The anointing

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.' (Mar 1:9–11)

Baptism

'At that time…' At the time the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside were being baptized by John in the Jordan River (Mar 1:5), Jesus came from Nazareth and was also baptized.

John was teaching the people to repent of their sins and to be baptized—baptism being an outward sign of repentance (Mar 1:4). So why was our Lord baptized, who had never sinned, nor would ever be guilty of sin?

Jesus said he was baptized to fulfil all righteousness (Mat 3:13–15), which meant it was his Father's will; but that doesn't explain the reason for it. I believe the Father wanted Jesus to be baptized to teach us some truths about baptism.

1. Its importance

If it was right for God's sinless Son to be baptized, how much more should we sinners be baptized. When Ananias met Saul after his conversion on the Damascus road he said, 'And now [Saul] what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name (Act 22:16).'

To Christians who are reading this study I ask: Have you had your sins washed away by baptism? And if not, then why not? Every believer should be baptized: God's Word commands it (Act 2:37–38).

2. Pledge of a good conscience

Baptism does not just symbolize the washing away of our sins, it is also the pledge of a good conscience towards God (1Pe 3:21), ie a solemn undertaking to do his will.

On the eve of his crucifixion Jesus asked if the cup he was about to drink could be taken from him. Then he added, 'Yet not as I will, but as you will (Mat 26:39).' Jesus fulfilled his baptismal pledge to obey God, even to dying on a cross.

3. Baptism of the Spirit

Peter told the crowd at Pentecost to repent and be baptized and they would receive the gift (the baptism) of the Holy Spirit (Act 2:37–38). As the Son of Man, Jesus was also baptized and received the gift (the baptism) of the Spirit.

When the Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost he came as tongues of fire, symbolizing the refining and purifying aspects of his ministry. Jesus was already pure, so when the Spirit came upon him he came as a dove, symbolizing the gentleness of his nature.

Immersion not sprinkling

As Jesus was baptized to fulfil all righteousness, so every believer should be baptized to fulfil all righteousness; and infant sprinkling is not New Testament baptism.

The Greek word translated 'baptize' in the New Testament is baptizo: it means to dip, to immerse, to plunge, to submerge. In Jesus' day it was used in the clothing trade to describe the submerging of cloth in a dye. I was sprinkled (christened) as a child, but I was baptized by immersion after I'd believed.

Why did I do that? Wasn't my infant sprinkling valid before God? I did it for two reasons:

Firstly, baptism not only symbolizes the washing away of our sins, but also the death and burial of our old way of life.

Rom 6:11 tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ. What do you do when someone dies? You bury them. When we're baptized by immersion our old body of sin (Rom 6:6–7) is buried in the water; we then rise up from the dead to live a new life of righteousness in Christ (Rom 6:4).

And secondly, when I was sprinkled as a child I had no say in the matter: my parents did it for me in good faith. But I can't get to heaven on my parents' righteousness, or what they've done on my behalf. Salvation is a personal matter that demands my own response to God.

That is why believer's baptism is so important: it's our own response, from our hearts, to what God has done for us in our lives.

As we've already seen, Peter told the believers to be baptized and they would receive the gift (the baptism) of the Holy Spirit (Act 2:38). If you haven't been baptized with the Holy Spirit when you are baptized in water, believe that you will be: it's a promise from God, and God keeps his promises!

Empowered

Mark tells us that as Jesus came up out of the water, heaven was torn open and the Spirit descended on him visibly, like a dove. Everyone present would have seen that. But why should God the Holy Spirit come down upon God the Son? The answer is given in Luk 3:23:

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.

Our Lord's ministry was about to begin: that is why the Holy Spirit came upon him.

If you talk about our Lord's earthly ministry, people might say, 'Well of course, Jesus was the Son of God. No wonder demons came out when he spoke; no wonder the sick were healed; no wonder the dead were raised.'

But Jesus didn't minister on earth as the Son of God, he only ministered on earth as the Son of Man empowered by the Holy Spirit—which is exactly how we minister. He shared in our humanity even to that level.

That is why he told his disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons and preach the gospel (Mat 10:5–8)—the very things he had been doing. In fact Jesus promised his followers even more than that. He said:

'I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.' (Joh 14:12)

When Jesus ascended into heaven he poured out on his Church the same Holy Spirit who had empowered him to minister; the same Holy Spirit who had come upon him when he was baptized.

But why did the Holy Spirit come in a visible form for everyone to see? God wanted the world to know that everything his Son was about to do would be done under the power and anointing of the Spirit.

That is also why the Holy Spirit came in a visible form at Pentecost. That similar event was designed to show that what was about to happen in the Church would be the result of the Holy Spirit coming upon ordinary men and women just like us.

Brothers and sisters, I cannot overemphasize our total dependence upon the Holy Spirit for spiritual ministry. Even our Lord was dependent on the Spirit.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. (Luk 4:14)

After his baptism and temptation Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit—not (please note) in the power of the Son of God—and news about him spread through the whole Judean countryside. What a contrast to the man who had stood anonymously among the crowd prior to his baptism.

Jesus returned to Nazareth and, on the Sabbath day, he went into the synagogue as was his custom (Luk 4:16). He may have attended that synagogue for thirty years, and for thirty years he'd been the Son of God, but something had changed: he was still the Son of God, but now he was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (Luk 4:21).' What scripture was he referring to? He was referring to Isa 61:1:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

The Holy Spirit had anointed Jesus. Peter spoke about his anointing and the power that came from it in Act 10:37–38:

'You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.'

Jesus had received the anointing and the power of the Spirit; and that same anointing and power is available to us.

Temptation

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert for forty days, being tempted by Satan. (Mar 1:12–13a)

Mark doesn't say much about our Lord's temptation in the desert, so we won't spend a lot of time on it. Suffice to say that on one occasion Satan tried to lure him into sinning by quoting scripture to him (Mat 4:5–7).

That is a subtle form of temptation for those who want to obey God. Satan not only knows scripture, he will quote it, but only with the intention of leading people astray.

However when Satan said: 'It is written… (v6)', Jesus replied, 'It is also written… (v7)'. We need to know the whole of the Word of God if we're to avoid deception, and the only way we can do that is by reading and studying the Word under the anointing of the Spirit (1Jo 2:26–27).

Angels

He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!' (Mar 1:13b–15)

I don't know about you, but I don't think about angels very often. That's probably because, as spirit beings, they normally remain invisible; although they can appear in human form (Gen 19:1–3; Heb 13:2).

Whether the angels attending Jesus in the desert were visible or invisible is uncertain, but the fact that they were there is important to us. The Greek word translated 'attended' (diakoneo) means to minister to or to serve, which is the same ministry angels perform for believers today (Heb 1:14).

Jesus was alone in the desert, and yet he was not alone. We may feel that we're alone at times, but we're not. We may not know how we're being served by angels, but the truth is that we are being served by angels—the Bible says so—and I find that very comforting.

We considered the importance of repentance in the previous study.

Cost of following Jesus

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mar 1:16–20)

These verses describe the calling of the first disciples. The men had been fishermen all their lives—it was the only life they knew—and yet when Jesus called them they left everything and followed him.

Does the world occupy such a place in our hearts that it would stop us from doing what God wants us to do? Would we be prepared, if Jesus asked us, to give up anything on earth to follow him? Jesus spoke about such commitment in Luk 9:62:

Jesus replied, 'No-one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'

What did he mean by that? In order to plough a straight furrow a farmer would have to look constantly ahead of him. If he looked back, the furrow he ploughed would not be straight.

Similarly, if having committed our lives to Jesus Christ we look back and long for the life we've left behind, our commitment to him will not be total. Such people are not fit to serve in God's kingdom, said Jesus.

That may sound harsh, but the same principle is taught in the Old Testament. Remember Lot's wife—she was told not to look back at what she was leaving behind; God was leading her to a new life. But she did look back and was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:17–26).

The Lord expects us to commit ourselves totally to the new life he calls us to; we can't have one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. Such is the cost of following Jesus.

Authority

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mar 1:21–22)

The Holy Spirit's anointing is difficult to describe: you can't see it; you just sense it on a person. The people were amazed at Jesus' teaching because he taught them as one who had authority. When an anointed person speaks their words have power, because God is speaking through them.

Church leaders have also been given authority by God to lead and shepherd his flock. One day they will have to account for their leadership, and that is an awesome responsibility. We are told to obey them when they give us moral and spiritual instruction so that their work will be a joy and not a burden (Heb 13:17).

Casting out demons

Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!'

'Be quiet!' said Jesus sternly. 'Come out of him!' The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. (Mar 1:23–26)

'What do you want with us?' the demon asked Jesus. Jesus wanted the demon out of the man, and we'll see why in a moment.

If what happened in that synagogue had happened in our church, we'd probably have put the man out of the church. But Jesus didn't put the man out of the church, he put the demon out of the man. And he didn't take him aside privately to do it; he drove it out publicly in full view of everyone.

It must have been a dramatic event: the Bible says that the spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. You would have thought there would have been no one left in the synagogue after that, but it wasn't the case.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, 'What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.' News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mar 1:27–28)

Instead of being frightened by what they saw, the people were amazed and greatly impressed; and news about Jesus spread quickly through the region.

I believe the Church has a lot to learn in this area. I'm not suggesting that all demons should be driven out in public—we should follow the leading of the Spirit on each occasion. But one thing is certain: there are no less demons around today than there were in Jesus' day, and Jesus and his disciples were driving them out wherever they went.

Why did Jesus want to cast the demon out of the man? We find the answer in Luk 11:14–20:

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, 'By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.' Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: 'Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.'

Jesus spoke of there being two kingdoms on earth: the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God. There is a battle raging constantly between these two kingdoms, and the battle is for the hearts and the minds of people. Satan wants to indwell people to manifest his evil; God wants to indwell people to manifest his righteousness.

Jesus said, 'If I drive out demons by the finger of God [Mat 12:28 says 'by the Spirit of God'], then the kingdom of God has come to you (v20).'

Jesus taught his disciples to pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come… (Mat 6:9–10)'. When demons come out of people, by the Spirit of God, then our prayers are being answered because the kingdom of God is coming to us.

No demon can come out of a person except by the power of God's Spirit and, when that happens, the kingdom of God is advancing and the kingdom of Satan is being driven back.

Jesus drove out demons to advance the kingdom of God and he told his disciples to do the same (Mat 10:5–8).

Michael Graham
October 2001
Revised September 2012

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®. NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

guide | home | next