The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as the WAY. This teaching became the final interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah (Messiah = Anointed One). The Way became the enlightened transitional teaching in the early church.
This article focuses on the anointing of Jesus (see also, The Way-Gideon).
The Baptizer had already become famous throughout Israel. John preached the basic Essene message of individual repentance for the people but Israel as a nation. National repentance includes the removal of the current Temple Priests, the Sadducees. His message also included repenting from Pharisaic legalism*, and he chastised the scribal authority, those scribes who followed the legalistic approach to attain righteousness. John denounces Herod the Idumean and Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife. He attacks Sadducaic Temple authority and the rule of law imposed by the Pharisees. He tells the multitudes there is a sinful stain upon the nation (Mt. 3.7).
*Cleansing and purity laws and prayers; therein, the diminishment of the spiritual ethos.
John’s emphasis between dark and light and the choice between the two continues as a theme in John’s ministry: repentance must arrive as a change in thinking. This change in thinking is later reflected by Jesus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again [second birth, awakened], he cannot see the kingdom of God,” as is spoken to Nicodemus in Jn. 3.3. John preaches for a conversion that can only occur by a change in whole, the conversion of consciousness Jesus later begins to teach. Thought change will always remain the fundamental element within conversion. The genuine repentance pathway always unfolds from within.
John points to Jesus as Messiah.
John’s broader ministry planted a spiritual standard. All matters of consequence, whether good or bad, will first have a standard planted— ‘Here is where I stand and what I stand for!’ John’s message moves past the strict standards of law and asserts revelatory and prophetic speaking.*
[*Baptism from teacher to acolyte was the usual practice upon entering a new sect. If we look at the roots of John’s early ministry, immersion represents the cleansing of the old mind and the establishment of a renewed mind. For a religious order to become established this change must take place. The baptismal is intended to initiate the new man, a man with a different view of the world, himself, and God.
Previous prophets also administered the religious calling of the repentance message. 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.]
John’s omnibus message moves from ritual (sacrifice), an outward demonstration, to a change in thinking (inward) as preparation for Messiah. For the people of Israel, direct preparation for Messiah is a radical change in thinking compared to waiting and wondering when Messiah will come. John’s baptism initiates expectancy and preparedness for change—enter into the baptismal, participate in hastening Messiah! This message 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 light which manifested, and by those observing, this experience would have been a witnessing no one would forget.
*The Complete Jewish Study Bible
The Way emphasizes being confirmed within ministry (John) and that anointing is a supreme blessing (Jesus), and that we follow in John and Jesus’ footsteps. Jesus formed his first ministry in Capernaum, where others knew him. He did not begin in a place barren to him, such as Jerusalem.
For those who grasped the meaning, the power of the anointing would be overwhelming. People were expecting the Messiah.
A person may pray for guidance as to his calling, and the spirit may convict by witnessing from within or demonstrating without. Pentecost anointed 5,000 (without), but how many during Jesus’ ministry received the witnessing quietly (within)? How many converted by having seen healing, mercy, or from the word of Jesus’ preachments?
An anointing is a weightier confirmation of an individual’s calling, especially concerning service, teaching, or ministry. The anointing itself may occur before or during a person’s ministry. A person can sow seed for the spirit to reveal his life mission or may ask to be blessed within a specific discipline. As you proceed in the Way be willing to adjust to the spirit working within your calling.
News concerning the anointing would spread into Jerusalem within days. Some would travel through smaller villages on the way home, quickly welling up excitement. Others would ask, was this anointing the provocative move of a resurgent religious order? The Pharisees, in particular, would carefully watch.
For the religious hierarchy, 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 Jesus’s ministry spreads those concerns would continue to mount. The Herodian faction, Pharisees* who supported Herod, crank up added heat. Herod’s connection to the Sanhedrin remains tightly bound. His power base remained with Sadducaic Temple power, wealth, and with Rome.
*Some scholars believe the Herodians to be Qumran Essene. In another view, the Herodians favored Greek custom and counseled with the Pharisees (Mk. 3.6). More research might be required to pin this down. Anyone?
Now the clash in consciousness occurs. 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.