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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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 reubenbredenhof.com
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:The Holy Anointing of Christ and His Believers
Text:LD 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-11-07
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 133:1,2                                                                                   

Hy 1

Reading – Isaiah 61; 1 John 2

Ps 110:1,2,3,4

Sermon – Lord’s Day 12

Hy 69:1,2,3

Hy 26:1

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ, the Lord Jesus is focused with razor-sharp intensity on one task. He wants to do the will of his Father, and his Father’s will is that Jesus saves his people. If Jesus had a job description, this is what it would be: redeeming sinners.

This redeeming purpose comes out so clearly in how Lord’s Day 12 speaks of Jesus’s calling as the Christ. Look at Q&A 31. First, it says that as our chief Prophet and Teacher, Christ reveals God’s will concerning our redemption. Then it says that as our only High Priest, Christ has redeemed us by the sacrifice of his body. And finally, Christ as our King defends and preserves us in our redemption. Three times ‘redemption’ to make perfectly clear that this is Jesus’s focus: to bring glory to God by saving his people!

For this beautiful work, it says that Jesus was anointed by God the Father. That’s the meaning of his title ‘Christ.’ You’ll probably know that ‘christ’ is the equivalent of another familiar word, the Hebrew word ‘messiah.’ Christ or Messiah is literally an “anointed one.” When God wanted to give someone a special job, such a person was often anointed with oil.

For example, a prophet would come up to the man who’d be the next king of Israel, take a jar of the finest virgin olive oil, and he’d pour it all over his head. That luxurious treatment symbolized how a person was set apart for a special task, and how he was also being given the abilities to do the work. Like the oil flowed generously onto a person, so God’s gifts would flow onto him for service.

God set people apart for three main jobs. In every generation of Israelites, perhaps several hundred were given the task as priest, maybe one or two men in a generation would be king, and just a handful as prophets. Most only served in one office. But Jesus is the greatest office-bearer. He is the ultimate ‘christ.’ For He is anointed by God with the Holy Spirit for a three-fold work. He is, we might say, a true multi-tasker.

And when we’re joined to Christ by faith, we get to share in his work and his anointing! We read in 1 John 2, “He who says He abides in him ought…to walk just as [Jesus] walked” (2:6). Or work as Jesus worked! If you abide in Christ, believe in him, obey Christ, then you’ll do the work of Christ: as king, prophet, and priest. It’s our three-fold task, and our singular purpose: To bring glory to God and his Son who saved us! I preach God’s Word from LD 12,

Christ shares his holy anointing with his believers:

  1. it is a prophetic role
  2. it is a priestly role
  3. it is a royal role

 

1) it is a prophetic role: A prophet’s job is to speak the words of God. With words from the LORD’s own mouth, he comforts the lowly, he admonishes the sinner, reminds the forgetful, and guides the confused.

At the beginning of Isaiah 61, there’s an early sketch of how this prophetic task would be given to Jesus. Let’s keep in mind that these words were first spoken around 600 years before Christ was even born. In this time, the prophet was told to bring the gospel to God’s suffering people. Listen to how he describes his work: “The LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor” (v 1). He is ordained to preach!

And his message is sorely needed. The Israelites were in exile. Far from their desolate homeland and the destroyed temple, despairing. But God is gracious. He tells the prophet to announce that there’s going to be redemption. It will be the year of God’s favour—the year of Jubilee, when all debts are canceled! For there will be “liberty for the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (v 1). Imagine how those in exile were comforted by the prophet’s word. And God kept his word. In time, God set his people free from Bablyon.

Yet the liberation was short-lived. Before long, the people of God were again overwhelmed by the Gentiles, first Persia, then Greece, then Rome. Prisoners again, this time in their own land. So where was the enduring freedom? And where was the “day of vengeance” on God’s enemies? (v 2). There had to be something more than what Isaiah had announced.

Isaiah brought a message that rang true only for a time and in a limited way. Until we get to Luke 4—maybe you can read this passage later on today. In Luke 4, Jesus dares to echo Isaiah’s words. On that day, He stands up in the synagogue at Nazareth and reads from Isaiah, chapter 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners” (Luke 4:18). Christ has been ordained to preach!

Then He says, to the great astonishment of everyone present, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (4:21). In other words, He is the promised one. He is none other than the great Prophet. His life and death were one long sermon, telling the wondrous theme of God’s justice and God’s mercy. And with his last loud cry on the cross, He announced that sinners can be forgiven and set free through him.

The Catechism outlines the amazing content of what Christ said: “He has fully revealed to us… [the] will of God concerning our redemption” (Q&A 31). God had always spoken his Word through the prophets. Like Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” But now in Christ He reveals so much more—He reveals everything we need to know for salvation. This is what Jesus says in John 15:15, “Everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

How does Christ reveal these great things to us? Our teacher’s message comes by the Spirit, and by the Word. For the Bible’s entire message is centered on Christ; as Jesus said, ‘These are the very Scriptures that testify about me’ (John 5:39). Some Bibles are printed as red-letter editions, where the actual words of Christ are set apart from the other words. But really, we should have Bibles that are fully red-lettered: all of God’s truth comes through Christ and from Christ and is all about Christ.

Yet sometimes people turn down even the clearest and best message. If your mind is made up about something, you don’t want to hear anything that would sway you. Remember how that happened to Jesus. In their pre-formed ideas of what Messiah would be, many people in Israel rejected their chief Prophet and Teacher. And here in our very midst, by this Word, Jesus proclaims the good news. Today He declares freedom for slaves to sin, announces liberation from Satan’s kingdom.

Is there still a danger that we shut our ears to Jesus the prophet? There is a danger. It’s not because He doesn’t fit our ideas of a Saviour, but because we struggle to hear the voice of Jesus over all the noise of the world. Ours is a time of information overload, a million words but no substance, flashing lights and clickbait. Yet here is the one message we need.

Jesus the Christ proclaims freedom! You don’t have to live in guilt. You don’t have to live in insecurity. You don’t have to live as a slave to your desires. Listen to the voice of our great prophet, crying in a wilderness of sin and darkness. Find your place at the feet of your great Teacher, and be instructed in the school of grace.

And often the best learning happens when you have to do the teaching yourselves. Teachers do this in the upper years of school or later in university; they’ll ask their students to give a lesson to the other students. You don’t learn something really well until you have to teach it yourself!

So it is in Christ’s service. Our great Teacher commands us to listen, but then also to speak. We too must be prophets, those who “confess his name” (Q&A 32). Where and how do we do this? We can mention three places.

Be a prophet in church. When you worship, confess your faith in God with zeal and love. Not just our creed, but every song and every prayer is a confession. Confess him with a believing heart and an open mouth! Speak God’s Word too, to each other. In the communion of saints, confess God’s name and speak Christ’s Word so that you can comfort someone, encourage them, correct them. We underestimate just how much good our words can do, when we’re willing to speak to each other in God’s love and with God’s truth.

Be a prophet at home. Be sure that you’re telling your children what God has done. Tell about his steadfast love. Speak about God’s great work of salvation. What did Jesus do on the cross? How does God want you to live as his covenant child? What pleases the Lord? If we are prophets, and want to raise prophets, we’ll pass this knowledge on like a precious gift.

And be a prophet in this world. Jesus says that we must confess his name before kings and princes—and that surely also includes confessing Christ before our co-workers and next door neighbors and university classmates. Knowing we have something beautiful to share, it’s our task to speak the Word. As Jesus told his followers, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops” (Matt 10:27).

This takes courage, more courage than I think I have. And being a prophet requires wisdom, more wisdom than I think I have. For how do you know the right thing to say in that fleeting moment when the opportunity arises? How can I answer the many objections to the Christian faith? We need a lot of help for this prophetic work, for the work of witnessing, giving a good testimony.

We need help, and there is help. See how the Catechism puts it: as members “of Christ by faith… [we] share in his anointing” (Q&A 32). The Holy Spirit who anointed Jesus, anoints us also. This is what John tells us, “[His] anointing teaches you concerning all things” (1 John 2:27). By living in your heart, the Spirit slowly teaches you. He helps you stand and speak. If you ask, the Spirit gives the right words to say. I know what Jesus our great Prophet has said. Now let me be a prophet too, and speak it, confess it, and share it.

 

2) it is a priestly role: A priest’s job was to mediate between God and sinners. For the LORD always showed that a great wall of unholiness kept people from drawing near. So in the Old Testament, priests would bring atoning blood for the people. On that great day when the high priest entered God’s presence, he had the names of the twelve tribes inscribed on his shoulders. He was bringing their cause before the LORD, and God accepted them again.

Jesus was ordained to the priesthood. But He didn’t do the job in the same way as those from the house of Aaron. While other high priests had to make sacrifices of blood and come into God’s presence day after day, year after year, Christ did this special task only once. While other priests had to bring blood for their own sins too, Christ came as a sinless high priest, able to sacrifice exclusively for others. And the greatest marvel of his work was that while other priests brought the blood of animals, Jesus brought his own. Through his perfect priestly work, He atones for sin.

And Christ our priest is still on duty. He still bears our names in the presence of the Father, daily bringing our cause to God in heaven. At this very moment He’s in heaven, praying for us without ceasing: “Father, forgive them. Have patience with them. Father, remember that I purchased them with my own blood.” Christ simply has to show his hands to his Father to receive from him anything he wishes, according to his will.

Christ opened the way, and He keeps it open. John writes, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Whenever we sin, whatever that sin might be—a quick glance of loathing, just one biting phrase, an ounce of discontent—we need a defense. As often as we sin, we need a sure defense. But Christ lives to intercede for us.

Through Christ’s work, we are made holy. And having been made holy, we’re given a holy and priestly task. God set apart one tribe and family as priests for his people, but He wanted his whole nation to be a ‘kingdom of priests’ (Exod 19:6). Receiving God’s grace transformed all of them, restored them to their original calling: created to draw near.

If we go back to Isaiah 61, the prophet was speaking about a time when the temple was destroyed, when the priesthood was in shambles. Yet notice what God says in verse 6. He looks forward to when all the restored people would be “named the priests of the LORD…[and] the servants of our God.”

The LORD had healed them and set them free, for this purpose: in order to be a nation of priests for God. Notice that it didn’t matter whether they were from the tribe of Levi or from the tribe of Issachar or Naphtali. God desires that all his people be his holy servants, to live and to work and see themselves as ‘priests of the LORD.’

Because we know our Catechism, we know that we’re all priests. But this idea actually requires a shift in our thinking. We can still have the idea that all the truly holy work, ‘the priestly work,’ can be left to the professionals, the ministers and theologians and missionaries. Meanwhile, the rest of us are busy with our regular activities, just earning a living in this world and doing life. Ironing shirts doesn’t look priestly to us, and neither does pulling wire, or filling in spreadsheets.

Scripture changes our view. All the work that we do, if it’s done for the LORD, is holy work. Our priestly calling is to present ourselves to God: “Offer yourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom 12:1). So we say, “Here I am, O Lord. Use me in your service. I am a priest. Take my talents, my gifts, my hours in the home or at my desk. I devote them to you.”

Think about how a priest would give himself fully and constantly to God’s service. That’s a privilege we all have. Our schoolwork, our housework, our office work, our work in the shed and in the shop—it can be for God. Do we do it well, for the LORD’s glory? Do we do it in his strength? Do we do what we do, not for ourselves and our glory, but committing it God in prayer and thanksgiving? Then it is holy work.

A second aspect of this priestly calling means that we should be separate from all sin and contamination. As John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). If you were a priest, you wouldn’t wander into places where you could become unclean. Because you had to serve at the tabernacle, you’d be careful about what you touched and what you ate. Even if the possibility of pollution was slight, you wouldn’t risk it, because you were ‘holy to the Lord.’ The same is true today: If you’re a priest, then you must stay pure.

Because I am a priest, I will guard my heart. I will shield my eyes. I will watch my words. I will think about better things, dwelling on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—I’ll think about such things, and put them into practice.

 

3) it is a royal role: The Bible has a lot to say about kings, and what they do. In the Old Testament, they ruled the people of God according to the LORD’s just laws. A king rewarded good and punished evil. A king was busy ensuring the people’s welfare, protecting them from enemies, and providing the needed things of life.

That is the model for the kingship of Christ: He cares so deeply for his people. Remember how when He finished his prophetic and priestly work on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven with all authority in the universe. He is crowned as King over all! For Christ’s work is not yet finished. For now His task is to preserve us in our redemption.

And our King surely knows that we need preserving and defending. In his letter, John writes that many antichrists have already come, and that the great Antichrist is still coming. If the Christ is focused on saving and defending us, healing and freeing us, just think of the aim and ambition of the many antichrists who are in this world. They’re opposed to all that is good and holy. They’re dead set against Christ’s church. So we face many attacks, almost non-stop temptation, and troubles.

But the many antichrists cannot overcome the one Christ. For our King is still at work on our behalf. Christ will continue to defend and preserve us as our all-powerful King. Christians in every age can say in the midst of suffering, turmoil and distress, ‘I know that Jesus is king of heaven and earth, and so all is well.’

And here too, we share in his anointing. Christ the King calls us kings and queens. Think of how this dignifies us, gives a sense of nobility. Sin is so often dehumanizing. It is degrading. Sinning can make us feel dirty, worthless, like the scum of the earth. Satan often tells us the lie that we are useless, and we’re probably inclined to believe him. But Christ calls us kings! Remember what John says, “You have an anointing from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). God has lifted us up and He has empowered through the strength of his Spirit. And this gives us hope.

John writes to all believers, “I write to you…because you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:13). You have overcome him! Through our anointing with the Holy One, we can conquer. Satan’s temptations are deadly, but not invincible. His allies are everywhere, but not all-powerful. You’re a king, a queen—only you need to keep fighting. Don’t give in, but keep fighting with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil.

Prophets, priests, kings—we have an extraordinary triple-calling! We get to be multi-taskers in service of Christ. Sounds like a lot of work, perhaps, like more than you can ever handle. Often we feel poorly equipped to be the kind of servants God wants. Any of us can feel like our holy works won’t ever amount to much.

But keep your eyes on the Christ. Think of who it’s for, the privilege we all have to serve our King. He wants us to do this work. He delights in this work. He promises to equip us for the work. And Scripture says that this is what we will do forever. In the book of Revelation, after Christ the Lamb has finished his saving mission, the heavenly choirs praise him. Listen to what they sing to the Lord Jesus: “You have made [your people] to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5:10). We will be kings and priests forever, forever prophets to declare his praise—that’s our task now and always.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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