Anointed for action!
Isaiah 61:1-4 was read out by Jesus at the start of His ministry because it was about Him (Luke 4:20-21). From this moment on, Jesus did actually do everything that He read and declared. The Spirit’s anointing gave Him the capacity and power to do it (Luke 3:22, 4:1, 14). He needed the Spirit because He had chosen to empty Himself and be fully human (Philippians 2:7), to only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19), and be fully dependent on the Spirit.
This is great news for us because the same Spirit that anointed Jesus anoints us too: it’s Him who we need to do all that God calls us to do. John 16:7 shows that this is God’s best plan for us, better even than Jesus staying among us. The day of Pentecost was the beginning of the proof of all this (Acts 2:4).
God wants us to do amazing things that we can’t do - unless the Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon us. Our hard work and busy-ness won’t do it - only the anointing of the Spirit will. Similarly, your weakness cannot disqualify you because it’s God’s strength that counts.
In the Old Testament, certain individuals were anointed at certain moments, in the new covenant the Spirit is given to all of us for always (Acts 2:17-18).
What happens when we’re anointed with the Spirit?
- We bring good news to the poor. Jesus always tended to go to the marginalised, the forgotten, those without, the poor. This isn’t about doing good deeds: God wants to give us supernatural, Spirit-empowered grace to do this. This isn’t social action added on to what we do, it’s central.
- We bind up the broken-hearted. They are all around us, in their thousands. Starting with acts of kindness, to supernatural breakthrough. Don’t despair at the statistics, have faith that God will anoint us to help.
- We proclaim liberty/freedom to the captives. There is authority to proclaim freedom in Christ that will set people free (John 8:36).
- We proclaim the Lord’s favour, the vengeance of our God, comfort to all who mourn. This is the gospel of grace, of Jesus who sorts out our mess rather than waiting for us to get ourselves together. This is also about justice and help for those who are facing death hopelessly.
- We exchange beauty for ashes, joy for sorrow, praise for heaviness. Life instead of death, joy even in sorrow and which lasts forever. These are deep changes that only the Spirit can do in us.
“They” is repeated a lot in verses 3 and 4 - who are they? The poor! The broken-hearted. The gospel brings this massive transformation, taking us from what we were to a new thing. This makes us qualified to offer hope to others - we were like them and God changed us and now uses us. "The destiny of the poor is not the removal of poverty - it’s to rebuild broken cities." (Alan Scott).
- Do you believe what Jesus says in John 16:7?
- What experiences of the Holy Spirit have you had?
- How did Dave challenge us to answer our objections when God calls us to do amazing things?
- Which of the consequences of being anointed with the Spirit that Dave listed would you love the Spirit to anoint you for?
- What tempts you to do good things by yourself, without the Spirit?
- Where do you see the Spirit at work in King’s, and where would you like to see Him moving in a new way?