Summary: Jesus isn’t content to enter our lives and leave us alone so we can do what we want. He’s not even satisfied with a few moments of our day or a couple of hours on Sunday mornings. He enters our life in order to be in charge. He comes in to make changes
oing something beautiful for God is, for Mother Teresa, what life is about. Everything, in that it is for God, becomes beautiful, whatever it may be; ... Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity provide a living witness to the power and truth of what Jesus came to proclaim. His light shines in them. When I think of them in Calcutta, as I often do, it is not the bare house in a dark slum that is conjured up in my mind, but a light shining and joy abounding. I see them diligently and cheerfully constructing something beautiful for God out of the human misery and affliction that lies around them. One of their leper settlements is near a slaughterhouse whose stench in the ordinary way might easily make you retch. There, with Mother Teresa, I scarcely noticed it; another fragrance had swallowed it up so writes a liberal theologian who traveled with Mother Teresa. What made the difference for Mother Teresa and those who shared in her ministry was the presence of Jesus.
In all of Christendom from the Catholic to the Reformed to the Anabaptist, the heterodox and other versions one overarching truth is that Jesus is with those who believe. It’s a belief that brings comfort in the hard times. It’s a certainty that offers hope when situations seem hopeless. It’s a truth that gives power and strength to “stand” when the world comes against us. And it’s a truth worth sharing with the world that hasn’t yet believed.
From the prophesies of his birth in which he is called “Emmanuel”—God with us to the end of Matthew’s gospel where he declared “I am with you always…” Jesus is the one who is present with us. The New Testament refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Jesus. This Spirit is the “seal of ownership” (God’s mark) on our lives. And the constant source of comfort, prayer support, and encouragement as we live out a life following Jesus.
It is the presence of Jesus within and with us that can change the stench of slaughterhouses into something worthwhile. It’s His presence that causes us to look beyond what is visible to see what God intended, to see what God hopes to happen and to visualize the power of God at work in a world scared and broken by sin.
What causes this type of change to happen is our saying “yes” to Jesus’ offer to be the Lord and Savior of our life. Some of the changes Jesus takes us through aren’t as picturesque as I described. When Jesus is present in our lives it cramps our lifestyle and demands we make better choices, leave off old sinful ways of living and take on a new set of attitudes and behaviors. His presence confronts the old agendas and goals and we can a continual discomfort with these till we adopt God’s will and direction for our lives.
Jesus isn’t content to enter our lives and leave us alone so we can do what we want. He’s not even satisfied with a few moments of our day or a couple of hours on Sunday mornings. He enters our life in order to be in charge. He comes in to make changes and to offer us the ability to be changed.
In the days before entering Jerusalem Jesus stops by Lazarus’ house in Bethany. Martha, like usual was serving, Lazarus, the talk of the town since his resurrection was there, and Mary, the one who listened intently o Jesus before was also present. His disciples were there to as well as other Jesus groupies of the day.
It doesn’t say what Jesus spoke about while at dinner but I imagine his upcoming trip and all it meant is a real possibility. Perhaps told these three as he had his disciples that he was going to be killed when he got to Jerusalem. Whatever he said made an impression on Mary. What kind of impression? A big one. So big that she took the most expensive asset she had and poured perfumed oil over Jesus’ feet and wiped it off with her hair.
As the smell spread throughout the house and as the shock among those there wore off Judas Iscariot points out the obvious wastefulness of her act. And Jesus defends her by telling Judas she was right to do what she did.
Forget that Judas was a thief at heart. Forget any discussion of social concerns verses individualistic worship…what we have in Mary and Judas are two responses to having Jesus live with us. When we gather at our dinner table with Jesus there or when we gather at this communion table we are forced to ask ourselves whether we act like Mary or Judas.