February 07, 2021 – “Anointed Faith”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Welcome to our worship service for Sunday, February 7th; at West Tulsa UMC.
We have some beautiful music for you today, a message about living an “anointed faith” life, and we’ll bless the communion sacraments later in the service.
So, please have some bread and juice nearby so that you can receive the elements representing the body and the blood of Christ Jesus later in the service.
The last time we met, our Scripture from Mark’s Gospel showed us how astonished people in the synagogue were when Jesus taught with authority, and then commanded a demon with authority.
Well, the house that Peter’s family lived in was just a stone’s throw from the Capernaum synagogue, so that’s where Jesus and crew walked to for what we would call a “Fellowship Dinner.”
Jewish people lived with extended family then, and Peter’s mother-in-law didn’t feel well enough to come to dinner, so Jesus went to her.
Many Bible scholars feel that Mark’s Gospel is the compilation of Peter’s sermons, so it is the closest thing to the eye-witness account that we have. Mark keeps things brief, listen to his account of what happened next: “Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”
Boom! Just like that, she’s healed…and her response is to follow Jesus by serving the house guests. This wasn’t a “Martha moment.” This was an act of thankfulness.
Peter’s mother-in-law showed her gratitude by helping with the Sabbath meal.
Let’s be thinking about what we’re grateful to the Lord about today, and how we will respond to the healing power of our salvation.
Seminarians, meaning the men and women who go to a seminary for their theological training, normally arrive with the hope and expectation that they’ll graduate as a great preacher, or a great teacher.
The thing is, Jesus spent His ministry doing three things: Preaching, teaching, and healing.
I wonder how many people go to seminary to learn how to be a great healer. Well, out of all the people I met in my years at St. Paul Seminary, practically every one of them was passionate about proclaiming their faith, but I can’t think of ONE person who was there to learn how to be a healer.
I wonder if those who are pursuing theological training in the 21st century might ought to reverse the order of their focus. Maybe the needed emphasis should start with healing, then teaching, and then preaching.
It seems that we’ve stepped aside and relegated the task of healing to highly trained medical professionals.
It hasn’t always been that way. (Don’t get me wrong, I think we have all developed a greater appreciation for the doctors, nurses, and technicians who have risked their lives fighting on the front lines of the war against the Coronavirus,)
However, “midwifes,” “wisemen,” “natural folk-healers,” “medicine men,” and “practitioners” have created compounds from plants, herbs, spices, and oils for thousands of years.
The earliest known of these “practitioners” are identified in 2,600 B.C. in Babylon.
THEY are the “healers” who have provided emotional, spiritual, and physical healing; for MOST of history.
When the first European colonists came to the Appalachian region, they brought plants and seeds for food and medicines, as well as the available herb books of that age.
Amazingly, they soon found that their Indian neighbors, many of whom were Cherokee, were trained in 600 formulas of the native plants and barks.
Over the years, “home remedies,” “folk remedies,” and “kitchen pharmacies,” have been the medicine of choice for many people in rural America.
In Jesus’ day, priests of most religions were often the ones who identified disease, and declared people freed from them. Although there were physicians (of which Luke was one), most healings and methods of healing were still deeply enmeshed within the religious realm.
In fact, priests were the ones who typically would prepare holy oils and ointments, such as myrrh and oils for the Temple for anointing, burning, and sacrifice.
In Renaissance Italy, nuns in fact were the first medicinal sources, formulating and dispensing medicines, giving advice, and serving as spiritual sources for healing.
In the early days of Methodism, circuit riders carried medicines with them in their saddlebags, since they were the ones most consulted about sickness and disease.
Some itinerants, like Lorenzo Dow were known more for their healing than for their preaching.
In fact, you can’t read a book about the history of medicine without a significant portion of a chapter being devoted to John Wesley, who opened the first people’s health clinic, and who wrote the first folk book in England on healing called “Primitive Physick” in 1764.
We don’t have to think very hard to identify people who still follow in that tradition –people like Mother Theresa, who felt a call to “healing” in whatever ways that healing manifested itself in the service of those in need.
For Catholics, Jesus was the source for the “prescriptive life,” doling out medicaments, such as humility and charity for ailments, such as gluttony, pride, greed, and other sins.
For others, Jesus was the source of spiritual and physical healing, wisdom, comfort, and the dispenser of God’s mercy, grace, and restoration.
If Jesus is the source for all these kinds of healing, maybe more people should pursue “healing studies” in their theological training.
The reality is, a person doesn’t need to be seminary trained to assist in healing ministries because Jesus is the Ultimate Healer. He is the one who brings the “good news” of God’s restorative “balm of Gilead” to an ailing people.
As His followers, you and I represent the continuation of His healing ministry.
For HE is the Messiah, high priest of Melchizedek, the priest and king on the Final Day of Judgment, the “Anointed One” of God.
Isaiah’s prophesy was about Jesus, when he wrote:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
And, when Jesus identified Himself in that role in His hometown synagogue at the beginning of His ministry, He was stating that He would be the one to usher in the final Grand Jubilee, the Last Day of Atonement.
Jesus is BOTH the Message and the Messenger of the Good News of God’s love and hope.
And, if God is Holy Healer, Jesus is BOTH the Great Physician and Divine Dispenser, ready to save God’s people from death and doubt.
Jesus is the Anointed One, the Good Shepherd, the Healer, He is God’s comfort and strength.
“Messiah” means “one anointed with oil”…meaning a person that is healed, consecrated, commissioned, made holy. Jesus is both anointed and appointed with a mission –to usher in God’s great time of healing.
And the response –is celebration!
It’s Jubilee for those who are suffering, who feel mistreated, who feel lost, who feel overlooked, who have lost loved ones, who have been ill or dying…
ALL of these people can get ready to be restored.
Many “home remedies,” and “kitchen pharmacies,” include the use of a “balm,” or a “salve” that is soothing or comforting. The word “salve” is the root of the word “salvation.” So, salvation incorporates healing.
The “Year of Jubilee,” that Isaiah writes about includes the physical restoration of property and abundance.
BUT, when Jesus returns to establish the “New Jerusalem,” the end times “Jubilee” that He will usher in, will restore a lot more than physical property!
“He will wipe every tear from peoples’ eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4 HCSB)
Jesus’ “Jubilee” will erase doubt, restore people to God, usher in the eternal Feast, lift up people in joy, restore those who have wandered from God.
It is a time of “healing of heart.”
And Jesus is the great Healer of Hearts.
So what is the good news?
To answer that question biblically, we need to understand Jesus in terms of God’s messenger (AND God’s message)!
In ancient times, if a foreign king won a battle, the people on the losing side would be enslaved, could be treated unjustly, could be put to death, could be forced to worship other gods, and pledge loyalty to things they disbelieved in. They could be hauled off to other lands, and married to foreign people. Their religion, their land, their homes, their way of life, their hope, would all be lost.
But… if THEIR king won –it was a time for celebration!! Because THEIR king would treat them with dignity, give them an abundant life, gift them with the “spoils” of war, keep them well as a shepherd cares for his sheep, protect their homes, encourage their families….and life would be good.
So, people waited nervously at home for news from special “runners” that would be sent from the battlefield over the hills toward town to proclaim the news! The people back home hoped upon hope….waited….and prayed…that the answer they would hear from the messenger….would be Good News!
For example: The Greek soldier, Pheidippides was the messenger who ran 26 miles from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to report the Good News of victory.
The modern marathon race of 26 miles, 385 yards; commemorates Pheidippides heroic effort…The legend is that the messenger died after he delivered the good news.
I bring you Good news today!!! Your King has conquered!
Jesus is the eternal King. He has won the battle with sin and death, and has claimed us for God’s own!
That’s good news!!
Jesus is the Anointed One –the one commissioned by God to administer his grace, love, and mercy upon all of us.
That’s good news!!
Jesus is authorized and ordained with the strength and authority of God –to bless God’s people with eternal life, with resurrection glory, with miracles, healings, and fresh faith!
That’s good news!!
Jesus has been baptized into a ministry and mission –to carry out God’s plan to overcome doubt and sin, sickness and peril –even the throes of death, to be an ever living and ever lasting witness to God’s strength and sovereign glory!
That’s good news!!
Jesus is sent to equip God’s people with an advocate –the Holy Spirit, so that all people for all time can walk with God in His eternal garden of peace and comfort, food and water, healing and love, abundance and grace!
That’s good news!!
Jesus is the promised one, God’s Holy Bridegroom, come to collect all who wait with lamps lit….waiting for Messiah….minds and hearts loyal to God and His betrothal promise. All of you will be glorified!
This is good news!!
Jesus, the Anointed One, comes now to anoint us all as well –into mission, into ministry, into service, into eternal Life with the One True God. He wants to “sanctify” all of us, set us apart as God’s people, to do God’s work, and to be rescued and healed as God’s holy ones.
He wants to heal those of us who are sick.
He wants to encourage those of us who have lost loved ones.
He wants to provoke those of us who are lapsing or languishing in doubt or affliction.
He wants to commission all of us into the covenant of God.
HE is your king. And YOU are His people.
You are God’s baptized people. And Jesus calls to you today to accept the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit upon you! To reaffirm your faith in Jesus, to recommit yourself to God’s eternal covenant, to commission yourself for service, to God in this world, and in the next.
So I ask, you….Will you live with anointed faith, OR; will you store your faith in a mason jar high on a shelf like some old herbal remedy?
When Jesus heals Peter’s Mother in Law of a fever in our scripture today, the first thing she does is get up to serve! Anointed faith is a faith of service, love, and loyalty to God, and to Jesus. It’s an acknowledgement of His healing power, and the response of a thankful and grateful heart.
God’s people don’t worship Jesus in a jar…..somewhere high on a shelf.
Jesus is NOT just some dusty figure in history…
He is NOT someone who did miracles and healings long ago in another time and another place.
But God’s true people worship a living, and powerful, and merciful Jesus…the One as Isaiah tells us—with the power to heal and restore in the here and now.
Jesus is the Anointed One. The Holy One of God. And He is calling you to an “anointed faith!” To an “anointed life”!
Speaking through Isaiah, God says “Come,…I will anoint your head with oil…..your cup will overflow….with the mercy and love of God.”
You are appointed to be anointed by the Living and Present Jesus!
Come…and be anointed by the Anointed One of God!
If we were worshipping in person today, I would invite you to come forward to the altar to be anointed and appointed as God’s people in ministry and mission during Communion.
I would invite you to come forward to be healed of disease and doubt, to be claimed by Jesus for God’s Holy Kingdom.
But God is there wherever two or three are gathered to worship Him, even if it is over the Internet.
And so, as we receive the reconciling gifts representing the body and the blood of Jesus Christ, I invite you to come to the “virtual” altar today to claim your healing, and to devote your life in the service of Christ with “Anointed Faith.”
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Mark 1:29-39 NRSV
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.