Saturday, July 20, 2013
Water and Oil: Sacrifice and Worship: Part 2 – New Testament
As we have seen, water and oil play an important role in sacrifice and worship throughout the Old Testament. The ultimate sacrifice is Jesus Christ Himself, the perfect Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) by paying the price and taking upon Himself the punishment for all our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Just as the elements of water and oil are significant in temple worship, they also appear in His sacrifice, given freely so that all who place their faith in His death, burial and resurrection would have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16).
Although fully divine, Jesus came in the flesh by water and by blood (1 John 5:6), signifying the physical birth experienced by all mankind. Frankincense, an aromatic oil in resin form, was one of the three gifts brought by the wise men who worshipped Jesus as a young Child (Matthew 2:11). Incense was used by priests in temple worship and offerings, and this gift symbolized the role He would play as great High Priest Who sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us. Myrrh. an aromatic oil-based ointment also offered to Jesus, was a costly spice used to anoint the dead, connoting that He came to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
A sinful woman lavishly worshipped Jesus by washing His feet with her tears and breaking open an expensive box of oil-based ointment to anoint His feet (Luke 7:37-48). Shedding tears is an expression of our repentance and Godly sorrow, softening our hearts for His cleansing from sin (Psalm 6:60;119:136; Jeremiah 9:1,18; Lamentations 3:48) Another scene depicts a devoted woman anointing Jesus’ head with precious ointment, which He realizes is in preparation for His death and burial (Matthew 26:7-13)
In these perfumed ointments, the sweet spices adhere to the oil base, which sustains and preserves their fragrance. Similarly, when the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the fruit of the Spirit adheres to Him, allowing others to perceive His presence in our hearts from the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance He reveals (Galatians 5:22-23).
The last supper of Jesus Christ with His disciples before His crucifixion featured wine, or fluid pressed from grapes, representing the new covenant in His shed blood, which would cleanse believers from their sins. The bread, symbolizing His body, broken for us, was made from oil and water as well as grain (Matthew 26:26-29). Whenever we celebrate the communion of the Lord’s Supper, it is an act of worship commemorating His death to save us from our sins (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Before His crucifixion, Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32), praying so fervently that His sweat became drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Interestingly, Gethsemane means “olive press.” Before olives can yield their pure, virgin olive oil that nourishes and sustains us, they must be bruised and crushed. The body of Jesus was beaten, scourged, and battered, His lungs crushed by the struggle on the cross, so that we could all receive His pure gift of eternal life.
Hyssop, another aromatic oil used in sacrifices as a form of purification in temple worship, appeared again on Calvary when the Roman soldiers held it to Jesus’ mouth in a vinegar-soaked sponge (John 19:29). As He died for us, water flowed from His pierced side (John 19:34), and later the women prepared His body for burial with spices rich in aromatic oils (Luke 23:56).
Now that His work is finished, we no longer need animal sacrifices, but we do still need spiritual cleansing “with the washing of water by the word,” (Ephesians 5:26). Before we approach His throne in prayer, we should have “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22).
One of the first acts of worship and obedience offered by a new babe in Christ, by one who has been born again, is baptism by immersion to signify our belief in His death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). This water baptism is the outward manifestation of our obedience, whereas our internal conversion is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist called the latter a “baptism with fire,” foreshadowing the flaming tongues lighting on the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), and contrasting it with the water baptism he practiced as a symbol of repentance (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16).
Evidence of our salvation is the fruit of the Holy Spirit visible in our lives, allowing us to illuminate others with His light shining through us and to nourish them with His living water flowing through us. May we be as the wise virgins (Matthew 25), awaiting the Bridegroom’s return with our oil lamps full and burning brightly!
© 2013 Laurie Collett