Summary: Mary's lovely act, Judas' lowly attack, Jesus lavish adoration. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
Smells Like Love
We're halfway through John, and the last half focuses on all the events of Passion Week, the days leading up to the cross. This is a gospel, and the good news is Jesus, and His cross!
Lazarus is at this table in v. 2. I bet he said grace at the meal, and what can you imagine him being thankful for? Being alive, maybe?!
1. The loving act of Mary.
"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."
When you love someone, you cannot help but to give to them.
For her birthday recently I got my wife a bag and a belt. I may have overestimated just how happy she would be about how well the vacuum would run from then on!
Another guy bought his girl an engagement ring, and had them inscribe on the inside, "For the only girl I could ever love." The worker asked, "Do you want her name then?" "Nah, this way if she says no I can reuse it."
Jesus was here in Bethany in chapter 11 when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Now He's back, and this time it is in connection with His own death. He is the guest of honor. If we add it up, there's at least 17 people there, including the disciples, and a leper named Simon, in whose house this is held. Many more are also gathered around.
Martha is in the kitchen, working, preparing the meal. Since these are preachers, we can assume it is fried chicken, fried ocre, lumpy mashed potatoes, and biscuits.
Mary is in the living room, worshipping at the feet of Jesus.
Lazarus is with all the boys at the table, witnessing, answering their questions about whether he saw a tunnel or a bright light.
Put all 3 together and you have a balanced Christian. Martha's work is important, as is Mary's worship. And this isn't the only time this scenario happened in Scripture. The other time is when Martha got mad that Mary wasn't helping. [Mark 14] Our text is later, and Martha is still working, but not frustrated, so she learned her lesson, because she also became a worshipper! We also see Mary serving at times. We need both work and worship. If you just sit, you soak and eventually sour. We take in spiritual energy when we sit, and we need to burn it up when we serve!
We couldn't be enjoying this service very well right now if it were not for the Martha's serving. Several Martha's are sacrificing right now and ministering to kids and babies. Somebody cleaned this place where we sit. And you couldn't hear me well now if somebody wasn't willing to leave their family seat and run the sound, and be willing to have no thanks if things go well but plenty of glares if something goes wrong! There would be no Sunday School for any age. We would never enjoy food and fellowship, outings and activities, or special music without the servants who make worship possible...and both are vitally important!
If you don't have a place of service, we'd be happy to plug you in where you would best be blessed and be a blessing.
Then there's Lazarus, who adds witnessing to work and worship.
v. 9 Don't you know this guy could draw a crowd. He was a walking witness. There must've been a lot of questions. Did it hurt? Tingle? Bright Light? Did time pass? Were you in heaven? What was it like when you woke up? Could you smell yourself?
You and I had a greater miracle happen to us, and we ought to be walking witnesses because we walk the resurrected life!
Mary is a deeply spiritual woman, constantly worshipping at the feet of Jesus.
It was a custom in those days to anoint a special guest with just a few drops of ointment or perfume on their head and feet. It was an act of courteous kindness. Hers was a precious ointment that was worth a full year’s wages. She uses not a few drops, but pours the entire contents out lavishly. This sort of oil was for anointing the dead, and she didn't pour it out on her dead brother a short while before!
Great Christians have appeared in all ages, and they have one thing in common – they live their lives with a reckless abandon when it comes to expressing their love for Jesus. They sacrifice to such a degree that they are sometimes criticized for it, as Mary was.
If you choose to live the sold out Christian life, don't be surprised if you are criticized for it. The Bible promises persecution for the serious Christian, who is faithful to more than just one service a week, who serves, and tithes, and sacrifices. And often it's the very people in your life who are supposed to encourage you who will tear you down about it. More about that next time as we see Judas' lowly attack...and Jesus' lavish adoration.