Pentecost: Jesus, the Anointed One
Years ago, the movie “The Matrix” became a box office hit, and turned quickly into a “cult classic.” In it, the main character Neo is called “the One;” unbeknownst to himself, he is the messiah of the new world.
As is always the case in the new age movement, Christian themes are borrowed enough to make the story attractive to Christians, and those who have been at least living in the culturally post-Christian West.
The real story of Jesus is much more powerful and attractive than the Matrix or any other made up storyline. The fact is, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is not just a story in an old book. Even pagan and Jewish historians shortly after the time of Jesus recorded that there was a man from Nazareth, who some of the Jews claimed to be their messiah, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Of course, they don’t record His resurrection; if they did, they would have to become Christians.
Jesus was a real historical person. Unlike Neo from the Matrix, He was well-aware of His destiny, who He was, and what He was called to do. He knew He was the messiah, the chosen one, the anointed one.
See, the Jewish word and idea of the “messiah,” was translated into Greek as Χρήστος, transliterated into English as “Christos,” “Christ.” The writers of the Gospel, such as when Peter says to Jesus, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God,” (Matt. 16:16) were living in the Greco-Roman culture. The Jews were a minority; although they were living in their own land, they were controlled by the Romans.
When the Jewish writers of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark and John) and the Greek Luke wrote that Jesus is the Christ, they were encapsulating the Jewish meaning of a Messiah- a saviour, one who would free them from the oppression of the Romans, or any other nation- and the Greek understanding of the anointed one, and the anointing.
Greek olympians, as well as soldiers, would anoint themselves with oil before sports and before battle. The Greeks believed that oil was good for health, for cooking, for protection. Christos, the anointed one, for them would be like the heroes of old, from their legends- those who had supernatural strength and power.
Jesus was, is the Jewish messiah, as well as the Anointed One. He carried, and carries the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Jesus is Christ, ‘anointed,’ because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness.” (CCC 690) The anointing is synonymous with the Holy Spirit- the fullness of the power of God. Jesus was anointed without measure. (John 3:34)
St. Gregory of Nyssa explains it,
“The notion of anointing suggests . . . that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son's Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith.” (CCC 690)
According to this Father of the early Church, anyone who confesses “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour,” the Holy Spirit will come to them “from all sides.” This is the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). This is attested to in Scripture- Romans 10, which declares, “if your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.” (verse 9) How does this work? “By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved.” (Verse 10; both from the Jerusalem Bible)
It is not a head exercise- not a matter for the intellect to try and grasp. The analytical mind can be the enemy of faith. Faith is something from the heart, that has met a person- like when someone falls in love. It is almost tangible, emotional, seems irrational. It is something real. This is what happens when a person truly comes to the Lord Jesus in faith, and says, “I’m sorry for the things I’ve done- I was looking for You and didn’t know it. I was ‘looking for love in all the wrong places,’ and was away from You…but now I surrender my life and ask You to take control, be my Saviour and Lord,” if they truly speak and pray from their hearts, the Holy Spirit will come to them. (more on this prayer here)
This is what distinguishes Christian disciples from nominal Christians. There is a stark difference between those who know Jesus personally, who have met Him, and made Him their Lord, who have experienced the anointing of the Holy Spirit- His warmth, His presence, His peace flowing from Heaven into their hearts- and those who simply attend church and go through religious rituals. The mean people in church, the religious and legalistic people, most likely have not met Jesus yet. If they have, they have forgotten their “first love,” as it says in Revelations 2:4.
Christianity is about the Anointed One- Jesus, Who is anointed by the Holy Spirit. Christians are “little anointed ones.” When Jesus enters into the heart of person, they become like Him- God’s plan is fulfilled Who made us in His image, but we nearly destroyed His image by sin. The Holy Spirit within makes us more and more like Jesus- this is why the saints had ministries of healing, signs and wonders, and miracles just like Jesus. This is why St. Francis and Padre Pio bore the wounds of Jesus…the more we grow closer to Jesus, the more anointed by the Holy Spirit we become. Jesus never did a single miracle before getting anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Those of us who are baptized should wonder, “why do I not experience the same intimacy with the Father that Jesus did? Why do I not see the signs and wonders that Jesus did in my own life?” Jesus said that His disciples would do greater works than He did. (John 14:12)
Perhaps it is because many Christians have not yet surrendered their lives to Jesus completely. They have not received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, personally, filling their lives with grace. They were anointed in baptism and confirmation, but never had a personal explosion of grace, a renewal, a born-again experience that is required for our salvation (John 3).
The Pope has given us the remedy for this: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 3) Jesus says, “let all who are thirsty, come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.” (Rev. 22:17) Once we have received this new life from Jesus, who has come under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and experienced His tangible grace, becomes a “Spirit-filled evangelizer,” as Pope Francis calls them: “Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit… The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.” (EG, 259)
As we prepare for Pentecost, we say “Come, Lord Jesus!” Come, Holy Spirit! May we encounter Jesus anew, in a new anointing and a deeper power from God, in Jesus Name, Amen. May all who seek it, be filled with the Holy Spirit and come to be a disciple of Christ Jesus.
Dan Devine, M. Div.
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"Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." (Luke 6:38) "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and try me in this, saith the Lord: if I open not unto you the flood-gates of heaven, and pour you out a blessing even to abundance." (Mal. 3:10)