The writer of Hebrews says that these words were spoken of the coming Messiah, but do they actually describe the One who came? As we walk through the Gospels do we see Jesus as one who was “anointed with the oil of gladness”? Isn’t He considered to be the “Man of Sorrows”? Wasn’t it on the muddy banks of the Jordan that He was anointed for a ministry of great suffering and pain? Wasn’t the inaugural address given by the Baptist – “Behold the Lamb of God!” – a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrificial work? Yes. So, are we now to change our view of Him from the man of sorrows into a man of joy? Are we to no longer see Him as the One who was so marred by the hands of man that He didn’t even look like a man, and begin now to see Him as One who is distinguished from all the men around Him by His perpetual, powerful gladness? If such is the case then it would indeed be a tremendous transformation of thinking.
But is such a revolution in revelation true? Is there such a drastic distinction between the sacrificial mind and the optimistic mind. I don’t think that there is such a marked difference. In fact, I believe that it was the Lord’s optimism that made Him so sacrificial. I believe that it was His positive view of our future that made Him willing to pour out His soul unto death. You see, you will find that it is the most optimistic spirit that will prove to be the most sacrificial spirit. We naturally give ourselves to a cause in direct proportion to the our positive prospect of its success.
When we talk of Christ’s bearing of the burdens of men, we must never forget that He did so because there is no One more hopeful for their future. Christ gave His life for mankind because nobody else has ever had a more positive view of man’s possibilities. He was led to Golgotha by the sight of such gladness that went before Him. He saw very clearly those who would be redeemed by His sacrifice. Nobody else has ever sacrificed so much because no one has ever hoped for more. He is the most positive person who has ever lived.
It is often said, “As long as there is life, there is still hope,” yet Christ’s optimism goes far beyond that kind of hope. His hope went even to those who were dead. There have been men who have healed the hurting by the side of the highway. There have been men who have sought to rescue the living among the dead. But Jesus lovingly looked for and leaned over those who were dead – the Lazarus’s, the sons of Nain, Jairus’ daughters – with such a sunlit spirit that even the darkness of death couldn’t diminish it.
This is the outlook – one of perpetual uplook – that I so long for. There is no way to last in the ministry if I am to be burdened with the complete hopelessness of the human soul and the absolute worthlessness of the human body. If I am to walk a little further into the Gethsemane of the infirmed then I must have a spirit that is lifted from above.
I read where Luke says that the disciples were “sleeping from sorrow” in the garden. I did not understand that until I came to understand that the reason those disciples slept when they should have been watching with Jesus was because they didn’t have any hope in Jesus. They despaired over Him when they should have delighted in Him. Thus, if we are to keep from falling asleep when we are to be on duty, our eyes must be anointed with the oil of gladness.
“Lord, anoint the eyes all those who work for You. Anoint the eyes of the ones who kneel beside the bed of suffering; allow them to see life, not death. Anoint the eyes of those who seek to save from sin; give them sight of the blood-washed band. Anoint the eyes of the ones who will knock on the doors of the grieving; may they see those things which do not die. Anoint those who stop by the humble homes of the poor; let them see a poverty that makes one rich. Anoint the eyes of those work in distant, dangerous lands; may they see the many rooms of the Father’s house. Anoint the eyes of those who teach our children; give them a view of mature men. Anoint the eyes of those who suffer; let them see the fact that they are being prepared to comfort as they have been comforted.” This is the preparation of the one who are called to follow Him.