“Rise and Anoint Him; For This Is The One” – 03-30-14 – Lent 4 – Cycle A

Listen to the sermon here:

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Eight brothers, each a possible king to follow Saul who had lost favor with God. The father of these eight brothers was Jesse. Samuel was given the privilege of anointing one of these brothers as the second king of Israel. Samuel was that little boy whose mother had brought him to live at the temple to learn from Eli the priest. God called Samuel in the night to which Samuel responded “Here I am, Lord.” Now we find Samuel enmeshed in this new model of Israel having kings because they nagged God until God relented and had Saul anointed as king. Saul lost his rational thinking and needed to be taken out of the position of king.

Enter our account today. God instructed Samuel to go to this person named Jesse and anoint one of his sons. Samuel was not allowed to make the choice. God had pre-arranged a son to be born to Jesse who would become the second king. This was a dramatic game. One son at a time was brought before Samuel, but each time God said, “This is not the one.” Seven sons passed before Samuel, each one could have passed for a king. But God said, “No.”

Finally, Samuel asked Jesse if he might have a son who was not present. “Oh, yes,” said Jesse. “Young David is out watching the sheep.” Samuel said, “Bring him here. We are not going to sit until David appears in front of me.” So there. How long do you suppose it took for someone to run to David and both run back from a sheep pasture? I am wondering if it is a literal fact that this family of men stood all that time. First, the sheep pasture could have been far from the spot where the men are standing. Second, maybe the messenger and David walked instead of running.

We don’t know. There are so many details we don’t know as we read the Bible. We need to look for the core message. We need to widen our perspective to gather the essence of the scene, of the drama. Well, in time, however long that was, David appeared. The writer of Samuel describes David as being ruddy, having beautiful eyes, and being handsome. God said, “This is the One; rise and anoint him.” Samuel lifted the horn of oil which God had instructed Samuel to bring. Samuel poured the oil over David’s head and shoulders and declared David as King of Israel. This anointing caused the Spirit of the Lord to come mightily upon David from that day forward.

There is a problem here. Saul was still in power when David was anointed as king by Samuel. However, this all moved according to the plans of God. God’s instruction to Samuel was clear. “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.”

In our New Testament Lesson today, Ephesians 5:8-14, Paul is coaching us to be children of light. Paul declares, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” When we live in the light of Christ, we are more likely to live lives that reflect that light. Therefore, our living will be pleasing to God. Paul says that our lives shall not be secret. One of the Bibles I have uses cartoons to make the points of the scripture. A cartoon to illustrate Paul’s comments here is a person blindfolded crawling on the street, heading directly toward an open hole as city streets have for underground utilities. In contrast is a person, not blindfolded, next to a bright light bulb. The caption reads, “Don’t crawl around in the dark! Walk in the light!

Does this idea have any connection to David in his life after being anointed? Well, we find that God is very, very happy with David as King. We think David wrote many of the Psalms including Psalm 23 where we read, “… you anoint my head with oil.” Apparently, most of the time David walked in the light, using reason, intelligence, fairness and obedience to God in his governing.

But, David walked into darkness when it seems all reason left his brain and heart. You may remember the story of Bathsheba and David and the murder of Bathsheba’s husband all because of lust. God sent a prophet named Nathan to bring David from his crawling mode into convicting light. Nathan told David about a rich person who had many good sheep in his own pastures. But when a guest arrived at the rich man’s home, the rich man gave instruction to his servants to kill a poor person’s only sheep instead of killing one of his own, numerous sheep. David commented that the rich man would certainly be punished. Remember David is King.

But then Nathan dropped the bombshell: David is that man. David had plenty of wives; yet he yearned for a woman who was the only wife of a decent man. When Nathan had thus removed the blindfold from David’s eyes, David walked in the light. This was not a happy light by any means. This was a convicting light and David needed to crawl again, not in darkness, but in repentance. Yes, God punished David. No, God did not remove David from his kingship. David continued as a king, blessed by God.

I am thinking of Paul’s words in the 1st Century A.D., as they could be reflecting on David’s life around 1000 B.C., “Sleeper awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” As Samuel anointed David on that search for the second king, he would not have known all that would follow. Samuel was simply following the instructions of God.

Moving to the 1st Century A.D., here is Jesus seeing a man who was born blind. The disciples of Jesus asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus promptly answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. … As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Wasting no time, Jesus made a mixture of mud and spread the mud on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus told the man, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.” The man obeyed. The man could see. This caused quite a stir among the persons who witnessed this miracle. This healing happened to take place on the Sabbath. That was not allowed. No work on the Sabbath. This matter was taken to the Pharisees, the leaders who kept track of offenses. Surely, Jesus is a sinner because he worked on the Sabbath. However, other people asked how a sinner could have done this healing. Division sprang into existence.

This man born blind, who now sees, was driven out of town. Jesus searched until he found the banished person. Jesus said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man questions what this means and who is it. Jesus explains that one of his working titles is “Son of Man.” The man said, “Lord, I believe.” I can picture the man being lifted from a doubter position to a believer position. This symbolic picture can be summarized in the word “Rise.”

We rise from our worldly mode, our worldly position, to the believer’s position, to an increasingly holy position. Rise to the occasion, rise to receive healing, rise to do our share in the kingdom, rise to be received into the blessed life eternal. Even as we cringe in the valley of death or in the valley of debt – both as in sin and as in money, we shall appreciate the green meadows, we shall appreciate the still waters, the calm days. In those tumultuous seasons in our lives, we shall raise our eyes to the rod and the staff of the shepherd. We may be lying flat on our backs in the valley, the water may be rising to cover us, bury us, but we can cling to this Savior, this Shepherd.

Don’t you see that table? It is being prepared for us. There are all kinds of variations on this scene. Some of us picture a group of us seated at the table while our enemies are standing with shoulders and faces forward around the edge of the room, watching us enjoy this sumptuous banquet, hungry for this banquet themselves.

Some of us see the table as an intimate table for two – for just Jesus and you. Some preachers have suggested that the enemies are no longer enemies but are gathered intermingled at this either huge table or intimate table of one enemy, one you, and Jesus. Oh, perhaps it would be many enemies gathered at table with one you. How many enemies do you think you have? How many enemies do I think I have? Would there be a table big enough for all the people whom I have caused to be enemies because I have hurt them in some way during my life? Frankly, I belong along the wall as an enemy. The most wonderful thought is that the concept of “enemy” does not exist in heaven. We would all be friends around that table not even remembering the earthly enemy idea.

Remember in our baptism we are each anointed by water and word. We are accepted as children of God. Remember that David was restored to God’s good graces after having sinned in great measure. Remember that our own weaknesses could have happened so that our healing could be a witness to the people who watch and could bring glory to God. Let us rise from our present busyness and get busy with the kingdom of God. Maybe some of us need to rise from our current laziness and get busy bringing the kingdom of God on earth. We need to be saying, “Lord, I believe!”

Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world who brings us to attention. By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit. Amen.