Last session (found here), we explored anointing. We looked at what it is and what happens as a result of it. Our focus passage again is verse one of Isaiah 61.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.” –Isaiah 61:1, ESV
We started with the why last time, seeking to understand the because before we try to understand the Who. Today it is time for the Who. Isaiah’s ink flows with words describing the coming Messiah. The people of Israel believed, or maybe hoped is a mores accurate word, that the Messiah would be a conquering ruler to overthrow the nations that held Israel captive. What they received instead was a Messiah who overthrew the sin that holds all people captive. The nations would come later, but Jesus prioritizes. More concerned about the security of a soul, He came first to save the people from sin. He will come again to reign in the kind of power the Israelites expected of Him the first time.
But it all started with anointing. using our same learning points from last time, let’s turn our eyes away from the reference texts and toward the Messiah. What does it mean that our Messiah is anointed?
Making an instrument holy
We learned last time that anointing makes an instrument holy that it may be of service to God. Exodus showed us how each piece of the tabernacle’s service instruments needed anointing before being put into service. The instrument must be holy that it may come before God to fulfill its purpose.
We are made holy through the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. We have exactly zero other ways to be holy. None. Zip. Zilch. There is one way to God, and that is through believing and confessing the blood of Jesus as the covering for our sins.
We rely on Him alone to be holy. So He better be holy Himself. If we cover ourselves with something that is not holy to get us to God, God will see that filthy thing and turn it away. A wolf in sheep’s clothing can get into the fold because the shepherd sees what looks like a sheep.
We are wolves. Our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and we can do no good thing on our own (Romans 7:18). But we seek the ultimate Shepherd, the God of the universe. The Shepherd only looks after animals that look like sheep. the difference between simile and truth here is this: we are not fooling God by showing up covered in the Lamb. He knows what is under that cover. And He loves us. He just cannot accept us without the cover of the One that is holy.
If our own salvation relies on the holiness of Another, then that Other has to be holy. Yes, Jesus is God (John 10:30), and thereby cannot sin. But we cannot grasp that in its entirety, it is too much. The people of Israel, and now to those who are not of Israel, we can understand cleaning something up so it can be put to good use. Even as I write, the dishwasher cleans the breakfast dishes that they can be used another time. We understand that. And the people of Israel, having lived in the life of the tabernacle, understood the purification of the instruments.
We can understand the need for cleaning. Anointing does that. So in proclaiming the Messiah as anointed by God, Isaiah tells us the One Who saves is already holy. Anointing is the evidence of a holy vessel. Praise God for Jesus’ anointing, for by no other way could we reach to throne of grace.
Sanctifying the anointed
Last session we learned how anointing and sanctification are not interchangeable concepts. However, wherever there is anointing, sanctification hovers nearby. Where holiness prepares an instrument for use in service, sanctification sets that instrument apart for a specific service specifically to God.
Jesus’ primary purpose on earth was to do the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). And we are the beneficiaries of that will. How do I know? Venture with me to some life-breathing, fear-eradicating, welcome-Home scriptures:
“(Jesus speaking) ‘And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.'” –John 6:39-40, ESV
Did that shake your theology for just a second? We are taught that Jesus came for us. Well, yes, kinda. He came to fulfill the will of the Father. Period. If the Father had asked Him to dance a jig, Jesus would have done it. If God wanted Jesus to write the next great cookbook to save the people from their gluttony, then Jesus would be cooking up a storm on the promotional circuit. We must, MUST get off of ourselves as the center of all things. We must set aside the notion that God is only fascinated with us and us alone.
We have to move away from we being the center. For if we continue to believe that we are the point, we will continue to miss the point. If I believe that Jesus’ sole purpose on earth was to save me, then I get fooled into believing that my sole purpose on earth is to either a) save me, b) save others, both of which set me up to be Savior. Jesus is our model, but He did not come to model how to be a Savior.
Read that: Jesus is our model, but He did not come to model how to be a Savior.
Is your ministry struggling? Maybe it is because you are focused on saving people. It is not your place to save people, for only the Savior can do that. Only a Savior can save. You are not the Savior. I am not the Savior. And I can tell you that the very moment I threw my hands in the air and gave up on measuring the results of my ministry by the numbers of changed lives, an immense pressure released from my shoulders. Are changed lives good? Sure. Am I pleased when people turn away from sin? Absolutely. But is that my role in ministry? No.
Stick with this for just a minute more. Yes, I may have just exploded your concept of ministry. You might be feeling a bit unnerved by this and wondering if I’ve gone off the rails. I haven’t. Here’s why.
Jesus’ purpose was the serve the Father. Jesus was anointed that He could serve the Father. Anointing sanctifies in that it sets apart Jesus for a specific purpose in serving the Father. Jesus came to show us how to live by the Spirit serving the Father’s will. That is why He came. That is the model He provides. The root of it all is that it pleased the Lord to provide us an example of how to live. You are not the point of Jesus coming. And that should free you from the pressure that comes when we allow ourselves to be the center.
Jesus’ anointing shows that He is sanctified. And as all sanctified instruments, He is sanctified for service to the Lord. It is the Lord He looks to, the Lord He prays to, and the Lord He serves. If you want to get in good with Jesus, follow His example of serving the Lord.
“(Jesus speaking) ‘Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.'” –Matthew 7:21, ESV
Jesus was sanctified for service to the Lord. And that example is one we can embrace.
Consecrating the anointed
We learned last session that consecration is not the same as being made holy or being sanctified. Consecration is being filled to overflowing that one can carry out the work set before them. Where does this power come from? Jesus tells us in Acts 1:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” –Acts 1:8, ESV
To quickly review, anointing comes with it being made holy, being set apart (sanctified) for service, and consecration by which one is filled to overflowing with power. That our Messiah is anointed means He was filled with power. Jesus needed the Spirit to fulfill His calling. How do we know?
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” –Matthew 3:16, ESV
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” –Luke 4:1, ESV
“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.” –Luke 4:14, ESV
In consecration, God provides overflowing power by which to accomplish any task He deems necessary. Jesus did not accomplish His ministry alone. He was filled by the Holy Spirit every step of the way. Jesus was consecrated, filled to overflowing, through the Holy Spirit Who was there in every step of His ministry.
That the anointed may minister to God
Jesus had a specific ministry. His time on earth was motivated primarily by serving the will of the Father. For each of us, the will of the Father likely differs. One person may be called to serve through teaching in a religious setting. Another may also be gifted with teaching, but called to serve in a secular forum, showing glimpses of Him though not able to teach specifically about Him. Another may be called to prayer as primary ministry, while still another is called to rely on those prayer warriors that they can go out and teach the gospel through all the earth.
Did you notice the difference. We all have the exact same primary purpose on this earth: to follow the Father’s will. Period. Let that settle in and become the foundation of how you see service to God. Before adding to it, let the primacy of serving God’s will re-center as the core of your purpose. For if this moves off-center, you are frankly, up a creek in white-water rapids holding onto a twig and grasping for your last breath. Do not confuse your gifting with your purpose. Your purpose is to serve God and to follow His will wherever that may lead.
Jesus was a gifted Teacher. He was a gifted Scholar. He was a gifted Healer. He was a gifted Counselor. And at any given point, He could have used any one of those giftings. But did the woman at the well need a scholar? Or did she need a word of grace? Did the men in the temple need physical healing, or did they really need a scholar to show them the revelation of the very works they spent their lives studying? In each circumstance, Jesus relied on the will of the Father to carry out what the circumstance needed.
In carrying out the will of the Father, Jesus served the Father in each specific situation He encountered. His primary focus tuned to the Father’s will, and being fueled by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was able to carry out every will of the Father. Even the will that kept the Teacher speechless, the Healer wounded, and the Redeemer condemned with the criminals.
The primacy of the purpose allowed Jesus to do whatever was needed in service the to Lord.
So what’s the point? Jesus.
The model Jesus gave is not one of saving souls, but of following the will of God. Did Jesus save? Yes. Has He called us to save? No.
“(Jesus speaking) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” –Acts 1:8, ESV
We are not called to save, we are called to witness. It is not on you to save your neighbor, your friend, or your co-worker. It is on you to do the will of the Father. And if you want fellowship with Jesus, He tells us exactly what is necessary.
“And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” –Matthew 12:49-50, ESV
Jesus’ purpose is to serve the Father. Fellowship with Him requires that you both be looking at the same thing. Release yourself from any self-imposed other purpose. Focus on doing the will of the Father. Jesus did exactly that, and only that. For it was from that sole purpose that everything else He did stemmed. Return to the sole purpose, and the chaos and clutter will fade away.