Who do you say that I am?
The "Anointed One"
Theme Verse: "Who do you say that I am?" Matthew 16:15
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-17, Luke 4:14-30, Luke 7:18-23, John 12:1-16
Optional: Luke 19:28-40
Memory Verse: "Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.'" Matthew 16:16(Pre-K to grade 3)
The name we are looking at today is "Messiah"(Hebrew), "Christ"(Greek) which means "Anointed One". It is necessary to look in the Old Testament to see what this means. Anointing describes the process of consecrating priests and kings. The ingredients for making "sacred anointing oil" are listed in Exodus 29 and 30. They were NOT to be used like ordinary oils and perfumes. There was a death penalty for using them for ordinary purposes! (Exodus 30:32-33) Kings and priests were to have a different smell. The scent of these perfumed oils lasted a long time. Guests were normally anointed with ordinary oil. Remember how the Wise Men brought gifts fit for a king which included frankincense and myrrh. Anointing oil and its fragrance was to be unique to the priests and kings who were anointed and set apart by God.
The kings were referred to as the Lord's anointed, "Here I stand in the presence of the LORD and his anointed." (1 Samuel 12:3). In 1 Samuel 10:1, Samuel anointed Saul as king and in 1 Samuel 16:1&13 Samuel anointed David to be king in the presence of his family. Remember how David when he was running for his life from King Saul, refused to kill Saul when he had a chance because he refused to lift his hand against God's anointed. David was prepared to wait for God's time to become the ruling king. (When our Bishop was murdered in Liberia, I remember the absolute scandal that was felt because he was God's anointed. (This was in a corrupt society too.)
A really important event takes place in 2 Samuel 7:1-17. After King David had "rest from his enemies", he decided it was time to build a temple, "a house", for God instead of the tent (Tabernacle) where God had been worshiped since the years in the wilderness. The prophet Nathan thought that was fine till God spoke to him that night and said David was not the one to build the temple BUT God promised to give David a "great name" and a "house" (dynasty/descendents) and a kingdom that would last forever! "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."(vs.16). King David went and sat before the LORD in awe and praise!
So the coming king, Anointed One, (Messiah, Christ) became part of the expectation and hope of Israel. Some terms referring to this "Anointed One"/Messiah/Christ were: "Son of David", "Root of Jesse", "Righteous Branch", "Servant of the Lord". Daniel 7 also refers to a king and kingdom that will never end. (vs. 13-14). "Son of Man" is the term used there.
Another important part of the hope and expectation for a Messiah was the idea that God was King over Israel. When the Israelites demanded a king like everybody else (!!) had, God told Samuel, "It is not you they have rejected as their king, but me." (1 Samuel 8:7) Psalm 22:3 refers to God as "enthroned on the praises of Israel".
Centuries later, by the time of Jesus the nation had been suffering from cruel foreign rulers and the idea of the Messiah had taken on strong political tones. A lot of people longed for their coming Messiah/King to be like David and drive out the hated Romans. Even after the resurrection but before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the Kingdom to Israel. This idea about the Messiah was an important reason Jesus sometimes told people not to tell others. The Jewish leaders used this idea of a worldly conqueror to accuse Jesus before Pilate. They said, he "claims to be Christ, a king." Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king and Jesus replies, "Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?" (John 18:33-34) and in vs.36 Jesus says, "My kingdom is not of this world". Then Pilate decides Jesus is innocent but Pilate is afraid they will report him to Caesar. He gives in but puts a sign over Jesus' cross, "The king of the Jews" (19:19) (as his excuse).
Some of the "Servant Songs" of Isaiah had other ideas about what the coming Messiah would be like, like the one Jesus read in Nazareth. Of course there is Isaiah 53 about the Suffering Servant. After Jesus' baptism (and being anointed with the Holy Spirit) (Matthew 3:13-17) and after his testing in the wilderness, he went to his home town, Nazareth, where he was asked to read the Scriptures in the Synagogue. He chose to read from Isaiah 61:1-2 which talks about God's anointing: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me" (vs.18 ). Look at the kinds of things he is anointed to do--miracles of healing and preaching good news. (Compare Acts 2:22).
Now look at what Jesus said and did when John the Baptist was in prison and had begun to doubt whether Jesus was the promised Messiah or not. Look at Luke 7:18-23. Jesus healed many diseases, delivered some from evil spirits, raised the dead and good news was preached to the poor!
Now reflect on some questions the Lord has given the teachers about Isaiah 61:1-3
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me," (Isaiah 61:1a) A word received: I received the anointing of the Holy Spirit and I want you to receive the anointing of my Holy Spirit.
Have you asked for this?
"Because the Lord has anointed me" (Isaiah 61:1b) A word received: My father anointed me for this ministry; I want to anoint you for ministry.
Are we ready to ask and receive this calling and anointing?
"To preach good tidings to the poor;" (Isaiah 61:1c) A word received: The poor are all around you: those poor in purse and poor in spirit. Share the good news with all of them.
How are we doing with this command of Jesus? Remember the Great Commission. How might Jesus want you and me to do this?
"He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted," (Isaiah 61:1d) A word received: Comfort, comfort my people.
The root meaning of comfort is to strengthen.
"To proclaim liberty to the captives," (Isaiah 61:1e) A word received: I want to bring those who are captive to sin and addiction into the freedom of my Spirit.
Do you have an example to share of being set free from one of these captivities?
"And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;" (Isaiah 61:1) A word received: Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be lifted up you everlasting doors; that the King of Glory may enter in. (From Psalm 24)
What kind of bondages does Jesus want to break? Have we brought those bondages to the cross of Jesus, repented of them, given them to Jesus and asked for his saving work???
"To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," (Isaiah 61:2a) A word received: Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.
Do we procrastinate about obeying the call/invitation of the Lord? What other time do we have besides NOW?
"And the day of vengeance of our God;" (Isaiah 61:2b) A word received: There will be a day when I settle accounts.
God is patient but he will deal with unrepented sin and evil. Keep short accounts with God. See John 12:47-48
"To comfort all who mourn," (Isaiah 61:2c) A word received: I want you to speak words of comfort to those who mourn.
Do we hang back or reach out to those who mourn for whatever reason?
"To console those who mourn in Zion," (Isaiah 61:3a) A word received: Pray for all those who mourn.
Finally, look at the story of the anointing at Bethany and the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem just days before Jesus' passion. Six days before Passover his friends in Bethany gave Jesus a dinner. Mary took a pint (a pint!-very expensive stuff!) of pure nard and anointed Jesus' feet. Jesus says in John 12:7 that she was anointing him for his burial. The book by En-Gedi, "Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus" is all about understanding more of the Jewish background of Jesus in the first century. Many things changed in later Judaism. Many things would have been common knowledge and didn't need any comment to be understood by everyone. As we saw earlier, those expensive special perfumes were reserved for anointing kings and priests. "By anointing him (Jesus) with this expensive fragrance, Mary may well have been making a statement about who she believed Jesus was, proclaiming him as Messiah."(pg.16). In ancient Israel the aroma of a king was expressed not only by what he wore but by his royal aroma.
The next day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the ordinary people hailed him: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38 ) which hugely upset the religious leaders. Also there is a prophecy in Zechariah 9:9: "See your king comes to you , righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey". (A king on a donkey was peaceful. Horses were for war.) When Solomon was made king he rode to his anointing on David's own mule. (1 Kings:38-40) Jesus was not only entering as a king but he smelled like one!
What does it mean to call God "King"? What does it mean to recognize Jesus as our King? Peter announced in his sermon on Pentecost that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ! (Acts 2:36)
Note: "Lord" means one who has both power and authority and can be used for human beings. "LORD" is a way the Jewish people avoided using the holy personal name of God ("I AM").