[August 10]--The Spirit at Work: Anointed and Led

Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:12-13

Like we said yesterday, the Incarnation is a glorious mystery that should lead to worship, and the Spirit was the One sent by the Father to initiate the process. For about thirty years, the Son of God walked among humanity, and most people had no idea who he really was. Presumably he took the job of his adopted father Joseph, and quietly waited for his Father’s timing.

Then finally the day came for him to reveal himself to mankind. His cousin John was baptizing crowds of people in the Jordan, and he joined them. He approached John to be baptized like everyone else, and the Baptizer’s reaction was pretty unexpected. Somehow the Spirit made it clear to him that this was the One they were waiting for, and he tried to dissuade Jesus from being baptized: “I need this from you, and you’re coming to me?”

What was Jesus’ response? Basically you could paraphrase it as “This is the right thing to do. This is the Father’s plan, and we’re going to stick with it.” In order to be our Savior, he had to not only keep from disobeying the Father; he had to actively choose to obey him in order to—for lack of a better term—store up the righteousness we need.

Now here’s where the Spirit’s work comes in. Have you ever wondered why Jesus is called “the Christ”? Strictly speaking, it’s not a name; it’s a title. The word “Christ” or “Messiah” literally means “anointed one.” When a king or priest was inaugurated into his new position, they traditionally poured oil on his head. This was roughly equivalent to a president placing his hand on a Bible while taking an oath of office.

But there was no oil poured on Jesus’ head here. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, just like Isaiah prophesied. The Holy Spirit came down on Jesus’ head, and at that moment he became the official Messiah. He’s the One chosen by God the Father to be our Savior and fulfill all the promises he'd made prior. This was completed by a public acknowledgement and official “stamp of approval” by the voice of the Father himself.

Now here’s where it gets really sticky. Right after the certification and pubic approval by the Father, Mark’s Gospel tells us that the Spirit “sent” him into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. Quite frankly, this might be too soft a term. This is the same Greek word which the Gospel writers used to describe the driving out of demons (like here). In other words, the Spirit strongly pushed our Savior out from civilization and into the first encounter with the Enemy of our souls. The same Spirit who anointed him and thus proclaimed him to be the Messiah now sent him into combat with his greatest enemy.

I get two applications out of this. First, this is the pattern for our Savior. He took on human flesh with all its frailties and weakness, and he laid aside his privileges and rights as God’s Son. He obeyed his Father’s instructions, and apparently these instructions and leading were through the Holy Spirit, at least in this case.

Of course, this is definitely the pattern for us as well. As believers, this is one of our greatest privileges of being God’s redeemed children: His Spirit lives inside us and leads us where we need to go.

Second, we need to keep in mind that the Spirit might lead us directions we might not be inclined to follow. His paths are counterintuitive at times. He never tempts us, but sometimes the road map he gives us can bring us under assault from our Enemy. At those times, it might even seem like we’re alone and unguarded. Take comfort. Although it may feel like it at times, he never ever ever leaves us unguarded. We’re the precious jewels in his crown! Would you leave something that valuable unsecured for some thief to snatch? What do you think?

Spirit of wisdom and understanding, your ways are not my ways, and your thoughts are not my thoughts. They’re much higher and better. Please give me listening ears and a soft heart.

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