Last week we celebrated Christmas, and the coming of the
Christ Child, the Savior promised by God to bring hope, joy, love and peace to
Christmas often brings with
it thoughts and images of family gatherings around a dinner table with turkey
and dressing and sweet potatoes and all sorts of other wonderful food.
All of the children can’t wait to show off
their favorite gift that Santa left under the tree.
And all is right with the world, because
everyone overflows with genuine love for each other, even love for the nerdy
There are many, many people who look forward Christmas as
their favorite time of year.
many know someone whose tree was a little thin on the gifts this year?
Whose family gathering was tense because of
table had one less chair than previous years?
Or whose reality failed to meet what they expected Christmas ought to be?
The Bible passage of Isaiah 61:1-3
is a prophecy, a promise from God,
that He will send someone to give us something better.
The “something better” – better than even the
best Christmas you could have – is Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
In fact, the name “Christ” or “Messiah” means
At the beginning of
Jesus’ ministry on earth he stood up in the synagogue, opened a scroll and read
the words from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has anointed
Well, in short, to be “anointed”
means you are set apart and empowered by the Holy Spirit for a particular
purpose for God and God’s kingdom. When we ordain and install deacons and elders
we lay hands on them, and pray for God’s anointing on them, for His leading and
I am part of a team that
organizes retreats and Christian camps in Southern California.
At our retreats when a speaker comes forward
to deliver a message, the leaders also come forward to lay hands on him or her
and ask for God’s anointing on the speaker and the message.
When God’s anointing is on the speaker, God
gives him or her, the words to deeply touch the hearts of the people who are
When we are aware of God’s
anointing, the Holy Spirit takes what we’re doing and brings it to a higher
There is no gift better than
Jesus' anointing our lives; our ministry; our church; our anointed calling in
Jesus Christ had the anointing of the Spirit of the Lord
upon him like no one before, and like no one since Let’s take a closer look at how the work that
Jesus was anointed for, gives us something better in our lives:
I. Jesus was Anointed for proclaiming the good news A long-time friend of mine wrote a play about a character
from the Old West. After a couple of
years of research and writing, he was finally able to publish it on Amazon a
couple of months ago. Great news,
right? I thought so too, when I heard it
later from a mutual friend. But as good
as the news of this achievement was, it would have meant so much more to hear it
from the author himself, wouldn’t you agree?
During the days of Isaiah when the prophecy was given, God’s
people were living in exile, in a pattern of sin.
They had turned their backs on God,
worshipping and placing their trust in false gods.
Their actions put a separation between them
and the God that brought them out of slavery
in Egypt and into their own land.
in this separation, God still loved them and wanted to be in a relationship
with His people, but not in their sinful state.
Who better to send than Jesus – God in the flesh – to give us the good
news that through believing in him, and asking for and receiving forgiveness
for our sins, we can have a life in fellowship with the God who loves us!
We do not have Jesus physically here on earth
with us, but we have the next-best thing:
the Bible, God’s love letter to us.
II. Jesus was Anointed for helping the
brokenhearted Part of our nature as humans is to love and hope and dream.
To do these things is to share our heart, and that takes trust – trust that
your heart will be kept safe. But we
live in a broken world. Relationships
fail. Hopes shatter. Dreams lead to disappointment. When that happens the result is a broken
heart. I don’t know about you, but when
I’ve dealt with my own heartbreak, all I wanted to do was hide in a cave and
not come out, because I don’t know who or what to trust any more.
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How could you be so slow”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never did let go.”
Jesus wants to heal our hearts. He tells
us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in
me.” Trust involves letting go of our
hurts, so we can receive the “something better” that God wants to give us.
III. Jesus was Anointed for helping
those held captive become free Captivity can come in many forms. There are those who are held in prison, some
for many years or even a life sentence.
Or captivity can be extended illness, restricting your ability to get
out of your home. Or it may be a
metaphorical prison, such as living with guilt or shame. One of the worst forms of captivity is
because of circumstances you have absolutely no control over.
In 1985 Terry Anderson was the chief Mideast Correspondent,
based in Lebanon, for the Associated Press.
On March 16 of that year, after finishing a tennis game, Anderson was
kidnapped at gunpoint, placed in the trunk of a car, and taken to a secret
location known only to his captors.
was held hostage for nearly seven years.
For the first twenty-four days
he was chained to his cot, blindfolded.
Imagine being kidnapped by – you don’t know who – and held – you don’t
know where – chained and blindfolded for over three weeks, with just your
thoughts, mostly of your family and whether you will see them again.
I don’t know about you, but I’d go literally
crazy from that kind of agony!
before his kidnapping, Terry Anderson was an agnostic who was beginning to seek
He pleaded for a Bible, not knowing
what his Islamic captors would do.
In an interview after some time after his release, Anderson
says, “The next day, something thudded on my cot.
My chains were loosened; I sat up.
The blindfold was removed, but a blanket was
put over my head so I couldn’t see anything but the book on my lap.
It was a Bible, (hold up a pew Bible) the
Revised Standard Version, red cover.”
For the next seven years of his captivity, he scoured the Bible, book by
book, page by page, reading it probably 50 times.
Each time he found something new to sustain
Although he was not physically
free, Terry Anderson knew that through Jesus he had a freedom that nothing else
could give him.
In John chapter 6 Jesus was giving some teaching that many
followers found difficult, and many turned away and deserted him.
At that point, Jesus asked his disciples,
“Are you also going to leave?”
recognized Jesus offered something better.
He said, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give
believe, and we know you are the Christ – the Anointed One – the Son of God.”
IV. Anointed for
proclaiming God's favor We all have favorites.
A favorite movie – mine is “Finding Neverland”; or a favorite time of year – Autumn! A favorite pair of jeans … and it feels good
to be someone’s favorite. We might have
a favorite actor, or pastor, or athlete … or favorite friend. I actually have a t-shirt that says “Jesus
loves you, but I’m his favorite!”
Now, God does not have favorites – he loves everyone the
But there are times where it sure
feels like you’re the favorite.
remember when I was looking to change jobs. I was told I was good at what I
did, but I was not happy.
I was in a
position and a career track where the next step would be a promotion.
In fact at that time I was invited to apply
for positions that would be a step up.
After much prayer and input from many people who knew me well, I knew
that was not the course God wanted me to take.
I decided to find a position that was a step backward
It was not an easy
Besides the step down in income,
I was also concerned with what people might say about me taking a demotion as “something
But you know what?
I felt like I was really God’s favorite –
Opportunities came up at the perfect time, for the perfect job, for the perfect
office, and no one questioned why I was taking the step back.
In fact, there were many coworkers who told
me they admired me for doing it!
I believe that a big part of why I felt so favored was
because I was seeking the Lord’s guidance every step of the way.
But God’s favor isn’t only for when we make
It’s in the everyday
stuff as well.
When someone favors you,
they do things for you and give you special privileges they don’t give to
In Matthew 6, Jesus invites
us to look at God’s provision and beauty in the world around us.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not
sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
“See how the lilies of the field grow. They
do not labor or spin. 29
Yet I tell you that not
even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30
that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and
tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?”
God favors us so much that he offers us
something he does not offer any other beings, including Satan and the angels
that rebelled with him.
He offers us
salvation through Jesus Christ, even when we turned our backs on him.
For when we were still sinners, Christ died
--- for US!
For God so loved the world
that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but
have everlasting life.
For God did not
send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through
God favors us so much, he wants us
to spend eternity with him in heaven!
V. Anointed for comforting those who mourn We all remember the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook school
in Connecticut just two weeks ago. To
the town of Newtown this was their 9-11.
As a nation our hearts broke for the victims and their families, and for
the innocence lost. As we struggle to
make sense of it all, some might ask, “Where is God?”
When Lazarus died and Jesus arrived days later, Lazarus’
sister Mary fell at his feet, weeping. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother
would not have died.”
Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
Jesus wept too.
In times of loss, we do often question “why.”
Just as important – probably even more
important – than answers is just having someone who will come beside you, put
their arm around you, and allow you to simply grieve.
Did you know that God keeps track of our
sorrows? That our very tears are so important to God that he keeps them in a
bottle in heaven?
Psalm 34 tells us, “The
LORD is close to the brokenhearted
saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
God is right here
, right with
us, in the midst.
When our heart breaks,
God’s heart breaks just as much, or even more.