Building One Another

E. Stanley Ott


September 10, 2013

Dear Friend,

A common practice we discover in the Bible is that of anointing. The physical act of anointing is to touch, smear, or pour oil or some other substance on a person. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil to be king. I Samuel 16:13 Mary anointed Jesus with costly perfume. John 12:3

The word Christ as in Jesus Christ actually means “anointed.” Jesus is the Anointed One. He was baptized by John the Baptist, an anointing. The Holy Spirit settled upon Jesus as a dove, an anointing. Mary poured oil on his feet, an anointing. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”* Luke 4:18  

Here is a wonderful thought. Jesus, the Anointed One, anoints you! “But you have been anointed by the Holy One.” 1 John 2:20  “But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us.” 2 Corinthians 1:21 We see this clearly in the act of baptism, the water as the visible expression of the anointing presence of the Holy Spirit.

Three words help me remember the significance of anointing:  sign, seal, and sending.

A sign. As a sign an anointing is the visible expression of an invisible reality of love. When I kiss my grandchildren it is a sign of my love, a visible expression of my love. Through the anointing of your baptism, your Lord is saying to you, this is a sign that I love you. 

A seal. As a seal an anointing is a mark of belonging, of ownership. When you sign a legal document a person called a notary public puts a seal on the document to verify that the signature belongs to you. When you are baptized it is a sign that you are God’s beloved and it is also a seal marking you with the Holy Spirit as belonging to God.

A sending. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil to be king and the Spirit of God came mightily on David. God had a mission in mind for David and God has a mission in mind for you in the power of the Spirit! Our Lord has shaped you for loving service and given his Spirit to sustain you.

In your anointing our Lord is saying, “By this sign I tell you I love you, by this seal I mark you as my own, and by this sending with the Spirit I have work for you to do!"

With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV