Anointed One

Scripture: Psalm 23:5c – you anoint my head with oil

(Also: 1st Samuel 16:1-13; Mark 1:9-11 and Mark 14:3-9)

 

Title: Anointed One

 

Structure:

  • Introduction
  • David’s Anointing
  • Jesus’ Anointing
  • Conclusion

 

Introduction:

I remember when I was in Standard 1 (which in today’s terms is Year 3)

–         It was the end of the year (the last day of school in fact) and I was asked to go and see the Principal

–         When I arrived I was told that I would be getting an award at the school prize-giving

–         From my point of view it was completely unexpected

–         I had struggled at school that year and the teacher (Mrs Smith) had worked hard to get me up to speed with the others

–         She acknowledged the progress I had made by recommending me for the most improved student of the year

 

It might not seem like a big deal now, but at the age of 7 it was a huge encouragement to me

–         To be chosen for this award, out of a class of 30 students, made me feel valued and it empowered me, in a way, to keep improving

 

I invite you now to take a few moments to think of a time when someone made you feel valued or touched your heart (in a good way)

–         Perhaps, like me, you were singled out for a special award

–         Or perhaps you were selected for a rep team

–         Or were a guest in someone’s home and the host went out of their way to make you feel especially welcome

–         Or maybe your boy-friend bought you flowers

–         Or one of your parents told you they were proud of you

–         Or perhaps you were sick once in hospital and someone famous (like an All Black) came to visit you

–         Or someone went the extra mile to help you

–         It could be big or small, anything that touched your heart and made you feel valued

–         You can contemplate that on your own or you can talk about it with someone nearby, whatever you feel comfortable doing

–         I’ll give you a minute or two

 

[Wait]

 

Okay, very quickly – would one or two people like to share something that touched their heart and made them feel valued? [Let people share]

–         Thank you for sharing those memories

 

Today we continue our series on Psalm 23 – a song attributed to King David

–         The message of Psalm 23 as a whole is: the Lord is my security.

 

So far we have covered the first four and a bit verses…

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside still waters

He restores my soul

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil

For you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me

 

David’s Anointing:

Today we continue verse 5…

 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

 

I’ve underlined the third part (…you anoint my head with oil…) because that’s what we will be focusing on today

–         But I wanted to show you the whole verse to give the context

 

As we noticed last time, with this verse David changes the metaphor

–         Up till the end of verse 4 the metaphor is a shepherding one – with the Lord caring for David like a shepherd caring for a sheep

–         But now (in verse 5) the metaphor changes to that of a host and his guest

–         The Lord is both a good shepherd and a generous host to David

 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of his enemies, refers to God taking the role of a servant and preparing a meal for David

–         God honours David by publicly identifying with him as a friend in front of David’s enemies

–         And part of God’s hospitality to David includes anointing his head with oil

 

On the wall here we have an ancient Egyptian painting of women at a banquet, all with a cone of scented oil on their heads

–         At a party the host might offer his guests a cone of oil like this

–         Our friend Kenneth Bailey notes how the body heat of the guest would melt the cone slowly so the perfumed oil gradually ran down her body throughout the evening [1]

–         We might think this a bit strange or uncomfortable but back in the day it was a way of welcoming the guest so they felt honoured and valued

 

When David says in verse 5, you anoint my head with oil, he probably means something like…

–         Lord, you welcome me as an honoured guest – you make me feel valued

 

I wonder too though if David may have had another kind of anointing in mind

–         Earlier in the service we read the passage from 1st Samuel 16 where God instructs the prophet Samuel to go to a man named Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be king

–         God doesn’t tell Samuel in advance which son it will be – he basically says, “I will let you know when you get there”

–         God is like that – he doesn’t usually lay the whole plan out all at once

–         He just gives us one step at a time

 

When Samuel arrives in Bethlehem (where Jesse lived) he tells the town’s elders and Jesse’s family to purify themselves for a sacrifice

–         Offering sacrifices often involved eating part of the beast with others – so there was table fellowship involved

 

Before the sacrifice is offered each of Jesse’s seven eldest sons is brought before Samuel, but God rejects them all

–         “Man looks at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart”, is what the Lord says

–         God is interested on the inside more than the outside, in other words

–         So Samuel asks Jesse if he has any other sons

–         “There is still the youngest but he’s out taking care of the sheep”

 

Although he isn’t named at first, the youngest is David

–         Why isn’t David present?

–         Is it that he’s not considered that important by his family?

–         Or is it that he enjoys the solitude that shepherding allows?

–         Whatever the reason it seems strange that God didn’t arrange for David to be there when Samuel turned up

–         David’s absence meant that Samuel had to find out the hard way

–         Seven sons were rejected before the right one was even considered

 

God’s ways are not our ways

–         We think in terms of time management and efficiency and productivity

–         But the Lord is in no hurry – he will take the long way if it suits him

–         God makes everyone wait for David

 

It would have taken some time to wait too

–         No cell phones back then

–         Someone would have had to go and find David out back, who knows where, and then David would have to make the return journey on foot

–         All these important people: Samuel, the town elders, David’s father and older brothers, all waiting for their junior

–         All waiting for God and his salvation

 

When Samuel finally saw David, verse 12 tells us, The Lord said to Samuel, “This is the one – anoint him”. Samuel took the olive-oil and anointed David in front of his brothers.

From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. 

 

David’s anointing is associated with receiving God’s Spirit

–         So in this context anointing means being chosen and empowered for a special task – that of kingship

–         The text of Samuel 16 doesn’t say how David felt but if Psalm 23 is anything to go by then David’s heart was touched and he was made to feel highly valued as God honoured him publicly

 

In some ways this is like a Cinderella story

–         You know Cinderella, whose step mother and step sisters made her do all the work and wouldn’t let her go to the ball

–         Then Cinderella’s fairy god mother turned up and anointed her (so to speak) with a beautiful dress, glass slippers and a carriage

–         David is sort of like Cinderella – out the back working with the sheep

–         No one thought he should go to the ball

 

Cinderella did in fact go to the ball but had to leave in such a hurry that one of her glass slippers came off

–         The prince then used this slipper to try and find Cinderella.

–         Whoever’s foot fitted the slipper was the one

–         Jesse’s seven eldest sons didn’t fit the slipper

–         God looks at the heart – at the inside of a person

–         Is the inside right to receive his Spirit?

–         David’s heart – his inner core where decisions are made – was right

–         David’s heart was the perfect fit for God’s Spirit

 

Jesus’ Anointing:

Messiah is the Hebrew word for ‘anointed one’

–         While Christ is the Greek equivalent

–         Christ & Messiah mean the same thing:

–         Someone chosen and empowered by God for a special task

 

We Christians refer to Jesus as the Messiah (or the Christ) because we believe him to be the one anointed by God as prophet, priest and King

–         Jesus is the ultimate anointed one

 

It was immediately following his baptism that Jesus was anointed with God’s Spirit

–         God was choosing & empowering Jesus for a special task – that of saving the world

 

And as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, like a dove, he heard the words from heaven…

–         “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you.”

–         I imagine this touched Jesus’ heart and made him feel valued for who he was and not just for what he did

–         I expect it was a treasured moment in Jesus’ memory – one he returned to for strength during times of trial and temptation

 

Please turn with me now to Mark chapter 14 – page 66 toward the back of your pew Bibles

–         Not only was Jesus anointed with God’s Spirit at the beginning of his ministry

–         He was also anointed with perfume (by a woman) at the end of his ministry. From Mark 14, verse 3, we read…

 

Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head.

 

Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, “What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” And they criticized her harshly.

 

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me. She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial. Now, I assure you that wherever the gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

 

The comic book hero, Captain America, wasn’t always tall and strong (like this guy on the wall)

–         He started out short in stature and skinny – a bit of a runt physically speaking

 

The story goes that the army were looking for someone they could transform into the ultimate soldier

–         Some in the army were only interested in external qualities, like physical strength and agility

–         Others were more interested in internal qualities, like courage, integrity and character

–         During the training, as a test, one of the officers throws a dummy grenade among the men

 

The skinny, runty guy who dived on the dummy grenade to save others (thinking it was real) was Captain America, before he was transformed

–         Not much to look at from the outside, but the right kind of heart on the inside

 

In Mark 14 Jesus is enjoying the hospitality of Simon, a former leper

–         Simon had been a social outcaste but it appears Jesus had healed him

–         It is in the context of this table fellowship (while Jesus is eating) that a woman (who shall remain nameless) comes in with a jar of nard

–         A very expensive perfume with a street value of one year’s wages

–         Based on the minimum wage in NZ today – that equates to at least $32,000. It was very expensive stuff

 

More than just its monetary value though the perfume may well have been a family heirloom – passed on from mother to daughter

–         It is difficult to imagine something more valuable

 

By breaking the jar the woman is committing the whole thing to Jesus

–         She isn’t just pouring out a few drops or even half the jar, saving some for herself – she is giving the whole amount to Jesus

–         Like diving on a grenade it was a total commitment

–         Now that the jar is broken and the contents poured on Jesus’ head she has no financial security should she fall on hard times

 

It is an incredible act of faith and sacrifice

–         The woman is a lot like Captain America, before he was transformed

–         Not much in the eyes of others but a brave & unselfish heart on the inside

 

She has given her past and her future to Jesus

–         Jesus sees her heart and values her courage & faith

–         No one has asked her to do this and no one expects her to do it

–         She does this of her own freewill as an act of love and devotion

–         Not to get anything out of Jesus – but simply because he’s worth it

 

Sadly, not everyone sees Jesus the way she does

–         They criticise her harshly

–         Thinking in terms of productivity and efficiency they say, “What a waste. This perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor”

 

But Jesus’ ways are not our ways

–         Jesus’ heart is touched by this woman’s brave and generous act, so he comes to the woman’s defence

–         “You will always have the poor with you and you can help them whenever you want – but you won’t always have me”

–         Jesus seems to be pointing out the lack of integrity shown by the woman’s critics

–         If they really cared about the poor they would do more for the poor on a daily basis

–         And if they really cared about Jesus they wouldn’t see it as a waste

 

What the woman did was a prophetic act – although she may not have been aware of it

–         Jesus was like that alabaster jar of nard

–         A bit rustic looking on the outside perhaps, but extremely valuable and sweet smelling on the inside – (it’s the inside that counts with God)

–         Just as the jar was broken and the contents poured extravagantly on Jesus’ head – so too Jesus’ life & Spirit would be poured out in total commitment for the salvation of many

–         God’s extravagant gift to humankind

 

Jesus points people to the meaning of her generous action saying: “She poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial”

–         As it turned out, after Jesus’ death on the cross, there wasn’t time to anoint his body with perfume or spice

–         It was all Joseph of Arimathea could do to wrap Jesus’ body in cloth and lay it in a tomb before the Sabbath started

 

Conclusion:

You anoint my head with oil… means:

–         To be welcomed and accepted by God as an honoured guest

–         To have your heart touched and made to feel truly valued

–         Being anointed by God also means being chosen and empowered with God’s Spirit for a special task

 

Returning to the Egyptian painting we showed you earlier

–         One thing we notice here is that all the guests are anointed with a cone of scented oil on their heads

–         Not just one or two – but all the guests

 

It was God’s plan all along that everyone who accepted his invitation (his hospitality) would receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit

 

After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to heaven the disciples receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

–         They are empowered for the special task of telling the good news about Jesus

 

In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter (empowered by God’s Spirit) quotes the prophet Joel, saying…

 

The Lord says: “This is what I will do in the last days. I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions and your old men will have dreams.

 

Yes, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will proclaim my message…

 

…And whoever calls out to the Lord will be saved

 

God invites everyone to his table – but not everyone accepts his invitation

–         We accept God’s invitation by accepting Jesus

–         God welcomes those who accept Jesus by treating them as an honoured guest, anointing them with his Holy Spirit

–         If you are willing to receive Jesus in faith then your heart is the right fit for God’s Spirit

 

Let us pray…

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Kenneth Bailey, ‘The Good Shepherd’, page 58.

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