Mathew 5:23-25 “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people… and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics and paralytics and He healed them…”
When we see the above kind of fruit in someone’s ministry these days, we would often call that person anointed. We know that Jesus was “The Anointed One”. He is the One who baptises us with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Math 3:11). Likewise, He is the One who anoints us with the Holy Spirit and with power, just as His Father anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38).
Salvation is an instant moment. A moment where we supernaturally move from darkness to light, from the kingdom of satan to the Kingdom of God, from eternal death to eternal life, all in a split second! However, after salvation there is a journey, a journey of transformation, growth and walking in calling and destiny. A journey during which He transforms His bride into Christlikeness. He is very familiar with the intricacies of this journey, since He walked and lived it every step of the way. For our journey we need His Anointing, without which we will be striving in our own strength, producing after the flesh instead of after the Spirit.
What was the journey Jesus had to walk to get to the Mathew 5 (and beyond) fruit in His ministry? Surprisingly it did not come instantly.
We start in Mathew 4, the account of Jesus’ baptism. John did not want to baptise Jesus, in fact vs. 14 says he tried to prevent it by saying, “I need to be baptised by You and are You coming to me?” John recognized the immenseness of this moment and could not fathom that Jesus required such a thing of him. However, Jesus answered John, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. I do not understand the depth of this answer, what I do know though is that the King of the universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Messiah, the Son of God acknowledged the Anointing that was resting on John the Baptist at this incredible moment, and He submitted Himself to that – to the Anointing – not to the position nor to the person of John the Baptist himself. Jesus had a higher position than John and He was a sinless person. So neither the person John was, nor the position he held, could have given him the authority to baptise Jesus, John knew that, and he voiced it. But Jesus understood that anointing and authority go hand-in-hand. Jesus was not too proud to submit Himself to baptism by John, neither did He judge John for his imperfectness, nor did He ascribe undue adoration or worship to John. He focused on the Anointing of God that rested on John the Baptist.
Likewise, there is a moment in our own lives where we will recognise and acknowledge the Anointing of God in another human being, often in defiance of person and position. Anointing is imparted when we voluntarily choose to yield our hearts and receive His Anointing in spite of the person through whom the Anointing is imparted. Pride will keep us from submitting, and judgement as well as inappropriate adoration of the person through whom the Anointing comes, will prevent the flow of the Holy Spirit simply because the focus is on the person instead of on God himself.
In vs. 16-17 we read “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold the heavens were opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying “This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”. As Jesus was baptised with water the Holy Spirit was poured out on Him! Immediately after His baptism, the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy (Mark 1:12, Math 4:1).
The devil waited until Jesus was physically at His weakest, before he came with his temptations. We can expect the devil to pitch up in our weakest moment, but when we are at a point of complete dependence on the Holy Spirit, He can be strong, wise and honourable in us and for us (1 Cor 4:10). The very first area that Satan attacked in the wilderness was that of His identity. The very word that was supernaturally spoken over Him from His Father in heaven at His baptism was brought into question. Satan said to Jesus (vs. 3), “If you were the Son of God…then command the stones to become bread”. He wanted Jesus to doubt His identity and then to take action to prove His identity as the Son of God. Jesus answered him by saying that it will not be the physical food He would receive from the stones turned into bread that would prove His identity, but the Word that proceeded from the mouth of His father when He was baptised. “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…” (Math 3:17). Satan will try to convince us to question our identity in Christ, to doubt the truth of the revelation the Holy Spirit gives us in our hearts, and he will try to lure us into his trap of trying to prove or defend this. Jesus overcame this by holding on to the truth of the Word of the Father spoken over him.
Satan’s second attempt still focused on the issue of identity, still satan tried to convince Jesus to doubt and prove that he was the Son of God through using the power that He had over the angels. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down… for He shall give his angels charge over you…” (Math 4:6). He wanted Jesus to test the truth of the Word of God regarding His protection by inappropriately using His Anointing. However, this time he came to Jesus with scripture (Ps 91:12), thus using the truth that God had spoken, but out of context. Jesus had to recognise the spirit behind the words of the scripture to know whether the word was authentic or not. Jesus dismissed satan with another word from scripture quoted within the context of the situation He was in. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God…” (Deut 6:16). In doing so He said that the Word of God should not be used to serve your own purposes or desires - it should be applied within a Holy Spirit-lead context. Surely there are times in our lives when the enemy comes armed with the Word of God having the likeness of truth yet being misappropriated by the spirit of the enemy. Jesus overcame the temptation by discerning the spirit behind the written word. He did so in submission to His Father (He did not do anything except what He saw His father doing, John 5:19). He poured out His Holy Spirit upon us so that we would be able to supernaturally discern the spirit.
When satan realised that he was not winning the battle against Jesus’s identity, and that he also could not manage to tempt Jesus to use the power of the Holy Spirit inappropriately, he seemed to accept and acknowledge the fact that Jesus was the Son of God, since he did not dispute this any longer. This time he tried to convince Him that there is a shortcut to acquire authority over the kingdoms of the world. “All this authority has been given me and I give it to whomever I wish…” (Luke 4:6). Jesus did not dispute the fact that satan had the authority to offer Him the kingdoms of the world. Per implication satan suggested that he has a better idea than God the Father. Jesus does not have to go through any suffering, trials, tribulations, rejection and physical or emotional hurt. He offered Jesus an “easy” way to His ultimate goal, namely to rule over the kingdoms. His pre-requisite? That Jesus worship him… Satan is hungry for our worship, he will try anything to get us to worship him in whatever way. My worship is holy, it belongs to God Almighty only and we should guard over that carefully, having an earnest desire and willingness to be corrected by the Holy Spirit whenever necessary. He is the only One worthy of our worship. Jesus dismissed satan with another quote from scripture: “You shall worship and serve only the Lord thy God….” Jesus overcame the temptation to escape pain and chose to worship only His Father. He chose to earn the authority over the kingdoms of the world by suffering through the pain of the crucifixion and He guarded over whom He worshiped. Ironically the angels did come and tend to Jesus just like Ps 91 said they would! Satan wanted Jesus to attempt “forcing” this moment prematurely when he spoke that word to Him earlier. Through suffering Jesus had to learn to be obedient just like we have to (Heb 5:8). After this satan departed from Jesus “until an opportune time…” What would be this opportune time? Was Jesus’ Anointing complete after the desert experience? Apparently not…
Then, in Luke 4:14 a very interesting statement is made. It says “Then Jesus returned (from the wilderness) in the power of the Spirit…” In other words He went into the wilderness filled with the Holy Spirit, overcame the temptations through suffering and obedience to his Father, and the result was the power of the Holy Spirit manifested through Him. Anointing is the power and the authority of God the Holy Spirit, and we are given access to this when we learn to overcome our battlefields in the desert times of our lives. We learn to walk in obedience in spite of trials, tribulations and temptation. We submit ourselves fully to God and allow him to take us through the difficult times so that He can produce in us perseverance, character and hope that does not disappoint because the love of God is poured out in our spirits through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:8).
The news of Jesus’ ministry started spreading throughout Galilee because now the signs and wonders of Math 5:23-25 started to manifest in His ministry. At Nazareth He went into the synagogue and stood up to read. He was handed the book of Isaiah and read Is 61:1,2 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”. It was only after the wilderness experience that Jesus could declare that He was Anointed to step into His ministry. Any declaration before the desert experience would have been premature. Anointing is a growing process of earning authority by being obedient in suffering. As Jesus’ authority grew so did the power of the Holy Spirit start to manifest in His ministry and He taught the people with authority not with the mere words of men (Luke 4:32)
The people’s reactions were varied. There were those who recognised and acknowledged His Anointing, who followed and glorified Him (Luke 4:15), but then there were also those who questioned His authority. “Is this not the son of Joseph…?” (Luke 4:22). When we start to walk in God’s Anointing, we can expect people to question and oppose our Anointing. Often it would be those from our home town. Jesus responded to their lack of faith and questioning of His authority but they would not heed His words and they opposed His Anointing to the point where they wanted to kill Him by taking Him to the side of a cliff and wanting to throw Him over it. Sound familiar? Yes, previously satan just wanted Him to choose to jump in the hope that He would get the reward satan offered. This time satan wanted to kill Him, no strings attached. We can expect satan to try to kill us when we start to walk in our Anointing. He knows that the Anointing breaks the yoke, he fears it, and would do anything to prevent us from functioning in our Anointing. He tries to literally sometimes kill us, sometimes he tries to kill our hopes, dreams, callings and destiny. Sometimes he tries to bring death into divinely appointed relationships, especially those relationships that God ordained for our protection and to launch us into our calling and destiny. This time Jesus uses His authority to save His own life – like He parted the waters of the Red Sea, He supernaturally made a way through the crowd and went His way. He used it appropriately, not because satan wanted Him to, but because it was not time for Him to die yet. There is a time and a place that is ordained of God where we have to walk in our Anointing, take up and exert our authority to overcome satan’s efforts to kill us – whether he is trying physically or emotionally or whether he is trying to kill our dreams, it is a God-ordained moment of overcoming, not just surviving. We have been Anointed for a time such as this.
Jesus continued to operate in His Anointing, healing the sick, setting the demon-possessed captives free, teaching the people about the Kingdom of God, and His Word was full of authority. But let us go back to the question of whether His Anointing was complete after the desert experience? What is meant by those few words “…until an opportune time…?” I believe this opportune time refers to the night Jesus was in Gethsemane. Just hours before He was praying in the garden, satan entered Judas, the opportune time had arrived. The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend and He would have to surrender His will to the will of His Father. Without this part of the journey, His Anointing to walk fully in His destiny and calling would not be complete. This battlefield seems to be the most difficult of all. Jesus sweated blood in order to surrender His will. An angel had to come and strengthen Him! We do not read that He sweated blood to overcome satan in the wilderness and even though the angels tended to Him after the temptation, He did not need to be strengthened by an Angel to overcome. It was this part of the journey that empowered Jesus to fulfill His ultimate calling and destiny. It was this part of the journey that equipped Him with the authority to willingly lay down His life on the cross.
Judas, once Anointed to drive out demons, like all the other disciples, lost his Anointing because he did not surrender his will to the will of God, he became the betrayer… At some point we may be the betrayer, at some point we may be betrayed... are you and I willing to pay the price to repent and to surrender our will to the will of the Father?
Anointing does not come nor does it stay without us continuously paying a price. The impartation is the easy part, it is the exciting part, and it is a “mount of transfiguration” moment. It is the journey after the impartation that brings Anointing to full maturation. It is the dying to self that clears the way for “The Anointed One” to flow through us in the power and authority of His Holy Spirit, this is the difficult part, and this is true Anointing. Jesus paid the price and He says in Hebrews 13 that He will never leave us nor forsake us on this journey. Am I willing to pay the price of obedience, to overcome the temptations, to endure through the suffering and the trials, the rejection, the betrayal, the surrendering of my will? Am I willing to pay the price to allow Father to bring my Anointing to maturity or am I hooked on the exhilaration of the moment of impartation?
© Author HG Venter 2014, Photo Marli du Toit 2013