The anointing

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. (Mar 1:12–3a)

Tempted

Mark only gives us brief details of our Lord's temptation in the wilderness, but Luke tells us that he was tempted for the full forty days he was there (Luk 4:1–2).

Matthew tells us that on one occasion Satan tried to lure him into sinning by quoting scripture (Mat 4:5–6). 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 are to avoid deception; and the only way we can do that is by reading it from Genesis to Revelation with the anointing of the Spirit (1Jo 2:26–7).

Anointed

Jesus entered the wilderness full of the Spirit (Luk 4:1), but after fasting for forty days returned in the power of the Spirit (Luk 4:14a). Fasting increases the anointing (empowering) of the Spirit on a ministry (Act 13:3).

News about him spread through the whole countryside (Luk 4:14b). 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 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 anointed with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and 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 Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

We saw in the first study in this series that the Hebrew word 'Messiah' and the Greek word 'Christ' both mean Anointed One. God had now anointed his Son (the Messiah, the Christ) with the Holy Spirit. Peter spoke about his anointing and the power that came from it in Act 10:37–8; and that same anointing and power is available to us.

Angels

He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him (Mar 1:13b).

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

Jesus was alone in the wilderness, but he wasn't alone. We may feel we're alone at times, but we're not alone. 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.

The time had come

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 has come near. Repent and believe the good news!' (Mar 1:14–5)

As John's ministry came to an end, our Lord's ministry began. He said that the kingdom of God had come near. It was near, physically, because Jesus (the King) had come to earth. And the time had come. People could now enter his kingdom by repenting and believing in him (Greek believe in, put one's faith in, trust in).

Call to discipleship

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 send you out to fish for people.' 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: a call to follow the One who is the way, the truth and the life; the One who alone could lead them to the Father (Joh 14:6). The Greek word translated 'disciple' in the New Testament denotes a committed learner and follower of a person: someone who makes the instruction of their teacher their rule of conduct.

Before he left them Jesus didn't tell his apostles to go and save people in all nations, but to go and make disciples of people in all nations, teaching them to obey everything he had commanded them (Mat 28:19–20). God's call to salvation is a call to discipleship.

The men Jesus called had been fishermen all their lives, but when he called them they left everything and followed him. We cannot follow Jesus physically because he is no longer with us on earth, but we can follow him spiritually by being led of his Spirit.

Jesus said that unless we give up everything we have we cannot be his disciples (Luk 14:33): to be disciples of Jesus Christ we have to give him everything and make him Lord of our lives.

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 1:21–2)

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.

Driving out demons

Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure 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 impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. (Mar 1:23–6)

Impure spirits are demons (Luk 4:33). The Greek word translated 'impure' means impure, unclean. It describes that which has not been cleansed by God and is sinful. They are also referred to as 'evil' spirits (Act 19:13) because of their nature.

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 do it privately: he did it 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 impure spirits and they obey him.' News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mar 1:27–8)

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 still as many of them around today as there were in Jesus' day, and Jesus and his disciples were driving them out wherever they went.

Two kingdoms

Why did Jesus drive the demon out of the man? The answer is given in Mat 12:24–8. In that passage 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 minds of people. Satan wants to indwell people to manifest his evil; God wants to indwell people to manifest his righteousness.

Jesus drove out demons by the Spirit of God:

'But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.' (Mat 12:28)

Earlier, he'd 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, that prayer is being answered because the kingdom of God is coming upon the earth.

No demon can come out of a person except by the Spirit of God, 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 told his disciples to do the same (Mat 10:5–8).

Michael Graham
October 2001
Revised September 2019

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised edition). Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved.

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