Summary: This message looks at the gift of the Marys on the morning of the resurrection. This is the third part of a stewardship series.
They came in the dark. In the cold of early morning. They had come to give. The others had taken, but they only wanted to give. There would be no reward. No recognition. No return. They were giving out of love. After all what could Jesus give back? He was dead. What could a dead man offer? They were climbing the hill not to receive but to give.
They came to give their last gift to a dead man. They couldn’t bring him back to life, but they could still give him one last gift. They had come to wash the cold still body of their lord and to prepare it for its final rest. Peter wasn’t doing it; Andrew hadn’t jumped up and offered to help. Those he had healed were nowhere to be found, nor were the ones whose sins he had forgiven. I wonder if half way up the hill Mary Magdalene began to think “Why are we doing this?” “What about the eleven, where are they, or Jesus family?” We don’t know what they were thinking but we know what they were doing, they were giving.
They were giving in a physical sense because we are told that they took spices with them. But more than that they were giving of themselves. It was dark and it was cold and it probably would have been a whole lot more comfortable in a warm bed then it was in the damp morning air carrying a heavy bag of spice up a long hill to a grave yard. But that’s where they were. And they were giving to Jesus.
And so on the morning of the resurrection, before they knew the tomb was empty we see a gift being offered. A gift they bought and a gift they brought for Jesus. , They knew that if this was their act of worship than it would have to cost them something. And that principle is repeated throughout the New Testament, time and time again we see God’s people rise up to meet the need of God’s church.
One of the top three reasons given in an extensive survey of non believers as to why they didn’t attend church was “Because they are always asking for money.” I don’t blame people, I guess probably churches are constantly asking for money but I wonder why that is. And besides people don’t stop attending the Lions Club or the Rotary or the Kinsman and they are always asking for money.
Every year we have door knock appeals from the Red Cross, and the Cancer Fund, and the Kidney Foundation and a dozen other worthy causes and yet people don’t say “Hey they only interested in money.”
Maybe the reason the world feels negative about the church and finances is that they don’t feel like they are getting anything in return or that the church doesn’t contribute anything to the community.
But then again the bible doesn’t tell us that we are a service organization, and the only thing that the scripture requires us to put back into society is better people and I guess when everything is said and done that’s a pretty important contribution. But God never expected the world to support the church.
So Who is Expected to Give? The simple answer is those who love Jesus. The ladies who went to the tomb that day didn’t expect the Romans to take care of Jesus’ body or the crowd from Palm Sunday or the Jewish authorities. They had adopted the attitude “If it’s going to be it’s up to me.” From its very beginnings the church carried its own load. You can hunt through the New Testament and you won’t find any reference to the early church having a bagel drive to raise funds or having a Saturday catacomb sale or a chariot wash.
But you will find instances like Acts 2:44-45 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
And Acts 4:32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. Now that is a fairly radical concept of giving and a pretty radical concept of living. And nobody can really say whether or not that communal concept extended beyond the first generation of believers in Jerusalem.
But we know that the churches that sprung out of the initial movement continued to be generous. Even the Corinthian church which was criticized for sexual immorality and theological error was commended for their generosity in giving to the work of the kingdom. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he urged them to give, we can find that in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. The result of that admonition is found in 2 Corinthians 8:10 where Paul commended the Corinthians by saying: Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Wow not only were they the first to give but they wanted to give. Would kind of remind you of what Paul said about the Macedonian churches, listen to this, 2 Corinthians 8:2-4 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.