Messiah, Spirit


Jesus is the promised Messiah, the King who reigns on David’s throne, and the anointed Son of God Psalm 2:1-9.

The second Psalm portrays the ideal king of Israel who is destined to sit on the throne of David. It identifies him as “Yahweh’s anointed,” “my king upon holy Zion,” and as “my son.” His enthronement marks “the day that Yahweh has begotten you.” His is the Messiah, the “anointed one” appointed by Yahweh to rule over the “nations.”

In the New Testament, this Psalm is applied to Jesus multiple times to attest to his messiahship, and to portray his present reign at the “right hand of God” over the earth – (Matthew 3:17, Hebrews 1:1-5, Revelation 2:26, 12:5).

  • (Psalm 2:1-9) – “The kings of earth take their station, and grave men have gathered together, against Yahweh and against his Anointed One, saying: ‘Let us break asunder their bonds, and cast from us their cords!’ He that sits in the heavens will laugh, 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, I, today, have begotten you. Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance, and as your possession, the uttermost parts of the earth.

In the Psalm, the Hebrew verb rendered “anointed” is mashakh, “to smear, daub; to anoint.” The English term ‘messiah’ is derived from it. The corresponding Greek noun in the Septuagint version is Christos, the source of the English name ‘Christ.’ Both Greek and Hebrew terms denote one who is “anointed” – (Leviticus 4:3Daniel 9:25, Mathew 1:16).

The substance used for “anointing” someone was olive oil, which was daubed or smeared on things and persons to set them apart for sacred service. In the first Tabernacle, things were consecrated by anointed for divine service, including the altar, the table of shewbread, and the various vessels used in rituals. Persons who were consecrated for ritual service included the priests, especially, the high priest – (Exodus 29:730:29-3040:13-15).

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

The second Psalm looked forward to Jesus, the “anointed one,” “son,” and king whom God would appoint to reign over all the nations. The frequent application of the Psalm to Jesus establishes him as that anointed ruler, the Messiah – (Matthew 3:1717:5Acts 4:25-2613:33Hebrews 1:5-6Revelation 1:4-6, 2:26-27).

Unlike the kings and priests of Israel, Jesus was anointed with God’s Spirit, NOT with olive oil, which distinguished him from his predecessors. Nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus “anointed” with olive oil for his messianic office, though one woman did anoint him with oil in preparation for his death and burial – (Isaiah 61:1-2, Psalm 45:7, Isaiah 11:1-5, 42:1, 59:21).

All four gospels record how the Spirit descended on him at his baptism in the Jordan. In each account, his anointing was confirmed by visual effects (“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).

Thus, Jesus was “anointed” directly by the Spirit of God. While John the Baptist administered his water baptism, no human being mediated the Spirit to him. In the Old Testament, other men were endowed temporarily by God’s Spirit for specific tasks, but with Jesus, the Spirit descended and “remained on him.” And unlike his predecessors, he had the fullness of the Spirit, and “not by measure” – (John 3:34)

Following his baptism, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, where he was tested by the Devil. The Gospel of Luke states that, after defeating Satan, “he 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).

Baptism of Jesus -
Baptism of Jesus –

Later, while preaching in a synagogue, Jesus proclaimed that 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.” Thus, it was the Spirit that equipped and empowered him for ministry – (Luke 4:18).

And Jesus certainly attributed his miracles to the Spirit of God, not to any superhuman power he may have possessed. For example, when accused of exorcising demons by the power of Satan, he retorted, “But if I, by the Spirit of God, cast out demons.” And if the Spirit of God was manifesting among men in his ministry, “then is the kingdom of God come upon you” – (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.
  • (Romans 1:4) – “The gospel 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.

Thus, the Spirit is integral to the identity and mission of the Messiah. But Jesus also became the one who possesses and bestows the Spirit on his “brethren,” and he promised to send it after his glorification, thereafter, the Spirit would “bear witness of me”:

  • (John 7:37-39) – “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink: He that believes on me, just as said the Scripture, river from within him shall flow of living water. Now, this said he concerning the Spirit, which they who believed on him were about to receive; for not yet was there Spirit, because Jesus was yet glorified.”
  • (John 15:26) – “Whenever the Advocate will come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which from the Father is coming forth, he will bear witness concerning me.”

And after his ascension, Jesus “sent the promise of his Father upon” his disciples. And that gift empowered them to proclaim the gospel, beginning in Jerusalem, and even “to the uttermost parts of the earth,” just as the Psalm promised – (Acts 1:6-9).

Since he began to reign from the messianic throne following his ascension, he had “received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.” As Paul wrote, “having ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Thus, the possession of the Spirit and the authority to distribute its gifts to his church belongs to Jesus, the Anointed King and “son of God”- (Luke 24:45-49, Acts 2:3338, Ephesians 4:8-12).

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

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