Summary: Worship should be the most natural aspect of a Christian’s life.
Title: Counting The Cost Of Worship
Text: John 12:1-8
James Michener, writing in his book, The Source, tells the story of a man named Urbaal, who was a farmer living about 2200 B.C. He worshiped two gods, one a god of death, the other a goddess of fertility. One day, the temple priests tell Urbaal to bring his young son to the temple for sacrifice--if he wants good crops. Urbaal obeys, and on the appointed day drags his wife and boy to the scene of the boy’s "religious execution" by fire to the god of death. After the sacrifice of Urbaal’s boy the several others, the priests announce that one of the fathers will spend next week in the temple, with a new temple prostitute. Urbaal’s wife is stunned as she notices a desire written more intensely across his face than she had seen before, and she in overwhelmed to see him eagerly lunge forward when his name is called. The ceremony over, she walks out of the temple with her head swimming, concluding that "if he had different gods, he would have been a different man."
John 4:24 states, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Indeed, this is the desire of Christian people all over the world. Our church services are designed for just that very purpose, to worship God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
“But what is worship?” one might ask. “How do I worship God in spirit and in truth?” Warren Wiersbe quotes William Temple’s definition of worship.
“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.” (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 119.)
Simply stated, worship is that level of my relationship with God that is attained any time I set aside my own needs and desires, and focus absolutely on the person of Jesus Christ.
I. JESUS CHRIST DESIRES OUR WORSHIP. (John 12:1-2)
Illustration: After attending church one Sunday morning, a little boy knelt at his bedside that night and prayer, “Dear God, we had a good time at church today – but I wish you had been there!”
A. Worship Is Centered On An Intimate, Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ. (John 12:2)
1. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is what He desires. (John 11:32-36)
2. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ matters above all else.
Note: Jesus knew that the Jewish leaders were out to arrest Him and kill Him (John 11:53, 57), but He still returned to Bethany, only two miles from the very fortress of His enemies. Why? So that He might spend a quiet time with His dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1, Victor Books, 1989, p. 338.)
Illustration: The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn’t know what to do. Napoleon’s massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church. The pastor rose and said, “Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord’s resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us.” The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left. (source unknown)
B. Our Ability To Worship Is Facilitated By Our Willingness To Serve. (John 12:2)
Illustration: If you think the SAT tests are tough, don’t bother applying to the University of Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt. Though the ancient school has been graduating students for more than a thousand years, the qualifying exam is far more challenging than any devised by the Educational Testing Service. Each year, every incoming freshman is required to recite the entire Koran from memory. The text of this Islamic holy book is nearly as long as the New Testament and takes three days to repeat. But every one of Al Azhar’s 20,000 students has passed the test. (Campus Life, December 1979)