Anointed

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Isaiah 61:1

To anoint is to “smear or rub with oil, typically as part of a religious ceremony,” and is often associated with a person taking on a significant responsibility, such as king or priest. Aaron and his sons were washed, anointed, and given special clothing to become priests in ancient Israel (Exodus 40:12-15). Saul and David were both anointed by Samuel to be kings (1 Samuel 10:1, 1 Samuel 16:13). Even after David was chosen as Saul’s successor, he refused to harm Saul because he was “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6, 10, 1 Samuel 26:9, 11, 16, 23). Kings were also anointed in the Book of Mormon. (See Jacob 1:9, Ether 9:14-15, 21-22, Ether 10:16.)

The Hebrew word for “anoint” is mashach (מָשַׁח). A person who has been anointed is a mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ), which is sometimes transliterated in English as “messiah.”

In the passage quoted above, Isaiah describes a person who would be anointed by God to perform an extraordinary work. After studying the brass plates, the prophet Lehi taught his sons about this unique Messiah. Here’s Nephi’s description of his father’s words:

Six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.

And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things, concerning this Messiah, of whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world.

1 Nephi 10:4-5

The Greek word for anoint is chrió (χρίω). A person who has been anointed is a christos (χριστός), which is transliterated as “Christ.”

Throughout the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, Jesus is called Christ, “the Anointed One,” indicating that He was and is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Emphasizing the meaning of that title, Peter taught, “God anointed [Greek: echrisen] Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

In a January 1841 revelation, the Lord described three church leaders—Joseph Smith, Vinson Knight, and William Law—as “anointed” to serve in their callings (Doctrine and Covenants 124:57, 76, 91). He also included “anointings” in a list of activities which church members would be able to perform in the Nauvoo Temple (Doctrine and Covenants 124:39). This echoed the following passage from the dedicatory prayer on the Kirtland Temple:

Let the anointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high.

Doctrine and Covenants 109:35

Throughout the Book of Mormon, we are invited to take upon ourselves the name of Christ. (See 2 Nephi 31:13, Mosiah 5:8, Alma 34:38, Mormon 8:38.) During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He asked His disciples, “Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name?” (3 Nephi 27:5).

To take upon ourselves His name means that we are striving to be like Him and that we are willing to represent Him. Because the name “Christ” means a person who is anointed, it also means that we are willing to help Him do the work that He was anointed to do.

Today, I will strive to fulfill my responsibilities in the Church of Jesus Christ. I will remember that His name refers to the sacred responsibilities His Father gave Him. I will do my part to help Him fulfill those responsibilities.

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