Summary: A sermon based on John 12 on the anointing of Jesus for burial by Mary. A look at the true disciples of Jesus Christ who remain faithful to the bitter end.
Faithful to the bitter end?
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God brings souls to him through various circumstances in life. People become believers and what a joy that is. However, some people quit when the going gets tough and only a remnant faithful to the Lord. How is your Christian walk? Are you faithful when the going gets tough?
Faithful to the bitter end?
In John 11, you have the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Because of the proximity of Bethany to Jerusalem, the word of this miracle spread through Jerusalem. So, the chief priests and leaders were planning to kill Jesus.
Because his time had not come, Jesus moved to Ephraim for a couple of weeks. When you come to John 12, His time had come. So, Jesus is coming to the Bethany. He will die at this Passover on Friday. This is the point where the Passion Week begins. Chapter 12 to the end covers the final week of the Lord Jesus Christ, so everything gets very intense from here on.
John presents Jesus as the only Savior of the world, the only hope of eternal life. In the first 11 chapters, there is the constant relationship between faith and unbelief. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is so extreme it leads to eternal life in heaven. Not believing in Jesus Christ is the other extreme it leads to eternal death in hell.
Now, as we come to chapter 12, those extreme becomes crystallized in the characters here. Jesus Christ causes faith in some, unbelief in some, and indifference to some others.
Let’s break the characters out of the story a little bit. This incident is also recorded is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I’ll be weaving into some of the other gospel accounts.
John 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Jesus came to Bethany six days before the Passover. This is the last Sabbath and the next Friday Jesus is going to die and ratify the old covenant. He is six days away from the thorns and the nails. Six days away from the spear. Six days away from the sin-bearing. He seeks the warmth and the affection of dear friends.
John 12:2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
When Jesus comes to Bethany, they made Him a supper there. That’s the prolonged evening meal around an U-shaped table at which you recline.
Matthew 26 and Mark 14 tell us it happened at the house of a man named Simon, the ex-leper who also lived in Bethany. Why Simon would host the event? Because he also had had a miraculous restoration (healing of leprosy). So there are two very special people sitting at the table, one is an ex-leper and another is an ex-dead man. Then you the Lord Jesus sitting in the middle. That should make for some great conversation.
This meal was in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ, by two people who have experienced personally His creative power. Martha is serving.
The Service of Martha.
What stands out is the service of Martha. She served the Lord Jesus Christ. However, Martha gets bad press in Luke 10. The Lord came to Bethany, Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to the Word. Martha was distracted with all her preparations. She came up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” She’s a little obsessed with this serving stuff. The Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is really necessary, and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Let me tell you something. The truth that Mary is listening to is forever. The meal and the stuff in the kitchen, that has a short shelf life. So instruction, divine truth, listening to God is a priority.
1. Listening to God is a priority.
If you want to be a good disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will have to listen to God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God.
Based upon that experience, we sort of degrade Martha a little bit. Martha served then and here, service is regarded nobly in scripture.
2. True faith is accompanied by service.
Jesus said: Matthew 20:27 Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.
Luke 22:27 I am among you as one who serves.
The nobility of service is told in Luke 12:37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. When Jesus returns and establish His kingdom, He’s going to put on the waiter’s apron and serve us. That’s how elevated service is.