During the Old Testament times an individual after being chosen for a specific responsibility was anointed by pouring of specially prepared oil over his head. This anointing was carried out by a specially designated person as per instructions of the LORD God. Thus Aaron was anointed by his younger brother Moses, as commanded by the LORD, as the High Priest to represent the Israelites before Him, to pray, to intercede and offer sacrifices on their behalf. In this ceremony, both the anointer and the anointed, have explicit responsibilities for preparing the person for his God assigned role.
What is true meaning of anointing? Moses, as per God’s command, anointed his elder brother Aaron as the High Priest by pouring oil over his head (Exodus 30:30). The Hebrew word ‘mashach’ means to pour oil, anoint and the Hebrew word Mashiach is used for the Anointed One, the Christ. Greek word ‘chrio’ also implies the same meaning, ‘to consecrate, set apart or anoint’. Lord Jesus read the Scripture in the Synagogue in Nazareth ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me’ for His duty was God given from before being born as Man (Luke 4:18). The anointing of Lord Jesus was declared before His being placed in His mother Mary’s womb (Luke 1:32). The message from God declared by angel Gabriel was, ‘He will be great, and will be the Son of the Highest, and the LORD God will give Him the throne of His father David’. His was an exclusive anointing which no one else can ever have.
Apostle Paul has confirmed the anointing of every believer that, ‘He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, Who also has sealed us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee’ (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). A believer at his/her baptism is anointed by God and the Holy Spirit dwells in us to empower, guide and lead us for our role for and in the kingdom of heaven. Before the anointing a believer had the knowledge by experience but after that comes the ‘knowledge by intuition’ or knowledge as a gift from God to meet the challenges coming in the way to accomplish God’s purposes. Apostle John clarifies that ‘the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him’ (1 John 2:27). The anointing which guides us into truth also guides us closer to Lord Jesus. This is about living in faith of Him, holding to His truth, following and living as per His example and making Him our dwelling place.
Anointing is always by God and it is for a specific purpose; His Son was anointed as the Redeemer; Aaron was anointed by Moses at God’s command by Moses to be the representative of the Israelites before God and David was anointed by Prophet Samuel, under orders from God, to be king over Israel. In each case the Holy Spirit led the anointed ones. Lord Jesus on the same day of His resurrection visited the disciples and said, ‘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’ (John 20:21-23). With this He also gave them authority to forgive sins and if they retained the sins of any, ‘they are retained’. Though the fullness of the Holy Spirit was received by them on the Day of Pentecost, yet the initial anointing to help them for those fifty days was done by the Lord. Apostle Paul has rightly said that, ‘no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 12:3). One is led into the truth by the Holy Spirit and then he/she is baptized into the Holy Trinity by the Pastor and the third phase or the anointing in the Holy Spirit is then done by Lord Jesus.
Apostle Peter then reveals the result of this anointing, that we become, ‘chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people’ for performing the assigned role ‘to proclaim the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light’ (1 Peter 2:9).
Importance of anointing – A person may be assigned a task and unless the one who desires the performance, gives the resources to do that, the work is likely to remain incomplete or may not start at all. Therefore since we are representatives of God’s kingdom of heaven on earth, ‘’we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:10), God anoints us as per each one’s role. Jeremiah was known, sanctified and ordained as a ‘prophet to the nations’ by God even before he was born (Jeremiah 1:5-9). For his final anointing after birth, ‘the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth’ saying, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’. He could then receive and proclaim the commands of the LORD to the Israelites for without the anointing one cannot hear God’s voice/commands.
Lord Jesus commanded the disciples ‘not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father’ (Acts 1:3) about another Helper and only then set out for the mission of preaching the Gospel and making disciples. We also must wait for the command to move out though the Holy Spirit dwells in us at baptism, for this is about going into a war zone where the devil and his forces of darkness are our enemies.
Are there different levels of anointing? It is human nature to think that others have more ‘power’ or ‘anointing’ because of their faith, status in the church or because they seem to be doing more works. But I fact, ‘The Spirit of Him (God) Who raised Jesus from the dead resides in you’ (Romans 8:11). A believer is blessed with ‘every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1:3-4). Every one of us was chosen by God to become part of His Divine family before anything came into being for the all-knowing God was well aware of sin and its consequences for the world. But an heir who is unaware of his inheritance, or is unfit to handle that because of immaturity, or ‘as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave’ (Galatians 4:1). Despite owning everything, he lives poorly and a believer who does not know about his status in Lord Jesus lives as a slave to the devil.
God has given spiritual blessings and gifts of the Holy Spirit to all as per their assigned role and ability (1 Corinthians 11:7-11). But these are not for personal enhancement but ‘for the profit of all’. Also anointing is for a task and as per the will of God and not individual choice. The general task for all believers is to ‘make disciples’ and for this ‘knowledge, wisdom and understanding’ is given to all. We are supposed to use these gifts of the anointing for works of the heavenly kingdom.
Lord Jesus’ anointing was first carried out by God the Father (John 20:21). He was sent by the Father for His new role as a Man and Redeemer of mankind. The Son of God ‘made Himself of no reputation’ despite being God and the Father sent Him fully blessed for this. ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38).
His second anointing was by ‘sinner woman’ in Capernaum in Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:37-38 & 19-22). Since John the Baptist’s disciples came to Him to confirm about His being the Messiah, for John was in prison, this was in the first year of His ministry where the honoring of the Lord by the ‘sinner woman’ was on behalf of all sinners.
The third anointing was just before His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and this is anointing of a King moving into His capital by Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. This was in Bethany and next day He rode a donkey as Prince of Peace. On both of these occasions, this anointing was through pouring of the fragrance at His feet to honor Him for His ministry, or His walk as Son of Man on the earth.
The fourth anointing was termed by the Lord as a preparation for His burial. It happened two days before the Passover at the house of Simon the leper. In this the pouring of the fragrant oil was not on His feet for His walk and ministry but on the head and it probably flowed over His body. Also the woman is supposed to have come from the front and not from behind.
Fifth anointing is in heaven when God the Father restored His original glory as Son of God, that He had with the Father since eternity past (John 17:5). God highly exalted His Son for His new role as Advocate and High Priest of mankind being man (Philippians 2:9-10). Being worthy, He was bestowed with ‘power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing’ in heaven (Revelation 5:12). After this anointing Lord Jesus ‘sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High’ with all power and authority over everything in heaven, on earth and below the eath (Hebrews 1:3). Nobody can sit in the presence of God and secondly, position of right hand is the place of honor and authority which the Lord has been given by the Father.
Lord Jesus anointed the disciples for their walk in Him by washing their feet first time (John 13:5). God the Father anointed them by the Holy Spirit when the ‘divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:2-4). They were thus prepared for their specific roles for there are different ministries and there are ‘diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all’ (1 Corinthians 11:5-6 & 11). The power of the Holy Spirit works in each believer as per His specific task that has been assigned. We must earnestly desire all spiritual gifts to be more effective in our life but no one can lay claim on this as a right. As per Scripture ‘One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one as He wills’. Apostle Paul has advised all believers to ‘pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts’ (1 Corinthians 14:1) to display the love of God to others. We are to use what we have, to bear much fruit for His kingdom, rather than aspiring for more while lying idle with no results.
The specific identity of an anointed person – Lord Jesus under the anointing of God, ‘went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, FOR GOD WAS WITH HIM’ (Acts 10:38). Prophet Samuel anointed David ‘in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward’ (1 Samuel 16:13). Apostle Paul confirms further that we do not have the ‘Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7). In this power David, despite being only a teenager, could challenge and kill Goliath the giant. Annas, the High Priest, and other Jewish leaders tried to stop Apostles Peter and others from preaching the Gospel to the Jews. But Apostles Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge’ (Acts 4:19). They could fearlessly say this under the anointing. Apostle Paul was anointed by Lord Jesus and ‘even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them’ (Acts 19:12). The power that works in and through a believer is not his own but of the Holy Spirit.
Since anointing is equipping for obeying the calling from God, an anointed person displays certain characteristics. A changed life, for anyone in Lord Jesus is a ‘new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); a strong prayer life with a deep desire for continuous spiritual connection with God’. AS a result there is an earnest longing for knowing the LORD God by meditating on the Scriptures day and night. A life submitted to the Lord to live for Him using time and resources to serve His cause; more accessible and helpful to people; visible fruits of the Holy Spirit through changed overall character. The anointed minister to others using all Spiritual gifts; discernment of truth and the evil spirits; encouraging others with Scriptures and are used by God to win souls through a growing ministry.
It takes extra efforts to reach with the Gospel message; one becomes humble, teachable and ready for correction. The traits of integrity, compassion, mercy and love, the godly traits automatically become visible in his/her life. Finally one becomes more and more prayerful and God dependent. The anointing ‘from the Holy One’ results in knowing all things for (1 John 2:20). Lord Jesus has blessed us with the glory that He received from the Father, He has given to us (John 17:22) as a special gift of our anointing.
On the one hand we are one in Spirit with the Father in the Son of God and on the other oneness is with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Anointing equips us for all spiritual battles against the forces of evil and this is the true identity of a life lived under the anointing of God. A believer being part of God’s family is anointed in the manner of the Son of God for works of His heavenly kingdom. Since we are surrounded all around on the earth with the kingdom of devil, our anointing helps us to meet all challenges we may face here. This is not the right of a believer but the work of the Father’s grace and mercy to enable us to walk in obedience and in close relationship with Him!