TODAY’S READING: ACTS 10-11
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” – Acts 10:38
When we hear the word power, we tend to think of great physical strength, political control or influence, the ability to control or a controlling group, legal authority. We associate all these things with kings and kingdoms.
Speaking of his second coming, Jesus said, “And they will see the Son of Man coming clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26) We know that at Jesus’ second coming the kingdom of God will be fully realized. Jesus will be king of kings. Since he will be coming to establish the kingdom with power, we jump to the conclusion that Jesus’ coming in power will be with great physical strength, the ability to control others, and legal authority. We tend to think Jesus is going to wield power over others. We even think Jesus will use his power to assign people to hell and eternal torment and eternal fire.
This misunderstanding of power is exactly how the Jews missed Jesus’ first coming. And, many Christians are missing Jesus now because they misunderstand his power in exactly the same way.
But, this understanding of God anointing Jesus with power, the understanding the Jews had and many Christians have today, conflicts with God anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit. See, we tend to treat the anointing with power as something distinct or different from the anointing with the Holy Spirit. But, they are one and the same.
God anointing Jesus with power cannot conflict with God anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit.
We know what the anointing of the Holy Spirit looks like. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Other translations include a few different words, such as longsuffering, meekness, and temperance. Do any of these words align with our typical views of power, specifically our view that power is something to be used over someone?
Of course not.
Indeed, the first attribute of fruit of the Holy Spirit, love, is completely counter to our typical view of power. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Love is the power of God. Love is the power that enabled Jesus endure the suffering of the cross for us. But, we would ever say about power the things Paul says about love?
No, for that’s not what we think about power.
But, what Paul wrote about love is what God thinks about power.
Power is patient and kind; power does not envy or boast, power is not arrogant or rude. Power does not insist on its own; power is not irritable or resentful; power does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but power rejoices with the truth. Power bears all things, power believes all things, power hopes all things, power endures all things. Power never ends (or fails).
Does this not change how think of power? Of the power that Jesus was anointed with?
Power bears all things.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24) Jesus was powered to do this.
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)
Jesus exercised the power he was anointed with when he suffered when he was tempted just as we suffer when we are tempted. Walking the power to suffer, to bear all things, all our sins, was how Jesus became a merciful high priest who is able to help us, to heal us.
Therefore, Peter says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
Jesus was anointed with power not for physical strength, for political control or influence, for control of anyone, or legal authority. Jesus was anointed with power to suffer as we suffer, to bear all things, to bear our sins, so that he would be merciful to us, doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.
Jesus was not anointed with power to rule (as we think of ruling), to have power over anyone.
Jesus was anointed with power to serve, to have power under everyone.
Given Luke’s account of what Peter said about Jesus being anointed with power, it is no surprise then what Luke’s gospel says about the power that Jesus was anointed with and walked in.
“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.” – Luke 4:14
Where did Jesus return from?
Resisting Satan in the wilderness.
What was Satan tempting Jesus with?
Using his power for himself. Taking power over creation to feed himself. Taking power over the kingdoms of the world to rule them. Taking power over God.
Jesus resisted all these temptations and returned in the power of the Spirit.
So, Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath, grabbed a scroll, and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who were oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
This is how Jesus was going to walk in the power he had been anointed with.
Then, Luke shows Jesus over and over walking out his being anointed with power.
“And they were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!'” – Luke 4:36
“On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.” – Luke 5:17
“And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.” – Luke 6:19
When the woman with the issue of blood was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment, “Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.'” – Luke 8:46
“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.” – Luke 9:1
“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” – Luke 24:49
Why did God anoint Jesus with power?
To do good, to heal, and to set free all those oppressed by the devil.
Jesus is not going to return with a different power or to wield his power his power in a different way, over people instead of under people.
“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:28
Christ suffered by his anointing with power to bear our sins, to do good and to heal us, at his first coming. But, he only did this once. Therefore, he is coming a second time with power, with love, to save.