What is Rafiki doing to Simba?

In the opening scene of The Lion King, the baboon Rafiki plays the role of a priest.  He arrives at the celebration of the lion king’s son, Simba.  Simba will be the next king.  Thus a ceremony takes place.

Rafiki takes a coconut.  He breaks it open, dips his thumb into the liquid and sweeps his thumb across Simba’s forehead.

I often ask kids, “What is happening in this scene?”

They reply, “Simba is getting baptized.”

I reply, “It LOOKS like a baptism.  But it isn’t. Something else is happening.

The key is to understand what is contained inside of the coconut.  It’s not water (as would be used in a baptism).  Rather, inside of a coconut is–oil.  Any time you use lip balm, read the ingredients.  It will contain coconut oil.

Oil is used in a ceremony called “anointing.”

It is an ancient ceremony–seldom used in our day.  In fact, I have seen it used only one time in public–when watching news reels of Elizabeth II being ceremoniously installed as Queen of the United Kingdom.

The ancient nature of the ceremony is to understand the importance of oil in distant ages.  Oil was a treat–it felt good on parched skin.  Especially in a desert climate, whenever a guest came to one’s house, to pour oil over the guest’s head or feet felt cool and soothing.  “Thou anointest my head with oil” (Psalm 23).

To anoint means literally “to put the ointment on somebody.”  The favorable treatment of oil being put on a person came to be a way of singling out that person as being special.  Anointing became a way of ceremoniously indicating a new king.

When Elizabeth became Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury touched her forehead, heart and hands with oil.

In the Bible, anointing has the additional meaning of designating a person as receiving the Holy Spirit.  Thus, Elizabeth is anointed in a Church of England ceremony in which the Spirit of God is invoked to work through her mind, heart and hands.

The secular version of merely anointing a king is what Rafiki is doing to Simba.  The baby lion is being anointed with oil from the coconut.  He is being designated as the future king.

In the Bible, the word for “the anointed one” is (in the Old Testament)–“Messiah”; in the New Testament, “Christ.”

People tend to think that “Jesus” is God’s Name. Not so.  “Jesus” is just a common name in biblical times.  In the Old Testament, the name Jesus is said in Hebrew as “Joshua.”  Jesus and Joshua are the same name.  In fact, in the New Testament, Jesus isn’t even the only “Jesus”.  There are several others of that name.

What designates “Jesus” as being of God is the nickname:  “Messiah/Christ.”

Jesus is anointed because He is designated by God as being on a special mission.  “God was in Christ making friends with the world” (2 Corinthians 5:19).


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