THE HOLY SPIRIT'S WORK IN JESUS
Jesus experienced two specific works by the Holy Spirit: Conception and Anointing. Conception occurred in the womb of the Virgin Mary and Anointing during His baptism in the river Jordan. One without the other would have left His mission incomplete. Jesus' conception by the Spirit was for the purpose of His incarnation and redemption; the angel explained this to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’” Luke 1:35. In calming Joseph’s fears about Mary’s pregnancy, the same angel said, “She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21. The work of conception pointed toward the Cross and redemption.
Jesus’ anointing by the Spirit was for the purpose of His public ministry. He explained this in His first sermon in Nazareth when He said,"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." Luke 4:18-19. Prior to His anointing by the Spirit, Jesus healed no sickness, cast out no demon, performed no miracle. That changed immediately with the Spirit’s descent upon Him.
To be thorough students of the Word, we must be theologically confirmed with both aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in Jesus. Conception equipped Him for the Cross and Redemption; Anointing equipped Him for the miraculously endowed works of the gospel. Not only so, but we must realize that the Holy Spirit has more purpose with us than just our new-birth/conception. We too urgently need His anointing.
1. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit: Luke 1:35. “And the angel answered and said to Mary, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
2. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit. John 1:32-33: “John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending , and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' Jesus later explained to the synagogue in Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.” Luke 4:18. "Anointing" and ministry are inseparably connected.
Had Herod succeeded in killing Jesus at age two, Matthew 2:16, His blood would have been just as efficacious for the redemption of mankind as it was 31 years later. As an infant, conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was fully the Son of God when Mary gave Him birth; death by the Herodian sword or the Roman Cross would have made no difference. But, an additional work of the Holy Spirit was necessary before the benefit of His blood could be applied to mankind. As with Moses in Egypt, killing the Passover Lamb and putting its blood in the basin did not deliver Israel.
The blood had to be applied to the doorpost of each person being saved. Without the application of the blood, the Israelite’s firstborn would have died with the Egyptians. Identically for us, the blood of Jesus must be applied personally to each one. It is this which necessitated the Holy Spirit’s second work in Jesus. By that, I refer to the anointing that came upon Jesus in the Jordan and which initiated His public ministry. Prior to the Spirit’s descent at His baptism, Jesus healed no one, performed no miracle, preached no “Gospel of the Kingdom”. That abruptly changed when the Holy Spirit came upon Him.
3. The first disciples experienced the new birth-conception by the Holy Spirit. The new birth: John 20:21-22. “So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.‘” The Resurrection now being historic fact and the New Birth having arrived with the New Covenant, these are among the first to officially witness the end of the Law and the introduction of the Reign of Grace.
4. The disciples’ anointing: Acts 1:5,8. Jesus said, “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" ...“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Acts 2:1-4. “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
5. The Samaritans experienced the new birth-conception and anointing by the Holy Spirit. Their new birth: Acts 8:12. “But when the Samaritans believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”
6. The Samaritans anointing. Acts 8:14-17. “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
7. Saul of Tarsus experienced the new birth-conception and anointing by the Holy Spirit. Saul’s new birth: Acts 9:3-5. “As Saul journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
8. Saul’s anointing. Acts 9:17-18. “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”
9. Cornelius, the Gentile, experiences the new birth and anointing by the Holy Spirit. Cornelius’ new birth: Acts 10:1-2. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.” Acts 10:4. “So the angel said to him, Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.”
10. Cornelius and his household anointed. Acts 10:44-47: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word ... And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also ... For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
11. Believers in Ephesus have been born again but not received the anointing. Acts 19:1-2. “Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples, he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him,’We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’
12. The Ephesian believers receive the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Acts 19:6: “When Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”
At Pentecost the Holy Spirit anointed the second Body of Christ, the Church. Acts 2. I Corinthians 12:27. Jesus’ specific instruction to the disciples was “wait for the promise of the Father ...You will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now ... You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” Acts 1:4-8. The 120 disciples were already born-again before Pentecost; that work of the Holy Spirit in them was complete. But not so in the Holy Spirit’s anointing them for miraculous ministry and the evangelizing of the world. Without the anointing of God’s power upon them individually and corporately the gospel could not be presented to the “ends of the earth”. The Holy Spirit’s provision for “getting the blood out of the basin” and onto the people occurred in two distinct events:
1. The anointing of Jesus in the Jordan.
2. The anointing of the disciples in the Upper Room.
In referring to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Himself in the Jordan, Jesus said, :”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel ... ” Luke 4:16-20. Whether Christ or us, kingdom-preaching is inseparably connected to anointing. The words “Christ” and “Christian”--from the Greek word chrios–are not designations of the new birth but of the anointing. Information about the gospel may be learned academically but the actual ministry of the gospel can be rendered only by the Holy Spirit. The difference between preaching and lecturing is the presence or absence of the anointing. Tragically, there is much Christian “lecturing” in our day. Paul explained the difference, “Our sufficiency is of God who has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” II Corinthians 3:5-7. The Apostle’s statement is unmistakable: Without the Holy Spirit’s illumination, preaching that relies solely on the letter of the New Testament produces death.
Observe how "anointing" and ministry are inseparably connected. Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit was for the purpose of His incarnation and redemption. His anointing by the Holy Spirit was for " ... Healing the broken hearted, preaching deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and setting at liberty those who are bruised." To be thorough students of the Word, we must make this distinction carefully. These two works of the Spirit in Jesus’ experience are distinctive; one does not replace the other, and both were essential for the completion of redemption. Prior to the anointing, Jesus preached no message, healed no sickness, performed no miracle. When the anointing came that inactivity immediately changed.
I am fully persuaded that Jesus’ cry from the cross, My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?!,” occurred because the anointing of the Spirit lifted from Him. His incarnation as the Son of God remained unchanged but the Holy Spirit’s work of anointing was finished. Jesus’ gospel ministry was now complete. It is my opinion that if the Comforter had remained with Him He could not have died. As the ultimate scapegoat, Jesus had to be abandoned by the Father and the Spirit. But the abandonment was not negative for the Holy Spirit; He lifted from Jesus in anticipation of coming upon the new body of Christ–the Church–in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2. The effect of the Holy Spirit’s descent on the disciples was as explosive as it had been with Jesus. Immediately, they “went everywhere preaching the word.”
Historians estimate that within fifty-six years following Pentecost the gospel had been preached throughout the Roman world and much of the Far East. The "anointing" made the difference. There is reliable evidence that the Apostle Thomas reached India, establishing churches. If the first-century disciples needed the Holy Spirit's baptism, can we expect to need less? The answer is obvious. This points out the Bible truth that regeneration alone does not equip us for the spiritual work of ministry. Thankfully, every believer can quote Scripture--that is wonderful--but the gospel of the Kingdom is much, much, more than a mere presentation of Bible facts. In varying ways, this Kingdom-gospel is confirmed with “signs following”. Mark 16:17. Baptism and anointing in the Spirit opens the way for this to be done. Through the impartation of this holy power, the Spirit and the Bride simultaneously say “come.” Revelation 22:17. In the intent of God, this is the only gospel; ageless, unchanged, eternally the same. It is the vocal, audible, declaration of Jesus’ atonement, accompanied by the Holy Spirit’s anointing, which draws into itself all the spiritual and physical benefits of Kingdom power. Any lessor gospel is insubordination to the Kingdom. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s anointing is to empower redeemed men and women with Kingdom authority to preach that gospel with all its original, miraculous manifestations.
The modern church lacks miraculous power because it has wrongly assumed preaching the gospel requires nothing more that the presentation of Bible facts. Absolutely, this is not so! Seminaries, Bible Schools, wonderful as they are, can only impart academic knowledge. Even those which acknowledge the need for spiritual gifts are powerless to provide them. We receive them directly from Jesus as the baptizer in the Holy Spirit or we do not get them at all. John 1:33. A pastor can have a dozen University Degrees on his office wall and still be disqualified from providing genuine New Testament ministry. Paul learned Scripture at the feet of Gamaliel but said, “what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” Philippians 3:7. He explained his true qualification for ministry to the Church in Galatia: “I went up by revelation and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles.” 2:2. Note the language that he “went up”, and experienced “revelation.” He further said, “The gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1:11,12.His “going up” and experiencing “revelation” challenged hearers with an irresistible authority that went far beyond his merely quoting Scripture. Paul verified the presence of this power when he wrote of things Christ accomplished in him ”in word and deed ... in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” Romans 15:18-19. Paul equated “fully preaching the gospel” with “mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God.” So it was then. So it is now.
In the exact pattern of other New Testament disciples Paul experienced two encounters with the Holy Spirit: The first on the Damascus road when he was born-again; the second in the Damascus room when Ananias laid-hands on him, filling him with the Holy Spirit. The first prepared Paul for Heaven; the second prepared him for power-endued gospel ministry. Without the second, the first would have been inadequate for preaching. Observe that this is an exact parallel of the Holy Spirit’s work in Jesus: First, birth by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, empowering by the Holy Spirit. And this is the same two-step pattern intended for us:
Regeneration and baptism by the Spirit. This was the identical pattern of the original disciples: On the day of the resurrection Jesus breathed into them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22. This was the moment of their new birth. Their anointing at Pentecost occurred 40 days later.
When Peter preached to the household of Cornelius, “The Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the word,” Acts 10:44-45. Today, as then, the empowered gospel can invade the physical realm, reconnect it to the spiritual by changing natural circumstances into supernatural manifestations. Peter’s presence as a messenger of the Kingdom was essential but the man himself was not the source of power--it was the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon him. Then, as now, the Holy Spirit anoints preaching that honors Jesus. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit ...” 1 Thessalonians 1:5. I say this to the glory of God but there have been times when the anointing of the Holy Spirit was so strong on me that people whom I approached in hotel lobbies, malls, parking lots, restaurants, wherever I happened to be, dropped to the ground under the power of God. And God did not seem to care what the public thought. He simply met needs wherever He encountered them. As with Philip’s preaching in Samaria, these people rose from that encounter experiencing “great joy.” Acts 8:8. How does one receive the anointing? Jesus said, "Your Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” Luke 11:13. Ask, friend, ask! If you have not done so, stop your foolish arguing and receive it! Your Christian walk will be transformed.