Summary: Mary's lovely act, Judas' lowly attack, Jesus lavish adoration. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.

Smells Like Love

John 12:1-8

We're halfway through John, and the last half focuses on all the events of Passion Week, the days leading up to the cross. This is a gospel, and the good news is Jesus, and His cross!

Lazarus is at this table in v. 2. I bet he said grace at the meal, and what can you imagine him being thankful for? Being alive, maybe?!

1. The loving act of Mary.

"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."

When you love someone, you cannot help but to give to them.

For her birthday recently I got my wife a bag and a belt. I may have overestimated just how happy she would be about how well the vacuum would run from then on!

Another guy bought his girl an engagement ring, and had them inscribe on the inside, "For the only girl I could ever love." The worker asked, "Do you want her name then?" "Nah, this way if she says no I can reuse it."

Jesus was here in Bethany in chapter 11 when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Now He's back, and this time it is in connection with His own death. He is the guest of honor. If we add it up, there's at least 17 people there, including the disciples, and a leper named Simon, in whose house this is held. Many more are also gathered around.

Martha is in the kitchen, working, preparing the meal. Since these are preachers, we can assume it is fried chicken, fried ocre, lumpy mashed potatoes, and biscuits.

Mary is in the living room, worshipping at the feet of Jesus.

Lazarus is with all the boys at the table, witnessing, answering their questions about whether he saw a tunnel or a bright light.

Put all 3 together and you have a balanced Christian. Martha's work is important, as is Mary's worship. And this isn't the only time this scenario happened in Scripture. The other time is when Martha got mad that Mary wasn't helping. [Mark 14] Our text is later, and Martha is still working, but not frustrated, so she learned her lesson, because she also became a worshipper! We also see Mary serving at times. We need both work and worship. If you just sit, you soak and eventually sour. We take in spiritual energy when we sit, and we need to burn it up when we serve!

We couldn't be enjoying this service very well right now if it were not for the Martha's serving. Several Martha's are sacrificing right now and ministering to kids and babies. Somebody cleaned this place where we sit. And you couldn't hear me well now if somebody wasn't willing to leave their family seat and run the sound, and be willing to have no thanks if things go well but plenty of glares if something goes wrong! There would be no Sunday School for any age. We would never enjoy food and fellowship, outings and activities, or special music without the servants who make worship possible...and both are vitally important!

If you don't have a place of service, we'd be happy to plug you in where you would best be blessed and be a blessing.

Then there's Lazarus, who adds witnessing to work and worship.

v. 9 Don't you know this guy could draw a crowd. He was a walking witness. There must've been a lot of questions. Did it hurt? Tingle? Bright Light? Did time pass? Were you in heaven? What was it like when you woke up? Could you smell yourself?

You and I had a greater miracle happen to us, and we ought to be walking witnesses because we walk the resurrected life!

Mary's Gift:

Mary is a deeply spiritual woman, constantly worshipping at the feet of Jesus.

v. 3

It was a custom in those days to anoint a special guest with just a few drops of ointment or perfume on their head and feet. It was an act of courteous kindness. Hers was a precious ointment that was worth a full year’s wages. She uses not a few drops, but pours the entire contents out lavishly. This sort of oil was for anointing the dead, and she didn't pour it out on her dead brother a short while before!

Great Christians have appeared in all ages, and they have one thing in common – they live their lives with a reckless abandon when it comes to expressing their love for Jesus. They sacrifice to such a degree that they are sometimes criticized for it, as Mary was.

If you choose to live the sold out Christian life, don't be surprised if you are criticized for it. The Bible promises persecution for the serious Christian, who is faithful to more than just one service a week, who serves, and tithes, and sacrifices. And often it's the very people in your life who are supposed to encourage you who will tear you down about it. More about that next time as we see Judas' lowly attack...and Jesus' lavish adoration.

Mary is simply living out loud how she feels in her heart, and her extreme devotion overflows, and I tell you, that's a good thing!

Ill.—you see some face painter going overboard at a ball game and you say, “that’s great, they’re a fan!” But you see someone get excited about Jesus and say, “good night, they’re a fanatic.” [disparaging]

Ill.—it’s like our deer hunters...they approach their hobby w/ a reckless abandon. They spare no expense. They have to have the right gun, clothes, truck, camper, the deer tags, and they can’t go out there w/out a scent so genuine that they probably collected the sample from Bambi herself! They’ll spend big money, but no matter, you gotta get that deer! Some of the guys wanted to take me one year, and I know about 4 o’clock, I see it every afternoon...but they wanted to introduce me to another one I never knew about! But no matter, you gotta get that deer. You’ll hike for miles, refrain from speaking, eat grubs and worms, but it’s all for such a great cause!! Rain, snow, freezing temperatures...these all pale in comparison to the prize that may be won by day’s end!

I’m not criticizing you if you choose this odd way to unwind! I’m saying, would to God we could get so excited about serving Him, not in drudgery, out of duty, but w/ the same reckless abandon.

Why did Mary give this lovely, sacrificial gift to Jesus?

v. 7 Whether she understood or not, God led her to 'pre-anoint' Jesus for death...for what He's about to do for the whole world! And when she did, the end of v. 3 says that a sweet odor filled the house, and it was the smell, not of perfume, but of love! So, no matter where you went in the house, you could smell it, and it benefited everyone. This is the spill-over effect! She did not do it for everyone...she did it for Jesus.

Now, when you do what you do for Jesus, there is a spill-over effect that benefits others. A good missionary or pastor should do what he does for God, not just for the people. Because there will be times that people won't be lovable. Do what you do for God, who will always see it and reward it. And inevitably, the blessings will spill over to the people as well!

Sometimes it's those we do the most for who stab us in the back. Well, that hurts, but not so much when you were doing it for God, who still sees and appreciates and lifts you up!

ill.--if you sing a special to be a blessing to people, then you may quit when the people act un-blessable. Some will talk, some will sleep, some will criticize, but if you are singing for the Lord, it doesn't matter!

It's all about the heart. Matters of the heart are the heart of the matter. It doesn't matter what anyone says about you if your heart is right. God knows your heart.

ill.--Peter denied Christ just before His crucifixion. What a huge let down that was. And after Jesus' resurrection, the first time He sees Peter, what does He say to Him? "Do you love me?" [3 times]

We would have said, "I can't believe you were cursing, and denying, and being so fearful." Jesus knew those were symptoms of the real problem...a lack of love. Jesus knew that if Peter would really love Him, the cussing would take care of itself [denying / courage issue] Peter decided that day to love Jesus supremely, and served Him with reckless abandon, and wound up sacrificing his most valuable possession for Him, his life!

Now, how do you smell to God? If the degree of your love was manifested today by way of a scent, what would the room smell like?

This I find deeply convicting, because I tend to stray off the path into distractions of life that aren't focused upon the Lord. And most of us don't love God the way we think we do. Our lives testify as to what we truly love. Jesus said what we spend our money on speaks as to where our heart is!

Consecration is sacrifice. It is taking what is dearest to you, and laying it at the feet of Jesus!

ill.--a man loved his wife so much, that he sold something of great value of his to buy her some special expensive hair combs she had been wanting. He sold his favorite pockiet watch. Unbeknownst to him, she had cut off her hair and sold it in order to have money to buy him a gold chain for his pocket watch. Both wound up with gifts they could not use...and both kept them because of what they represented, sacrifice, and love. And you could sniff either unused item, and it had the scent of love!

Consecration is sacrifice. It is taking what is dearest to you, and laying it at the feet of Jesus!

What is your passion? A person? A hobby? Your bank account? A toy? A collection of things? It's ok to have interests, but we should have one great passion for the One at Whose feet we lay all our interests!

Next time...

2. The lowly attack of Judas.

3. The lavish adoration of Jesus.