The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as the WAY. This teaching became the final interpretation on the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah (Messiah = Anointed One). The Way became the transitional teaching into the early church. Many principles of the Way are included in modern religious thought, many are not.
This article focuses on the anointing of Jesus (see also, The Way-Gideon).
When Jesus arrives, John’s ministry had already become famous throughout Israel. John preaches the basic Essene message of repentance. His emphasis between dark and light and the choice between the two is a continued theme in the Jesus ministry as well (Lk. 12.3; Jn. 8.12, 12.35, 12.46). John denounces Herod the Idumean, and Herod’s marriage to his own brother’s wife. He denounces Sadducaic Temple authority as well as the rule of law imposed by the Pharisees. He tells the multitudes there is a “sin stain” upon the nation (Mt. 3.7).
John points to Jesus as Messiah
In carrying his message forward John’s broader ministry opens by establishing ‘spiritual place’, planting a standard. Although he does not seem in conflict with his celibate Qumran Essene brothers, his message begins to move past the strict standard of law and moves into a revelatory and prophetic speaking.* Concerning the Qumran Essene priesthood (scribes and lawyers), it is they who would expect to be catapulted into ascendancy. As to the Sadducees, they would prefer to remain as the Temple Priests, but John condemns them. The Pharisees fair no better. John will confirm none, but instead preaches the coming Messiah.
*Baptism from teacher to acolyte was the usual practice upon entering a new rabbinic teaching or new sect. If we look at the roots of John’s early ministry, the immersion represents the cleansing of the old mind and the establishment of new mind.* For a new religious order to become established this renewal must take place. John’s repentance message refers to a change in thinking, and not just bad habits to resist– the baptismal is performed to initiate a different way of looking at the world.
* Repentance was a known religious element espoused by previous prophets. Good references are found in Jer. 18.8-11, Jeremiah’s speaking on God’s power in judging nations– evil for evil and good for good– with repentance the pivotal issue. Joel 2.13, tells us to repent of evil and receive the blessing of a merciful God, much like the John the Baptist message. Jonah 3, especially verse 10, wherein God sees the penitent works of Nineveh, and repents of the retribution to be levied.
Repentance must arrive as a change in thinking. Thought-change will always remain as the most basic element within conversion. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again (awakened), he cannot see the kingdom of God,” as is spoken to Nicodemus in Jn. 3.3, reflects this change in thinking, and also reflects the conversion of consciousness Jesus begins to teach. John’s omnibus message for the land of Israel is focused on repentance, this change in thinking as preparation for Messiah. The true repentance pathway always unfolds from within.
Direct preparation for Messiah is a big change in thinking compared to waiting and wondering when Messiah will come. John’s baptism should never be underrated, for his baptism initiates expectancy combined with preparedness for change. All should come and be baptized, all may participate in hastening Messiah, and this seems much of the fire, the urgency, as John continues to preach. Even as John stated in Matt. 3.3, he (John) is the voice crying out to “prepare the way of the Lord.” This is an obscure way to say that the Messiah will bring forth the final message, the final conversion. “While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened; the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you,’ ” Lk. 3.22.* No one could deny the godly light which manifested, and by those observing, this experience would have been a witnessing no one could forget.
*The Complete Jewish Study Bible
The power of the anointing would be overwhelming. God finally presents Himself in His final form. He is one within himself, but yields three different functions: Creator, as in Genesis; the Shekinah (feminine, ‘born’ again) who anoints, and the Son, who ministers and speaks the Word throughout God’s kingdom. To those who grasped the meaning of this anointing the shift in consciousness would have been not only ‘good news’, but news of an unbelievable kind. People were expectant for the Messiah, but no one expected such a powerful and light abounding presentation.
News concerning the anointing would spread into Jerusalem within days. Some of the people at the anointing would be traveling through smaller villages on the way to their home. The excitement would well up quickly. However, as seen by the religious hierarchy these actions would be viewed as the provocative moves of a resurgent religious order, perhaps a true revolution. It is here that the clash in consciousness occurs. Much later the people’s view differs from the hierarchical view, illustrated while Jesus is in Bethany, Mt. 21.46, “But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared for the multitudes, because they took him for a prophet.” By the time Jesus reaches Bethany, conversion by the people is well underway.
Was John’s more radical preachment signaling the return of a more active Essene priesthood? Was the anointing of Jesus the triumphal ascendancy of a new high priest? These would be disturbing questions for the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and as word of the Jesus ministry spreads concerns would continue to mount. Heat to this fire is added by the Herodian faction, Pharisees* who supported Herod. Although a minority group, but together with the Sadducees, Herod’s connection to the Sanhedrin remains tightly bound. His power base remained with Sadducee Temple wealth and with Rome.
*Some scholars believe the Herodians to be Qumran Essene.
Caiaphus had been appointed by Gracus, the Roman procurator preceding Pilot… and as the story continues, Nicodemus is dispatched from the Sanhedrin, this to monitor the Baptist ministry uproar, thence to discover Jesus. As to Nicodemus himself, he will later become an adherent to Jesus the Nazarene, the Jewish Messiah.