Summary: Showing our Faith throught the hard times.
Expressing Our Faith
Introduction: In our lives we have a choice. We might respond to Jesus in a conventional way, "going through the motions," or we might surrender our lives to Him as an expression of our faith no matter how unconventional it may seem. Our lesson today contrasts these differing ways to respond to the Gospel.
1. The Occasion (John 12:1, 2).
A. An Honorary Meal. Six days before Passover, Jesus and His disciples came to Bethany. They stopped to have a meal with Lazarus and his family. Lazarus was there, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Martha was the host. To most, this seemed a normal occurrence. Jesus had blessed them and now they were hosting a dinner in His honor. This seems very sensible and conventional.
B. A Final Opportunity. What the disciples and most of the dinner guests didn’t realize was how close they were to the most important moment in history. Jesus had been prophesying His death to the disciples repeatedly (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33, 34; Luke 9:44). At this point, Jesus was traveling towards his Crucifixion in Jerusalem (Mark10:33, 34). The beginning of the end, was upon them. No one except
Mary seemed to understand the gravity of what was about to take place. Mary didn’t see an ordinary occasion, but a final opportunity to express her faith to the Savior at the crux of His ministry.
2. The Response (John 12:2b, 3).
A. Lounging with Friends. At this meal, the disciples, Lazarus, and Jesus were "reclining" (v. 2, NIV). The word comes from a root word meaning "to be laid up," or, "to lie." It emphasizes the relaxed atmosphere of being served at a table. We get the idea that, to most of the dinner guests, this was a typical and casual gathering to honor Jesus.
B. Anointing the Savior. Mary was far from a typical person. She knew the Lord would not be with them much longer. His days were numbered. Mary had invested over a year’s worth of wages into a pint of pure nard, an incredibly expensive perfume (Mark 14:5, NIV). In those days, spices and perfumes were used in the burial process (see Mark 16:1). Mary recognized the occasion for what it really was and seized the opportunity in a tremendous act of faith: using the perfume, she anointed the Lord for burial, wiping it off with her own hair (John 12:7).
3. The Reaction (John 12:48).
A. Judas’ Reaction (vv. 46). Judas asked, in effect, "Why waste a year’s wages on one man’s feet at dinner? We could have used that money to do all kinds of ministry!" That sounds logical, financially responsible, intelligent, and strategic. We might have elected him as chairperson of the financial committee; but our text says Judas’ intent was to hoard the money for himself. His true motives should be described as selfish, deceitful, and criminal.
B. Jesus’ Reaction (vv. 7, 8). We may have responded to Mary’s expression of faith as irresponsible, emotion-driven, or foolish. How did Jesus respond?
During His ministry on earth, Jesus reacted strongly to several acts of faith (Matt. 8:10, 15:28; Luke 5:19, 20), but His reaction to Mary stands above them all. He said, "Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her" (Mark 14:9 NASB). No wonder such an act should go hand in hand with the gospel, for this is how everyone should respond to Jesus! Mary either read the Old Testament or heard from Jesus’ mouth that He was to die and she believed it. She knew His death was of such magnitude that she should be willing to do anything to express her faith in Him. She displayed submission of both her material possessions and her own body; she surrendered everything to Jesus.
Did you enter this worship service thinking that just going to church, doing good things, or praying occasionally are appropriate expressions of faith? While these things are good, Jesus deserves much more. We are to follow Mary’s example in response to the Gospel. We must first believe that Jesus’ Crucifixion is the key to our salvation and then be willing to lay down our pride, our material possessions, and anything that may be required to follow Him.