Summary: # 32 in series. Martha Expressed Her Worship through Service.Mary Expressed Her Worship through Giving. Lazarus Expressed His Worship through Testimony Each is valid and each is Accepted.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 32
Chapter eleven ended with Jesus going with Martha and Mary to the tomb of their brother, Lazarus and there miraculously restoring him to life. Since Lazarus had been dead for four days there was no denying that he was really dead. The resurrection made the religious establishment more than a little nervous. As we begin John chapter twelve we come to the final week of our Lord’s earthly ministry. The crucifixion is barely a week away.
As we look at this story we again see the family of Martha and Mary and Lazarus. The occasion is a celebration dinner “a thank you Jesus” dinner for Lazarus’s resurrection. Mark tells us (14:3) that it was given at the house of Simon the leper. As we join them we see three different people motivated to express their gratitude through worship in three different ways.
First, Martha Expressed Worship Through Service (12:1-2)
“Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. (2) There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.”
As I have already stated the occasion is a celebration dinner given at the house of Simon the leper. Martha we read “was serving” which is quite in character with that which we have seen of her in a previous incident in Luke 10:38-42. But this is not the same Martha that we had seen serving in the previous incident. You will remember that in that situation Martha had allowed herself to become irritated that her sister Mary was not helping her and even asked Jesus to make her help.
But on this occasion there is quite a sizeable dinner party and there is not a word about being distracted “ Martha has learned something on that sad dark day … Her service had not ceased but some secret had been learned, which kept her from distraction.” G. Campbell Morgan.
Circumstances have not changed but Martha has. John has already let see something of the faith of Martha (11:27) and is also good to see that she has learned something of the spirit in which she should serve. Martha has learned that in service attitude is everything.
Martha Expressed Worship Through Service and …
Secondly, Mary Expressed Worship Through Giving (12:3-8)
“Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
Mary’s worship took a different form. Perhaps the meal is over and the guests are sitting around the table talking and then something happens that will be talked about for centuries. It is a simple gesture of a grateful heart. It was not meant to be showy thing in fact I believe that Mary was quite unaware of anyone but Jesus. With a heart overflowing with gratitude for what Jesus had done for her and her family she has gone to a special place of safe-keeping and had removed a vial of special ointment and brought to Jesus. There she had knelt at the feet of Jesus and quietly anointed the feet of Jesus with this most precious of oils.
I want you to note three things with me about this act of worship.
•Mary’s Worship Was Spontaneous.
Her worship was spontaneous. She was not concerned at all about what people thought. She was not worried about how much the perfume cost. She cared nothing for the customs of the day, she entered into a supper where women were not usually welcome, she let down her hair in public, an unthinkable act in that culture, and she openly expressed her love for Jesus. At that moment she was completely caught up in worshipping the Lord. I wonder, just once, what it would be like to be that caught up, in worshiping God?
•Mary’s Worship Was Sacrificial.
Somehow I believe that Mary knew of King David’s statement in 2 Sam 24:24, when he said, “I will not offer to God that which cost me nothing!” I wonder what an understanding of that truth would bring to our worship? What we see demonstrated in our text is love’s extravagance. Is really this extravagance? Yes, since Judas tells us that it’s worth 300 denarii. It is hard to fix an exact dollar amount because the figure is constantly changing, but a denarii was the average daily wage for a man so it was about a about a year’s salary. So imagine putting whatever you make in a year in a bottle then break it, pour it out.