This morning, we’re learning about, and prayerfully experiencing in a new way, the anointing of God.

In the literal sense, anointing is not really anything all that interesting or exciting.  To anoint is just to smear or to spread a liquid onto.  We anoint our bread with butter.  We anoint our dry skin with lotion.  We anoint our deck with stain.

However, there is far, far more significance behind God’s anointing than just physically getting some scented oil smeared on us!  In fact, Jesus is the long awaited Messiah.  Messiah literally means, you may have guessed it, “anointed one.” Also, Christ is not Jesus’ last name. It’s a title which means, you may have guessed it, “anointed.”  Jesus is the Anointed One!  What does this mean, though?

Luke 4:14-21

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written (chapter 61):

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The ministry that Jesus did to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, raising the dead, casting out demons, feeding thousands, and so much more, He did through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. 

This is re-affirmed when Peter is called to a Gentile’s home to share the news about Jesus with Cornelius and a group of his relatives and close friends.  Peter said:

Acts 10:37-38;44-46

37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

The anointing of the Holy Spirit empowers the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives.  There is a difference between the anointing and the giftings of the Holy Spirit.  They work together, but they are not the same thing.  Just as a car has an engine and a transmission that work together to become the drive train and to make our car move, so are the anointing and the gifting of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 11:29

God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

God freely gives us natural gifts that we were created with even before we are saved.  God also freely gives us spiritual gifts after we are saved.  God calls us to go into different places in order to put those gifts to use to serve others.  God’s gifts and God’s call are irrevocable.

However, we can use the gifts that God gives us using our own power. 

I can shift my car’s transmission into neutral and push it around everywhere on my own power or I can turn on the car’s engine and allow it to power my car’s transmission.

Too many people have been gifted by God, but do not know how to operate those gifts using the power that comes from the anointing of God.  Instead, they still use these gifts in their own strength.  They quickly burn out and their gifting becomes a burden to them.  Operating in that gift only wears them out. 

Not only is it a burden, but it will eventually be despised and rejected and set aside.  Jealousy for other gifts will begin to replace the joy and fulfillment that we’re supposed to possess using our own gifts.

However, when that same gift is operated by the power of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, that same gift becomes fun to use and the burden becomes light.  We begin to seek out and to look for opportunities to put our gift into use serving others.  We lay down our head at night with an eagerness of what opportunities may present themselves tomorrow to operate within our gifts again!

Pushing a car on our own strength will wear us out and cause us to curse it.  We’ll only do it when we’re feeling up for it and when the journey is short and easy. 

Driving a car with the engine engaged?  Well, that’s a thrill!  The longer and the more challenging the drive, the greater the excitement!

In the Greek, the difference is just one letter.  Chrisma is the anointing of God, charisma is the gift of God.  Oh, but what a difference that one letter makes in our lives!  The anointing of God changes everything!

What do we typically use our gifts and abilities for here in ‘Merica?  What’s the American Dream?

To work hard and to make money, right?  Isn’t that our measure of success?  Jesus said:

Matthew 6:24

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Now the difference between serving God and serving money comes down to heart motive.  Just because we have money doesn’t mean that we are serving it.  Just because we are broke doesn’t mean that we’re serving God, either!

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

When our full heart motive is to use our gifts to serve Jesus, looking beyond our human bosses, then everything changes while nothing changes.  Our perspective is radically transformed even though our circumstances are the same.  When our heart motive is right, then we have positioned ourselves to receive the power that accompanies the anointing of God!  You are now serving the Anointed One and so now, the anointing can be released!

It is really difficult to explain with words, but there is a radical difference between doing something on your own and doing something under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

It’s kind of like this.  Picture yourself outside at the top of a hill on a 100 degree day with the sun beating down.  Before you is a steep hill going down into crystal clear, cold swimming pool.  You’re standing there in nothing but your bikini or speedo.  Between you and that pool is a long, black sheet of hot plastic.

Now, would you rather slide down that black sheet of plastic with it completely dry or would you rather slide down that black sheet of plastic with it saturated in a layer of chilled oil?

That’s the anointing of God!  You will get to that swimming pool either way.  However, it’s going to require far less effort, result in far less pain, and be far more enjoyable to slide down that plastic if it is anointed, right?

That is the difference between walking through this life on our own strength and walking through this life carrying the Presence of God that accompanies His anointing!

God chose physical anointing, the smearing on or spreading over of oil, as a symbolic way to express the spiritual reality.  God gave Moses a special blend of myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, cassia and to add those spices to olive oil and to use that to anoint priests and all of the objects used to serve God, even the tent of the meeting, itself.

Priests and kings and prophets were anointed as God directed.  Jesus sent out His disciples and instructed them to release healing by anointing people.

Mark 6:6-13

6 …Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

We’re still called today to have elders anoint those who are sick so that they might be healed and forgiven of any of their sins.

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

We physically anoint people with oil fully understanding that there is nothing “magical” about the oil, itself.  We do so in faith that it is God alone who is our healer and this symbolizes His Presence over and within that person’s life to release His healing and deliverance and protection and anything else that they need.  Physical anointing oil representing the reality of the spiritual anointing of the Holy Spirit!

Now again, back to heart motive.  It’s not wrong to desire the anointing of the Holy Spirit and to seek after it for ourselves.  We need to recognize our own need for it and we should desperately desire it.

However, a container that just wants to be filled for the sake of being full is completely missing the purpose for which it exists.  Containers are designed and created for the purpose of being filled up only so that it can be emptied back out.  A container is a temporary place of storage.

We are containers purposed for the Presence of God.  We are containers purposed to get filled up so that we can go out into the world and empty ourselves.  It is a constant take and give.  Jesus went out and spent time alone with the Heavenly Father to get filled up, then hung out with sinners to pour Himself out into their lives.

If our discipleship is just filling up other people’s minds with knowledge about God and His word, then we are failing them!  If our discipleship makes us look smart so that people run to us for answers, then we are failing miserably!  That is making disciples of ourselves and not disciples of Jesus.

True discipleship is running together to the storehouse of God’s Kingdom to get filled up and then back out into the world to empty ourselves into the lives of others to meet their needs.  Knowledge about God and His word is only a part of that process.  A critical part, but still only a part.  Jesus didn’t start up a school and teach classes.  His life was a lesson and a manifested encounter of God’s Power and Presence.

Does our anointing look like this?  Do we count the cost or do we generously pour it out?

Matthew 26:6-13/Luke 7:36-50/John 12:1-8

Six days before the Passover, Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper whom was a Pharisee.  A woman named Mary in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume; a pint of pure nard. She was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the grave. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii (daily wage of a day laborer), and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”  Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Every day, we have an opportunity to receive the empowering anointing of the Holy Spirit.  What will we choose to do with it?

Will we be like the disciples?  Counting the cost and figuring out what we think is the best use of it?

Will we be like Simon?  Disgusted by the “sinners” around us and trying to keep ourselves separated from the world?

Will we be like Mary?  Paying no attention to what those around us think about us and selflessly pouring out our everything for Jesus?