When The Messiah Gives Us A Makeover

CALL TO WORSHIP: God’s saving love surrounds us like a new outfit. So let us rejoice in Him. We will praise God with everything we have.

Loving Lord, the Bible tells us that when Your people returned to Jerusalem, they laughed and sang for joy, because they were coming home. We thank You that here in Your house we can feel at home, because You welcome us as members of Your family.

Fill our hearts with joy and gladness as we worship You today. May this joy spread throughout our churches and spill over so that it touches everyone we meet. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

HYMN 439: I’LL PRAISE MY MAKER, WHILE I HAVE BREATH -StF.

PRAYER OF ADORATION: Listen to what the Bible says: When the LORD brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream!

Lord, we know how it feels to have a dream that is so lovely, that when we wake up, we are sad that it isn’t true. You have made every good thing around us, and we thank You for Your goodness.

We thank You that as we begin this service, we know that what You have prepared for us is better than the very best dream. Your saving love was woven into Your creation from the very beginning, but to see what that love looks like we need to look at Jesus.

Now, in this Advent Season, as we wait for His coming, we are full of excitement for we know that the best is still to come. Fill our hearts with joyful hope, as we prepare to receive the best gift of all, Your Son Jesus, to be our Lord and our Saviour. Amen

TALK FOR ALL: LIFTED UP (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11)

I like to put something from nature on my table, so I can look at it while I enjoy a meal. It is a way of bringing a piece of God’s creation up close; a way to appreciate the beauty of what God has given us. It could be a seashell, an unusual stone, a small pumpkin or gourd, a pine cone, or flowers. Can you think of other things from nature you would like to put on your table.

Lately I’ve had a pot of beautiful purple pansies on my breakfast table. When I went to the table this morning I saw that the pansies were all drooped over, looking very sad. They needed water. I poured water over the soil and within an hour the pansies had lifted themselves up and were looking happy once again.

Feeling God’s love is like what happens to pansies when they receive a sprinkling of water. God’s love makes us strong and lifts us up.

A prophet in the Bible says, “The Spirit of the Lord (God) is on me” (61:1). This prophet goes on to say that God sent him to preach the good news of God’s love to others and to comfort those who are sad.

When you receive God’s Spirit of Love and have that in your life, you rise up, bringing joy and beauty and comfort to others.

All around us “the earth brings forth its bud” (61:11). You can bloom too. Rise up with God’s love to do good things for others and for the world. AMEN

HYMN 173: INTO THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD – StF

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING

The Bible gives us helpful instructions as to how we should live as we wait for the coming of Jesus. When we read these instructions, we realise that we need to hear these words,

Just as much as the people who first heard them. This is what the Bible says:

“Always be joyful”. Lord, forgive us when we allow problems to overcome the joy that we should have in You.

“Never stop praying”. Lord, forgive us when we are too busy to talk or listen to You.

“Be thankful in all circumstances”. Lord, forgive us when we hurt You and others by our grumbles and complaints.

“Do not stifle the Holy Spirit”. Lord, forgive us when we hinder Your work by the things we say or do.

“Hold on to what is good”. Lord, forgive us when we do not value the good things that You give us.

John the Baptist came to tell people to be sorry for the wrong things they had done, because Jesus was coming. We thank You Lord that when we are sorry, You do forgive us. Help us to have clean hearts and minds, so that we are ready to welcome Jesus when He comes. In His name we pray. Amen

READINGS: ISAIAH 61: 1-4, 8-11

HYMN 89: STRENGTH WILL RISE AS WE WAIT UPON THE LORD– StF

SERMON: “When the Messiah Gives Us a Makeover” (Isaiah 61:1-4, 10-11)

Have you ever seen one of those makeover shows on TV? My daughter used to watch one. It was called “What Not to Wear.” The idea of the show was that they would select a woman whose wardrobe and appearance wasn’t that great. Then they would help her pick out some new clothes that would look better on her. They would give her a nice haircut and do up her makeup. So this woman, who at the start of the program was looking all drab and dowdy, by the end of the program was looking like a million bucks. And she would be absolutely delighted with the results. The makeover had made a big difference.

Well, today I want to tell you about an even better makeover. And the good news is, it’s for you. It’s for all of us. And it’s free of charge. This makeover will make the biggest difference in your life, and you will be absolutely delighted with the results. What I want to tell you about now is “When the Messiah Gives You a Makeover.”

When the Messiah gives you a makeover: That is what is described in the Old Testament reading for today, from Isaiah 61. First, we meet the Messiah. Second, we hear about the makeover he gives us. And third, we respond with rejoicing and exultation.

First, we meet the Messiah. I guess I should explain what is meant by that term. “Messiah,” or “Mashiach,” is a Hebrew word, and it means “Anointed.” In the Old Testament, when someone was anointed, that person literally had oil poured over their head. No, not motor oil, silly. No, it was some sort of fragrant olive oil, perhaps, and that was the anointing. Certain persons were anointed for a very specific reason: for instance, when God had chosen that person to hold an important office. Aaron was anointed when he was chosen by the Lord to be the first high priest. And of course David was anointed when the Lord chose him to be the king of Israel. The prophet Samuel came and poured oil over David’s head, and this signified that God’s favour, choice, power, and blessing–that God’s Spirit would rest upon just this one, David, to hold just this office, that of king. That was the point of the anointing.

Well, later on, when David was king, the Lord told David that one of his descendants would be an even greater king, who would have an everlasting kingdom. This Son of David to come, prophesied and promised by God, became known as the Messiah, the Anointed One. He hadn’t come yet, but Israel was looking forward to his coming.

This is the context for our text in Isaiah 61. It is a prophecy of the coming Messiah. We meet the Messiah in this passage. We even hear him speak. He says: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour,” and so on.

The Messiah is speaking! Listen to those wonderful words of his! First, he says that the Spirit of the Lord God is upon him. This is his anointing. He is saying that he is the Messiah, the Anointed One. Does this description fit anyone we know? Why, yes, of course. Think about when Jesus–who, by the way, was from the line of David–think about when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. What happened? The Holy Spirit came down out of heaven and rested upon him. Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit. And the Father’s voice affirmed his choice: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Clearly this was Jesus being anointed into his office as the Messiah.

And then early on in his ministry, at the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus stood up to read the lesson for that day, and he unrolled the scroll of Isaiah, and he read the very words of our text: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me,” etc., to do all the wonderful things Messiah would do. And when he read this, Jesus then said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” So Jesus is the Messiah. He’s the one Isaiah foresees in our text. By the way, the Greek equivalent for the word “Messiah” is “Christ.” “Christos” means “Anointed One.” So Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who will do the great makeover on us.

Now let’s hear what that makeover will look like. This is our second point today. The Messiah tells us the makeover he will give us. He says: “to grant to those who mourn in Zion–to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.” So there’s a “before” picture and an “after” picture. The “before” picture is kind of sad. We appear all sad and bedraggled and beat down. The miseries of life have taken their toll on us. We’re in a state of mourning. Ashes were a sign of mourning. We have a faint spirit, weak and worn down.

This is a picture of us, dear friends. We are those who mourn in Zion. We mourn over our own sins and sinfulness. They weigh us down. They afflict our conscience. And we mourn over the wear and tear that just living in this sin-fallen world takes on us. We mourn the death and loss of those we love. We sorrow over the sin and sadness we see all around us. It is a grievous thing. This world really is a vale of tears.

But then Messiah presents us with the “after” picture, after he will do his makeover on us. Now we see ourselves with a beautiful headdress on our heads. Christ is saying, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” Eternal life–that is a beautiful headdress indeed! And even now Jesus gives us the oil of gladness, to refresh our spirits as we travel through this dry and dusty wilderness. He clothes us with the garment of praise, praise to God, from whom all blessings flow. The Messiah gives us this makeover free of charge. Free to us, but at great price to him. For to do this, to give us the crown of life, Jesus himself had to wear a crown of thorns. He was mocked with a scarlet robe, beaten and flogged. He was stripped of his garments, stripped of his dignity, and nailed to a cross. Jesus did this for us. This was the price he willingly paid for our salvation. This was the blessed exchange the Messiah undertook to give us our makeover. He took our sins and gives us his righteousness. He took our death and gives us his life, the same life that triumphed o’er the grave on Easter Day and now lives forevermore. What a makeover this is!

And so what is our response? We say yes to the dress! Faith is simply saying yes to the dress that Jesus so freely gives us. This is our third point: We respond to Messiah’s makeover with rejoicing and exultation. Listen now to what we say in our reading from Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in Holy Baptism we were clothed and covered with the robe of Christ’s perfect righteousness. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” When God sees us now, he sees us righteous and radiant, pure and clean. All because of the Messiah’s makeover.

“As a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” When people get married, they are usually “dressed to the nines,” as the saying goes. The bridegroom is wearing some fancy duds. On his wedding day, at least, he really is a sharp-dressed man. And the bride? Whoa, the bride! Radiant, resplendent, gorgeous, beautiful, looking her loveliest! Well, that’s the kind of makeover Christ does for his church. The apostle Paul puts it like this in Ephesians: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Friends, Christ has clothed us with the garments of salvation. This is our daily dress. Each new day, we put on Christ and live as his holy people. It changes the way we live. We take off the old, filthy clothes of sin and meanness and selfishness. That’s what not to wear. What to wear? We put on the new garments of love and kindness and forgiveness and generosity. Clothed with Christ, robed in baptismal newness of life, we live as God’s holy people. The Messiah’s makeover has this effect on us.

And so we rejoice. For all of these reasons, and more, we rejoice and exult. We say with Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God.” “O bride of Christ, rejoice; exultant raise thy voice.” “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.”

This king is the Messiah, the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who is coming to us. He comes at Christmas to do his big makeover job. He will come again at the Last Day, when we will see with our eyes the glorious results of his mighty makeover. Until then, we see with the eyes of faith, saying yes to the dress our Messiah gives us. When the Messiah gives you a makeover, it really is something to rejoice in!

HYMN 610: BEST OF ALL IS GOD IS WITH US – StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION: The use of a yellow ribbon as a symbol of faithful waiting has been around for at least four hundred years. Today, we remember that we await the coming of Jesus at Christmas, but also anticipate that He will return one day as He promised. We, too, seek to wait with patience and faithfulness.

Let us ask God to help us to live faithfully as we wait on the coming of Jesus. Let us also remember those who wait for His coming with patience.

Gracious God, Your word is reliable, and Your promises sure. Help us to be thankful for the promise of Jesus, and be with us and with others in our watching and waiting. Amen

HYMN 185: SING WE THE KING WHO IS COMING TO REIGN -StF

BLESSINGS: May God himself make us holy and whole, and keep us fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. God who has called us is completely dependable, and He will do it. And may the Blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon us and remain with us always. Amen