Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus 1; Do you have the 'anointin'?

Have you ever been to an old fashioned southern church? You know the kind of place where you unable to stand still while you are worshiping the Lord. It is truly a full body experience. Billy Blank’s Tae-Bo has nothing on a worship gathering of this sort. Even during the preaching, people are moving and shouting. They would say that they have the anointin’ and that this force has taken over what is happening in the room. Now, I am not mocking church traditions that operate in this fashion and I am certainly not denying the power of the Holy Spirit flooding a church community (I happen to be a ‘closet charismatic’ myself), but simply drawing out the meaning of a word as I have seen it used in some Western contexts. This word would have meant something entirely different for Jesus and his followers in the First Century.

In chapter 1 of Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, Spangler and Tverberg explain a the word in the following way:

“Anointing a guest with oil was a common, expected act of hospitality (see Luke 7:46). But Mary’s use of a breathtakingly expensive vial of perfumed oil in John 12 made her action hint at the anointing of a king… By anointing him with expensive fragrances, Mary may well have been making a statement about who she believed Jesus was, proclaiming him as Messiah. In fact, the Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashiach, which literally means ‘the Anointed One.’” (16)

In chapter one we find ourselves in Mary and Martha’s home. Martha is busy cooking and preparing a feast when Mary begins to pour expensive oil at the feet of Jesus. The obvious interpretation Jesus clarifies by stating that this action is to prepare for his burial, but there are some actions in Scripture that the original audience would have understood without having been explained with words (do you agree with this statement?). This indicates that Jesus is King!

It reminds us of the anointed kings in the Hebrew Scriptures. Solomon, the authors point out, is placed on King David’s mule and escorted to Gihon when Zadok the priest anoints this King before all the people. This is similar to what happens after our episode in John’s narrative, which leads to Jesus being placed on a donkey and escorted into Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful king (sorry folks, this isn’t a story about how meek and humble Jesus was… it is about him being KING!).

The fragrance of Jesus would have followed him for days, and everyone who would have been in his vicinity would have recognized the scent of royalty. So, who is the one with the anointin’? Well, it is not his followers, at least not directly; it is Jesus himself. He alone can be the Anointed One. He alone is the King of Jerusalem and the Cosmos. According to Paul, we may not be the Anointed Ones, but we are the fragrance of his Messianic anointing (2 Corinthians 2).

Here are the questions at hand: Do you have the Anointed One and are you living as the aroma of his Kingly rule over the world? Also, does this interpretation from Spangler and Tverberg raise any new questions or insights for you? Can we appropriate interpretations like this even if they are not bluntly explained in the text?

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  • Hi Kurt,

    I like your expanded understanding of the so-called “anointing”. I want the fragrance of Jesus all the time, not just during a pentecostal church service. When I was a preacher, elder Roy asked me, “Do you believe in anointed preaching?” I said, “I guess so. What’s that Roy?” Roy said, “That’s when you get up without knowing what you’re going to say and the ‘anointing’ takes over and you preach in power!” I said, “Brother Roy, yes, I believe in anointed preaching. I ALSO believe in anointed sermon preparation!”

  • Dave… Welcome to the site. I hope you will continue to be a conversation partner of mine. Also, let me say that the Spirit honors deep preparation as you hint at. Good story, I have had that conversation with people at times as well. I think that both of these kinds of preaching have their place, but if we know that we are going to speak in advance, study time is the key way that God has crafted messages of mine that have made an impact on people. Blessings this resurrection sunday and may you be guided by the truly Anointed One this week and always…

  • Good post, Kurt. I’m enjoying this book myself. Quite a good read!

    Yes, this gave me a new perspective as well. Of course there’s more on anointing in Scripture. And I think C.S. Lewis’ naming of Christians as “little Christs” is apt in this connection.

  • Thanks for this post Kurt. I think that, as a whole, the church has dramatically misused the idea of anointing to be honest. Just claim to be ‘anointed by God’ and any heretical doctrine or insane way of living will be followed by some people. A sad commentary on the state of doctrine as whole in the church, since often people are never taught better.

    The ‘anointing’ of Jesus is very different indeed, and our mission should not be to try and outdo each other in grabbing for glory and claiming an anointed mission from God, but instead to make ourselves less as we point to the anointed, crucified, and resurrected King.

  • Ted, as always I appreciate your input. Great connection from CS Lewis!

    Mason, I agree with you completely. In everything we do, we must become less that he may become more! The kingdom is not a competition, but a call to submission to the truly Anointed One!

  • As we talk about aroma of The King, I’m reminded of the words in Acts 4 when Peter and John were recognized as men that had “been with Jesus” because of the power that came with these unschooled, ordinary men. I’ve read this passage multiple times and each time I pray that I may be one that carries the aroma of The King and am recognized as a man that has been with Jesus. Anything less would only be a satisfactory way of following Jesus.

  • Just stopping by, listening and taking in the conversation here.

    I think it is good to consider such things, even if they aren’t bluntly explained in the text. It’s part of the mystery of Christ, and it draws us closer to Him, as we search deeper into the Bible as if on a treasure hunt.

    I found a treasure here today, for I had never considered that he was covered in the scent of royalty.

    Thank you for that.

  • Kurt thank you for this post the book sounds interesting and a topic that would interest me.

  • Patty Sumner

    Kurt, just wanted to drop by and check out your blog. I have enjoyed the input you have put on a friends blog spot-Prodigal daughter. You have given her some great insight. I also have enjoyed your very intriguing blogs. I pray that in my life others may see Christ-the anointed one- as I walk daily with him through this journey or mission he has given to me. Continually in the Bible, when someone encountered Christ they were never the same. How can we be? I simply know this, when he came into my life, I could never and will never be the same. I hope that as he has touched and changed me. I too, may live a life that shows I have been in the presence of a King!