to the uttermost ends of the earth.” He had “received of the Father the Promise of the Holy Spirit.” As Paul writes, “Having ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
Thus, the possession of the Spirit and the authority to distribute its gifts belong to Jesus, Yahweh’s anointed Son and King. And he now rules over the nations and the “kings of the Earth” from the Throne of David at the “right hand of the Majesty on High.” He truly is the Messiah and the Man of the Spirit.