God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)
Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered Jesus as a miracle worker guided by the seventh chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “Miracle Worker.”
In our previous meeting, we’d agreed to assume that everyone would have read the chapter before the meeting and thus to limit our group study to a discussion of the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. Accordingly, we didn’t go through the chapter. However, since the first half of the chapter and first Reflect question were based on Tozer’s view that Jesus worked his miracles as a Spirit-anointed man rather than as the Son of God, we discussed that view before we discussed the Reflect questions. Here, though, since you haven’t read the chapter, I’ll summarize it before considering the Reflect questions.
After opening the chapter by quoting Acts 10:38 (see above), Tozer considers the anointing of Jesus and of us in two sections, the first without a title and the second called “The Anointing Is No Secret.”
The Significance of the Anointing
In the first half of this section, Tozer argues that Jesus didn’t work miracles in the strength of \his deity but in the strength of his Spirit-anointed humanity. In support of his claim, he quotes Acts 10:38 (quoted above). In our discussion of this view, we referred also to John 20:30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name,” and concluded that Jesus’s deity was also involved in his miracles.
In the second half of the section Tozer considers the significance of the anointing. He opens by referring to Hebrews 1:9, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (a quotation of Psalms 45:7; the writer of Hebrews applies it to the Son, Jesus). Then he explains that in the Old Testament men with special ministries‒priests, kings, and prophets‒were anointed with a specially prepared holy oil having a unique fragrance. Finally he asserts that when the Holy Spirit came in the New Testament His presence fulfilled that fragrance, supporting his assertion by quoting Acts 2:4; 4:31; 7:55; and 10:44.
The Anointing Is No Secret
I am suggesting‒indeed, I am stating‒that no one among us, man or woman, can be genuinely anointed with the Spirit and hope to keep it a secret. His or her anointing will be evident. (Jesus, page 68)
Tozer’s opening the chapter by quoting Acts 10:38 (see above) and asserting “If we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives, we should be able to do what Jesus, the Son of Man, was able to do in His earthly ministry” (Jesus, page 65) suggests that he thinks that Christians who are anointed by the Spirit should be able to work miracles. However he opens this section by suggesting that the evidence of a Christian’s being anointed by the Holy Spirit is changed behaviour.
Tozer then returns to Hebrews 1:9 (quoted above), saying that it indicates what kind of persons we must be to receive a full anointing from God‒lovers of righteousness and haters of wickedness. He closes the section and chapter by asserting:
It is our imperfection in loving the good and hating the veil that prevents us from receiving the Holy Spirit in complete measure. God withholds it from us because we are unwilling to follow Jesus in His great poured-out love for what is right and His pure and holy hatred of what is evil. (Jesus, page 70)
1. Why is it significant that Jesus, as a man, performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and not just of His own divine power?
We agreed that it is significant that Jesus, as a man, performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and not just of His own divine power because it implies that all Christians should be able to perform miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. However we observed that other conditions may apply, noting Mark 9:29, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting].” I noted that Tozer’s including “just” in the question indicates that, despite his affirmation that Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, he recognizes that Jesus’ divine power also played a part in them.
2. How does the New Testament depiction of Jesus differ from the way He is often portrayed in our world today?
We referred to Tozer’s saying, “When Jesus was on earth, He was not the passive, colorless, spineless person He is sometimes made out to be in paintings and literature. He was a strong man, a man of iron will. He was able to love with an intensity of love that burned Him up. He was able to hate with the strongest degree of hatred against everything that was wrong and evil and selfish and sinful.” (Tozer, Jesus, page 69)
3. How different would your life look if you received a fuller measure of the Holy Spirit?
This being a personal question, I won’t refer to our group discussion of it. However I will include my response to it in an earlier family study of the chapter, “If I were to receive a fuller measure of the Holy Spirit, I would manifest the fruit of the Spirit more consistently, would exercise some of the gifts of the Spirit, and would be a stronger witness of the Gospel.”
In that family study, one of the participants concluded her response to question 3 by saying, “In reading this chapter, my question is are only some people given the gift of healing, or was God’s plan that we should all have that ability‒and to what end?” I replied, “On the basis of 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, I think that only some people are given the gift of healing.”