Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.(Acts 4:24–28)
The crucifixion of Jesus was a horrifying surprise for his followers. No one was expecting the Messiah to be murdered. He was the Anointed One, the promised King that would save his people, deliver them from all their enemies, and give them eternal life. In their minds, he was coming to triumph and reign, not to die.
He came with authority — explaining the Old Testament, confounding the scribes and Pharisees, and awing the crowds. He came with power — healing the sick, calming the storm, and even raising the dead. He came with hope — calling sinners and tax collectors, promising freedom and forgiveness, and preaching the gospel wherever he went. And then he died. And laying in that tomb, he left everyone wondering if he really was the Anointed One.
The Goal of God’s Anointed
The question we all need to ask is what work was Jesus anointed for? What kind of victory did he come to complete? What did it mean for him to become King? When Herod, Pilate, and the angry crowds crucified him, were they undoing the Christian good news, or were they actually carrying out exactly what God had lovingly planned from before the foundation of the world?
Acts 4 declares with unusual clarity and comfort that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and that everything that happened those bloody days at Calvary was part of God’s all-knowing, merciful, and invincible purpose to save his people. When Jesus was murdered on those wooden beams, God was not losing. He was delivering the deathblow to sin, Satan, and death itself. Long before Jesus ever walked on this earth, God had written the script — every dark, gruesome, but important detail — in love for his sinful, but chosen children.
Tim Keller paraphrases Jesus, saying:
Yes, I’m the Messiah, the King, but I came not to live but to die. I’m not here to take power but to lose it; I’m here not to rule but to serve. And that’s how I’m going to defeat evil and put everything right. (King’s Cross, 97)
Risen, Reigning, and Satisfying
In case we had any doubts about who was in control and prevailing at the cross, three days later God raised his Anointed. And having raised him to live and reign at his right side, God has “highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).
Therefore, the name of Jesus is our banner for hope, joy, and victory. It is the rallying point for everyone who died with him at the cross (Romans 6:6), and has been raised to new and everlasting life through his resurrection (Ephesians 2:6). So we sing...
Your name is like honey on my lips.
Your Spirit like water to my soul.
Your word is a lamp unto my feet.
Jesus, I love you.
And we ask the Lord with the disciples in Acts 4:29–30, “Grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”