The Oil of Gladness.
History remembers Jesus Christ as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. This entire prophecy portrayed the coming redeemer as "a man of sorrows" and "acquainted with grief"(Isaiah 53: 3, ESV). Every word announced the coming of a Savior who would lay down his life for the sins of many. These two verses reveal the intent of Isaiah---
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed
him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our
transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the
chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his
own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53: 4-6, ESV
Our observances of Christ's passion last month keep the horrible agony of his arrest, scourging, trial, and crucifixion fresh in our hearts and minds. It was the one thing he asked his followers to remember. Surely his atoning, sacrificial death is a pivotal memory in the annuls of history, memorialized in his words "Do this in remembrance of me..." (Luke 22:19, ESV). The Apostle Paul wrote why his death was to be such a profound lesson--- "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11: 26, ESV).
But, Jesus was more God's servant of Joy. The author of Hebrews clarified this when he wrote---
...looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set
before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the
throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so
that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 12: 2-3, ESV
It is interesting to note that these words were written for the followers of Christ so that we would not "grow weary and lose heart". This writer wanted us to know that Christ's endurance was his vision of "...the joy that was set before him." Yes, he was a man of sorrows, the prophesied suffering servant. But, Jesus was the suffering servant with deep, abiding joy.
Passages from Psalms and Hebrews indicated that Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness. Writing about the coming redeemer of Israel King David wrote---
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of
uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your
God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.
Psalm 45: 6-7, ESV
These powerful words were quoted almost verbatim by the unknown author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. His words were in the first chapter when the superiority of Jesus over the angels of heaven was explained. He wrote---
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has
anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions
Hebrews 1:9, ESV
Jesus endured the agonies of that horrible death because of joy, and that joy was given to him by the Father when he anointed his only begotten with the oil of gladness.
That gladness and joy were evident throughout his earthly ministry and most notably in his suffering and death. In my mind it was the oil of gladness that kept him silent during his trial. There many other actions that testified the influence of this oil of gladness during Passion Week. One that strikes me most notably is when he announced from the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30, ESV). Earlier he had explained his passion to the disciples. He said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work" (john 4:34, HCSB). The oil of gladness gave Jesus the man strength and endurance to finish what God had sent him to accomplish.
Joy is the spiritual grace that is ours when we live by Christ's standard. It is a fruit of the Spirit that should grow in every authentic Christian (see Galatians 5:23, ESV). Throughout the New Testament are many reminders of the joy that should mark our lives. Notes these few references----
You have been faithful over little, I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your
Matthew 25, 21, ESV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of
the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13, ESV
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm
in your faith.
2 Corinthians 1:24, ESV
Being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and
patience with joy.
Colossians 1:11, ESV
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe
in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.
1 Peter 1:8, ESV
Anointed with the oil of gladness, Nehemiah, the man who organized and accomplished rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, boldly acknowledged that "the joy of the Lord is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10, ESV).
The point? The joy in our lives is God's anointing with the oil of gladness. We should be equipped to finish the mission assignments given to us by God and do so glad and joyful hearts.
The anointing with the oil of gladness.