Sermon for Sunday January 24th, 2016, Septuagesima Sunday
The Lessons: Psalm 19; Nehemiah 8:1-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Luke 4:14-21
The Text: Luke 4:14-21
Theme: The purpose of being anointed with the Holy Spirit
The famous Boston pastor Dr. A.J. Gordon visited the World’s Fair in Chicago. In the distance he saw a man robed in bright, gaudy Oriental clothes who appeared to be laboriously turning the crank of a pump and thereby making a mighty flow of water. Gordon was impressed with the man’s energy, his smooth motions, and his obvious physical conditioning. He was pumping a tremendous amount of water.
Drawing closer, Gordon was surprised to discover that the man was actually made of wood. Instead of turning the crank and making the water flow, the flow of water was actually turning the crank and thereby making him go!
So it is with the Lord’s work. It isn’t our efforts that produce the results. The flowing river of the Holy Spirit, channeled through our lives and lips, keeps us going and yields considerable results, to the glory of God.
( p. 441, Robert J. Morgan: Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2007.)
St. John wrote of the anointing which Christians have received from God as abiding in them, so that no-one needs to teach them, but only the anointing (1 John 2:27) that teaches them all things. By “anointing,” St. John means the Holy Spirit who leads the Church into all the truth (John 14:17, 26; 16:13). Pentecostal ministers have tended to use the word “the anointing” to refer to a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a place or with a person or church. The problem with this usage is that the Holy Spirit’s presence is made to depend too much on a personality, or on observed features of fervent worship.
Being anointed with the Holy Spirit is not simply a glorified state of existence in this life, but it has a purpose, and we understand that purpose best by looking at the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our Second/Gospel Lesson, the Lord Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, and indicates that He is the One of whom the prophet spoke. Kings, prophets, and priests in ancient Israel were anointed with oil as a sign of God’s blessing, authority and grace to perform their ministry. It was believed also that the Messiah, or Christ, whose name means “Anointed,” would be anointed by God to usher in a new age of peace, prosperity and blessing, and rule over Israel and the whole world.
THE PURPOSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ came as God’s gift to reveal Jesus Christ as God’s Only-Begotten Son and anointed King. This anointing with the Holy Spirit was not just to reveal Jesus’ status as the Christ, but to be empowering and directing His unique ministry. This ministry for which the Holy Spirit had anointed Jesus Christ was to preach the Gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty the oppressed, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, which is the dawning of the age of grace inaugurated by him (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2). All these purposes for which Jesus had been anointed were creative, liberating and healing ones. Through His ministry on earth, the poor indeed received the preaching of the Gospel, many were healed and delivered from illnesses and oppression by demons. Through Him, recovery of sight, at least spiritual sight, came to many people. Now Jesus is also the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, as St. John the Baptist announced. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit is given to the Church, we must expect the same preaching, teaching, healings, miracles and restorative work that Jesus did, and greater works than these, as the Lord Jesus prophesied (John 14:12).
OUR PURPOSE AS CHRISTIANS ANOINTED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
What, then, is our purpose as Christians anointed with the Holy Spirit? Whatever the gifts and graces the Holy Spirit has distributed to each of us, we have a responsibility to use them for the benefit of the Church and for those outside the Church. We must seek to reach out to our neighbor with the love given to us by the Holy Spirit; we must bear witness to the Gospel, making use of opportunities to share our faith in ways that may change other people’s lives for the best; we must seek to be agents of Christ’s healing grace and power in the lives of all around us.
But how are to do all this? Certainly not in our own strength, but only the grace and power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Since this is so, each of us has a responsibility, and this responsibility is to abide in the Lord, to surround ourselves with His presence. We do this by daily reading and studying His word, the Bible, obeying its moral teaching and praying always. We cannot know the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, if we do not abide in the Lord. We cannot as branches of the true Vine bear fruit, unless we remain in the Vine.
In addition to all this, we must continue to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, not only for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but also for healing and deliverance from every kind of sin and evil. Let our relationship with the Lord and our obedience to Him continually strengthen our faith to do the works which His Spirit directs us to do!
“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for Him to fill full of His Spirit and His love.”