AT HIS FEET (Showing His Worth)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 4/1/2012
The feet that once used the mountains as their footstool, would soon be nailed to a rough wooden cross. Today, as many of you probably know is Palm Sunday. And Palm Sunday was the day that Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem—for the last time.
The sun was beaming over the rolling desert hills, birds were singing the songs of spring, and a gentle breeze whispered through palm leaves of nearby trees. It was a beautiful day. Everything was perfect. Jesus, the Son of God, climbed confidently onto the back of a young colt which had never before been ridden—a symbol his kingship prophesied long ago by the prophet Zechariah—and gently trotted along the rocky road that led toward Jerusalem’s southern gate.
Jesus’ three-year ministry had reached its dramatic climax. Word had spread about Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead and the countless other miracles he had performed and hordes of hope-filled believers were looking to Jesus as their Messiah—their King. Passover is only a week away and the streets of Jerusalem are flooded with merchants and travelers. Excitement crackles through the air like a surge of electricity. As Jesus and his disciples round the final bend in the road, a youthful voice cries out, “It’s Him!” Then another, “It’s Him. It’s really Him!” Jesus is coming!
Like frenzied fans at a Beetles concert or a Bulls Championship, crowds of men, women, and children rushed out to greet Jesus as he entered the city. They started shouting with enthusiastic fervor, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” (John 12:13). The love and joy that radiated form Jesus’ face affirmed their praise. Then someone pulled a large leaf from a proud palm tree and laid it across Jesus’ path. Another followed suit, then another, until the road was covered in leaves—like a red carpet rolled out just for Jesus.
Not everyone was excited about his arrival though. Certain power-hungry priests saw Jesus as a threat to their prosperity and piety. They wanted him out of the way—permanently. Lines had been drawn. Sides had been chosen. But regardless of which side they stood on, everyone knew that something was about to happen—and it would be amazing!
What few of them knew is that something amazing had already happened. It happened the night before in the little village of Bethany. And, not surprisingly, it happened at Jesus’ feet.
Jesus knew that this was going to be his final week before he would be crucified, so on his was to Jerusalem, he stopped by Bethany to visit his closest friends—Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Once again, we find Mary at his feet. This time she isn’t savoring His word, or sharing her woes; rather Mary is at his feet showing his worth! The Bible says this:
Six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. (Lazarus is the man Jesus raised from the dead.) There they had a dinner for Jesus. Martha served the food, and Lazarus was one of the people eating with Jesus. Mary brought in a pint of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. She poured the perfume on Jesus' feet, and then she wiped his feet with her hair. And the sweet smell from the perfume filled the whole house. (John 12:1-3 NCV)
At this special dinner, thrown in Jesus’ honor, were several guests whose attitudes and actions have become a testimony of their relationship with Jesus. So what I’d like to do is look briefly at each of their examples, culminating with Mary at the feet of Jesus. But we’ll get to Mary in a minute. First, let’s start with Martha, whose servant-heart identifies her as a working Christian.
• A WORKING CHRISTIAN
Throughout this whole sequence of events there are only two words devoted to Martha and the role she played that evening. Just two words—but I doubt that any of us could find two words more fitting or less surprising: “Martha served” (John 12:2).
Did we really expect anything less?
The first time Martha cooked for Jesus, she was busier than a room full of Kindergarteners. She was and still is the Martha Stewart of ancient Israel. Once again, she was the Queen of kitchen. But there’s something different about her this time.
Did you notice it?
This time the Bible doesn’t say anything about her being worried or upset. She’s not hollering at her sister or criticizing her for taking a break. There are no signs of stress or frustration. Just two simple words that together sound almost serene: Martha served.
I think Martha has finally found her rhythm. She’s learned the importance of slowing down and being still, but she also knows that she and Mary are two different people. Martha’s gift is serving. This is who God made her to be and she’s discovered the joy of serving Jesus without getting worried and upset over all the details.
You know some Christians are like wheelbarrows. They only work when pushed and they get easily upset. Martha wasn’t like that though. She was worker.
The Bible, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23 NIV).
Do you know how to tell how old a worker bee is? All honeybees look pretty much the same whether they’re young, old, or middle aged. The only way to tell the difference is by their wings. A young worker bee has perfect wings; they’re rounded at the ends and thick in the middle. But as the bee gets older its wings get more and more worn out. They start to fray at the ends and they get tattered and torn. Eventually they get thinner and thinner until there’s nothing left. See, a worker bee never dies of old age. They don’t die from heart attacks or malnutrition. Unless they get swatted, they typically die in rather good health because they wear out there wings in service of the hive.
Martha was like that. She was going to wear out her wings for Jesus.
While working Christians need to be on guard not to become worried Christians, the church needs Christians like this—servant minded men and women who get things done with speed and precision, who are willing to wear out their wings for Jesus. If you’re one of those Christians, I just want to say thank you. Thank you. The rest of us might have a hard time keeping up with you, but we could all learn something from you.
Martha’s example testifies to the value being a working Christian—of having a servant heart. Judas’ example, however, identifies him as a worldly Christian.
• A WORLDLY CHRISTIAN
As Mary broke open her bottle of perfume and extravagantly poured it at Jesus’ feet, the aromatic scent wafted throughout the house, filling every room. His nostrils tantalized by the expensive aroma, Judas is drawn into the room where Jesus is and his eyes instantly widen with disdain when he sees what Mary has done.
With condescension in his voice, Judas barks, “That perfume was worth a fortune. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor” (John 12:5 TLB). John adds a little note, however, explaining: “Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself” (John 12:6 NLT). You see, Judas knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.
For three years Judas had been a part of Jesus’ inner circle. He traveled the dusty roads, following in Christ’s footsteps, witnessed amazing miracles, and heard the words of life as they fell from the lips of the Son of God himself. Those who watched at a distance probably thought Judas was the real deal. He seemed so pious, so spiritual. But the truth was—Judas wasn’t what he pretended to be. He was selfish, cynical, and duplicitous. He pretended to love Jesus, but all he really cared about was his position, possessions and power.
Jesus had a word for people like Judas—religious people whose character wasn’t consistent with their creed. Over and over throughout the gospels, He called them hypocrites. The word hypocrite actually comes from the Greek theatre. Hypocrite was the Greek word for actors who wore masks and performed on stage. What’s really sad is that according to a study conducted by LifeWay Research 72% of people surveyed believe that churches are “full of hypocrites.”
Of course, I like Zig Ziglars response to that claim. He invited a friend to church with him one day and he friend said, “I would come, but everybody knows the church is full of hypocrites.”
Zig responded, “Oh it’s okay, there’s always room for one more!”
Right or wrong, if you are a Christian, you ought to know that your neighbors and co-workers have their “hypocrisy-radar” scanning your lives 24/7. What are they looking for? False piety. A holier-than-thou attitude. Saying one thing, but doing another. What are they picking up on their radar screens? When they are scanning your life, what do they see? Because the truth is—when God-hungry souls walk into a congregation of wannabe pretenders, they know it. And few things can repel a person from God as efficiently as an insincere Christian or inauthentic church.
If you are a worldly, hypocritical Christian today is a good day to take off the mask and take a good look in the mirror. Be honest with yourself, with God and with everyone else. Trust me—you don’t want to end up like Judas.
A much, much better example to follow is the one Mary left—an example that identifies Mary as a worshipping Christian.
• A WORSHIPPING CHRISTIAN
Mary didn’t have to defend herself. Jesus did that for her. With the same fire in his eyes that he had when he turned over the tables in the Temple, Jesus responded:
“Why are you criticizing her? For she has done a good thing to me. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare me for my burial. And she will always be remembered for this deed. The story of what she has done will be told throughout the whole world, wherever the Good News is preached.” (Matthew 26:10-13 TLB).
And here we are fulfilling this prophecy. Mary had such an intimate relationship with Jesus. She sat at his feet, savoring his word. She fell at his feet, sharing her woes. And now she kneels at his feet, showing his worth. She loved Jesus so much and she had better insight than many of the men who had followed Jesus these past three years. She knew that as he rode into Jerusalem the next morning, he would be riding to his death. She knew that he was going to die. And she knew he was going to dies for her.
She wanted to express her love and show his worth in the most extravagant way she could. So she sought out her most expensive possession—an alabaster jar of perfume, worth a year’s salary—broke it open and used it to anoint Jesus’ feet, drying them with her hair. For Mary no sacrifice was too expensive. No service was too embarrassing.
Jesus was worth it.
Think about how much you make in a year and imagine pouring every penny of it out at the feet of Jesus! Even if Mary could have gathered all the wealth and all the riches of the world, put them in jar and pour out at Jesus’ feet—it would not have been a waste!
You can’t give Jesus too much!
He’s worth all that we have and all that we are!
And during those times when the Christian walk gets tough, when you feel like you’re spinning you wheels, when people get you down and disappoint you, when your effort seems to go without results, when you try and try and seem to be getting nowhere, when you feel like throwing in the towel, when you feel like dropping out of the race, when you feel like you can’t give anymore, when you feel used abused and unappreciated—just remember: Jesus is worth it!!
Jesus is with your time!! Jesus is worth your effort!!
Jesus is worth all the pain and the frustration!
Nothing we ever do for the glory and honor of Jesus is ever a waste.
You can never give too much of your life—your time, talents and treasure—to Jesus. In heaven, the angels sing: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12 NLT). Jesus is worth it and there’s no better place to be than at his feet. How much is he worth to you? What are you willing to pour out at his feet?
The Bible says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace…” (Romans 10:15 NKJV). And no feet that have ever trodden the earth are more beautiful than the feet of Jesus. Amazing things happen at his feet.
I don’t know where you are in your relationship with Jesus or what’s going on in your life, but Mary teaches us that no matter what’s going on in your life the best place to be is at his feet.
If you’re still seeking, curious about the Christian faith—then Jesus invites you to sit at his feet and savor his word. While savoring his word Mary learned that the one thing that matters is her relationship with Jesus. If you’re struggling through hard times, grief or loneliness, Jesus invites you to fall at his feet and share your woes. While sharing her woes, Mary learned that Jesus is our source of comfort in this life. If you are a Christian and you’ve accepted him as Lord and Savior, no matter what criticism you might take for it, Jesus invites you to kneel at his feet and show the world what he’s worth to you.
Just like Martha, Judas, and Mary, how you live your life will one day be a testimony to your relationship with Jesus. Wherever you are in that relationship—as our worship team comes forward—I want to invite to join Mary at the feet of Jesus and pour out your heart, your love, your worship, your life, your soul, your all.
Amazing things happen at his feet.