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).
When Jesus arrives the Baptizer had already become famous throughout Israel. John preaches the basic Essene message of repentance. John’s emphasis between dark and light and the choice between the two is a continued theme in Jesus’s ministry (Lk. 12.3; Jn. 8.12, 12.35, 12.46). John denounces Herod the Idumean, and Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife. He attacks 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).
Repentance must arrive as a change in thinking. “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, reflects this change in thinking and the conversion of consciousness Jesus later begins to teach. Thought change will always remain the fundamental element within conversion. The true repentance pathway always unfolds from within.
John points to Jesus as Messiah.
In carrying his message forward, John’s broader ministry established a ‘spiritual place,’ planting a 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.* He condemns the Sadducees, who would prefer to remain as the Temple Priests. He condemns the legalistic Pharisees as well. John preaches an understanding newly revealed to the people, that of the Nazarenes and the principles of the Way, and the message of the coming Messiah.
[*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 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 of resisting—the baptismal is intended to initiate the new man with a different view of the world.
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 for the land of Israel moves from ritual (sacrifice) to a change in thinking as preparation for Messiah. For the people of Israel, direct preparation for Messiah is a huge change in thinking compared to waiting and wondering when Messiah will come. John’s baptism initiates expectancy combined with 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
For those who grasped the meaning, the power of the anointing would be overwhelming. People were expectant of the Messiah.
A person may pray for guidance as to his calling, and the Spirit may convict by witnessing from with or demonstrating without. Pentecost anointed 5,ooo (without), but how many during Jesus’ ministry received the witnessing from within? How many converted by having seen healing, mercy, or from the word of Jesus’ preachments? Anointing is a weightier confirmation of an individual’s calling, especially to serve, teach, or minister. God can confirm a person’s calling from both within and without. The anointing may occur before or during a person’s ministry.
Be willing to test and go slowly at first, for it will be you who has to adjust to the spirit working within your calling, or further anointing. Jesus did not begin in Jerusalem, he began where others knew him and thus formed his first ministry in Capernaum. A person can sow seed for the spirit to reveal his life mission, or may ask to be blessed within a specific discipline. Confirmation is important.
News concerning the anointing would spread into Jerusalem within days. Some people at the anointing 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.
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.
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 Sadducee Temple’s 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.
Gracus, the Roman procurator preceding Pilot, appoints Caiaphus as the high priest. As the story unfolds, the Sanhedrin dispatches Nicodemus 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.