The Anointed

January 12, 2020

Sermon 1689                         Acts 10.34-38                          January 12, 2020

The Anointed.  Many families have one.  It might be the firstborn, the child who epitomizes the couple’s youth, devil-may-care-vitality and stubborn strength.  It may be the baby of the family, the last of the line.  It may be the second child or another one of those in the middle who saw what worked and what didn’t and never got into those head-banging, scream fests with parents or siblings.  You can tell who the Anointed is because family plans tend to revolve around them, long after they’ve moved out of the house.  Theirs is the unchanged bedroom, the awards or books never to be thrown out.

The Anointed.  The Anointed are annoying!  Though they always get their way, they don’t really deserve to be the Anointed.  As years go by, the rest can see the Anointed often are as lack-luster as the biggest slackers.  The Anointed have feet of clay.  Is that why foolish parents so zealously tend the myths of their Anointed?

But there was one who broke the mold.  He did and always will deserve to be

The Anointed

  1. Special character (36a, 38a).

  2. Special works (38).

  3. Special accomplishments (34-35, 36b-37).

The problem with a family Anointed is you have to wait for time to unmask them.  Until you have to actually amount to something, sky’s the limit.  But in our text for today there has been time to tell the story, time to show this Anointed is the real deal.  We are considerably past Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  The Apostles have been arrested, one put to death,  The Christian Church has been persecuted and believers fleeing Jerusalem have spread the message throughout the Middle East and maybe farther than that.  Peter has seen a vision that leads him to accept the invitation of two Roman soldiers to go to their commander’s house.  Upon arriving, Peter discovers Cornelius has gathered his whole household and many pious believers—all non-Jewish—to hear what God told him Peter would say.  Peter has stumbled into a church service—and he is the guest preacher!

“Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all.  You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—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 (34-38).’”

The Anointed has a special character.  God the Father let everybody know the way to heaven through Jesus, the Christ, Jesus, the Anointed.  Christ was the Greek term for the Hebrew word Messiah and both those names mean Anointed.  God worked through Jesus the Anointed.  Look why he is the Anointed—not by birth order, but because he is the Lord.  That’s the name for God.  There is nothing higher, nothing better than God.  Jesus is every wonderful adjective you can think of to the nth degree.  There not only is no one better than him, there cannot possibly be anyone better than him.  Jesus the Lord is the Anointed.

Now there are some people who grudgingly admit the preeminence of people, say, our President.  There are some people who do not like President Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter.  You get my point.  No matter how wonderful you are, there are some who want to keep you at arm’s length and sniff that you are not “their Anointed.”  God felt no such ambiguity towards Jesus.  He anointed him with the Holy Spirit, sending the Spirit into Jesus’ heart in ways we cannot even imagine.  Closer than your breath, more constant than your thoughts, so the Holy Spirit dwelt inside Jesus.  It showed.  The Holy Spirit gave Jesus power, not just spiritual power, all power.  There is no limiting adjective here.  God gave Jesus all sorts of power.  He had the power to calm storms.  He had power to heal people.  He had power to bring people to faith.  He had power to send demons packing.  He had power to bring himself back to life.  All this God did for Jesus when Jesus was baptized, as today’s Gospel relates.

Jesus is the Anointed because he has a special character.  Jesus is the Anointed because of his special works.

Peter says “he went around doing good.”  It seems faint praise, but how better to describe Jesus’ life?  What day didn’t he do good?  What day didn’t he heal those who were under the power of the devil, one way or another?  Either he drove out demons, or he drove out unbelief or he drove out guilt and shame through his forgiveness of sins.  All those were ways the devil had a hold on people.  All those were ways the devil wanted to oppress and crush the human race.  Lots of people do many good things, but there is a limit to their powers and their consistency.  An old rock star, Bruce Springsteen, once commented on how surprised a fan was to find him in a seedy gentlemen’s club in the middle of the afternoon.  “Oh, that’s a different Bruce,” the rocker said.  “You are thinking of the always doing good works Bruce.  This here is the private Bruce.”  Bruce’s good works weren’t so special after all.  It took great effort to bring them forth and he had to give it a rest every so often.

There was no difference between the public and private Jesus.  His works were so special because he never gave it a rest.  Even at times when Jesus was exhausted, he gave.  He calmed the storm when he was dead tired.  Looking for some down time he teaches, heals and finally, because the work of the day dragged on so long, fed over 5000 people.   In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays instead of getting the last little bit of shut-eye he could enjoy for the next 18 hours.  I’m not even going to mention how Jesus died for our sins on the cross.  That’s included in the “going around doing good,” too.

This is the Anointed.  He has special works.  Jesus is the Anointed.  He has special accomplishments.

How sad it must be to be a genius but not have anything to show for it!  Jesus had much to show for his life, but don’t try telling that to our sinful human nature.  The sinful human nature will look at Jesus on the cross, abandoned by all, except the scoffers.  The sinful human nature will look at Jesus hastily buried in a borrowed tomb.  The sinful human nature will dismiss any claims to divinity as it turns Jesus into a myth, a pious fiction the weak must cling to for any hope in this life.  We can be as bad as they whenever we think Jesus cannot help us, so why pray, or how much longer can the Christian Church or our congregation hold out in the face of such opposition in the world and passing away of a generation of the faithful?  We can even look at our own lives and see many times when it seems Jesus didn’t even live at all, he has so little impact on how we think and talk and act.

Repent and see things through Peter’s eyes.  Jesus is the Anointed because he has special accomplishments.

Those accomplishments were staring Peter in the face.  God shows no favoritism.  You didn’t have to be Jewish to belong to Jesus.  You don’t have to only be Lutheran to belong to Jesus.  You don’t have to speak English to belong to Jesus.  For Jesus’ sake, for the sake of his Son who laid down his life for a ransom for all men, God the Father accepts men from every nation, from every race, from every tribe and language.  The Father’s acceptance shows in their lives of doing what is right.  The Father’s acceptance shows in their fear of crossing God.  The Father’s acceptance shows in their knowledge of his saving deeds.

I am looking at some special accomplishments of Jesus right now.   7300 miles away and 2000 years later, we know what the Anointed has done, beginning at his baptism.  We show what Jesus has done in our lives.  We fear crossing God.  We resist the devil’s temptations because we don’t want to lose out on heaven and end up in hell.  So we don’t even want to taste what the devil is dangling in front of us on that fishing hook.  We do what is right every day.  Oh, we are not perfect—that must wait until we get to heaven.  But we are trying and, for the sake of his Son, God accepts our faithful efforts.  The Holy Spirit makes us into a temple for the living God, a nation of priests, a people declaring the praises of him who called us out of darkness.  That’s because Jesus is

The Anointed

  1. Special character (36a, 38a).

  2. Special works (38).

  3. Special accomplishments (34-35, 36b-37).

The Anointed.  Maybe you were the Anointed in your family at one time.  Huh.  What kind of Savior would you have made?  Pretty sad.  Pretty wonderful we believe in the real, the one and only Anointed, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

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