(A Series on Jesus)
C.R.6/7/87p.m. John 12:1-11
PROPOSITION:In the scene of Mary's anointing of Jesus
there is the picture of the extravagance of true worship, the humility of true worship, the selflessness of true worship and the fragrance of true worship, set in the contrast of the three other characters; Martha, Lazarus and Judas.
- WE stand at the threshold of a week of fasting and prayer.....for God to reveal His glory and break the power of sin in our fellowship, our city and our nation.
- NEXT Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of our congregational call to prayer.
- AND as we look back and look forward during this week, I would like to challenge you to examine your motives for participating in this special week.
- I TRUST, first of all, that you plan to participate in this week of fasting and prayer.......and then that you and I do it for the right reasons.
- IT needs to be an act of worship on your part.
- IT needs to be a time that you draw near to God and seek Him, first of all, for who He is and THEN for our desperate need for revival right here on Blairs Ferry Road.
- YOU see, revival starts when I draw near Him to truly worship.
- FOR eleven years Evans Roberts prayed with several other men for revival in Wales.....and, towards the end, their whole prayer was "Lord bend me!"
- AND Oswald J. Smith reported He did and they were and the revival came that changed the way the whole country lived.
- IT is not a sweeping cloud of shekinah glory that we pray will take the city by storm, somehow apart and separate from me........it is the shekinah glory resting on me and changing me that I am crying out for as I seek Him...then my world will be taken in and a city, even a nation changed for the kingdom of God.
- IF we lose that personal sense of awe at His majesty that melts our hearts as we bow down in worship....then we have lost everything.
- LET'S look at a beautiful profile of true worship in the book of John 12:1-11.
- AS we learn from this story of worship, let's apply the principles we learn to our participation in this week of fasting and prayer.
- MAY this week, for you, be what Mary's alabaster box of precious ointment was in her worship of Jesus.
- JESUS is days away from being betrayed and crucified.
- THE opposition is so intense from the Jews that He has had to withdraw Himself from Jerusalem agains to avoid being prematurely murdered.
- THEY are even plotting to murder Lazarus because his testimony is drawing many to believe in Jesus.
- SO, in our story for tonight, Jesus and His disciples retreat to Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem, to spend some time with their friends there.
- HERE, inspite of the public hostility against Jesus, the family hosts a dinner in His honor....that's the begining of true worship right there.
- SO, in this context, Mary is moved to worship Jesus in a special way.
- REMEMBER, this is the same Mary that would rather take time to sit at His feet and listen and just be with Him than perform her assigned duties as a host.
- THAT story is told in Luke 10:38.....and Jesus said to Martha, when complained about Mary's neglect of her household duties, "You are worried about and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
- THESE are the same characters who appear in this story in John 12....and it seems that their roles have not changed.
- MARY seems to sense that time is running out for direct worship.......that's what happens when you take time to sit at his feet......He reveals His thoughts to you.
- SO, in the urgency of the hour, Mary goes to her room....to that secret place where she keeps the one thing in this life that she treasures the most......a box of pure nard perfume worth about $13,000.....roughly one year's salary.
- THIS is perfume that was usually reserved for incredibly special celebrations.....such as at the celebration of a king....a treasure of a lifetime.
- EVERY woman in Judea would have envied Mary for her posession of that costly perfume.
- EVERYONE is occupied in the business of eating and talking at the table.....and hardly a soul notices as Mary slips back into the room with the precious perfume.
- SHE breaks the alabaster container and pours the perfume over His feet.....it runs over them and instantly the fragrance fills the air.
- SHE bows, almost hidden with her face to the ground, as she gently wipes His feet with her hair....and the fragrance of her act of worship comes back on her and permeates her hair where it stays for some time to come.
- MARY worships her Lord.
- SHE has sat at His feet, listened intently to His voice, now she gives her prize posession in worship of the King. She gives the most costly thing she has to Jesus in worship.
- LET me outline four principle of worship for you that I find in Mary's story....principles that you can follow when you worship Him in fasting and prayer this week.
II.THE EXTRAVAGANCE OF TRUE WORSHIP
- THE first principle that I see is the extravagance of true worship.
- MARY took the most precious thing that she owned and spent it all on Jesus.
- THERE was no calculation of the cost. That didn't matter to Mary. She just wanted to give Him what meant the most to her in worship.
- MARY gave it all, and three months later you meet her on the street in Bethany and ask her, "Mary, are there any regrets that you have now for giving that expensive perfume away so lavishly?"
"Yes", she answers, "I regret that I didn't have more to give. You see He is gone now, and I wish that I had done more."
- THAT is the extravagance of true worship.
- THERE is no cost too great to pay to express to Him how you feel about Him and how much you love Him, because He first loved you.
- HOW extravagant are you in your worship of Him?
- HOW many of your prize posessions have you left laying at His feet?
- OR does the cost stagger you and immobilize you right now? Are you afraid you will be left the poorer for true worship?
- WILL you treat this week like nard perfume....and pour it out before Him in true worship....not even calculating the cost....just because you love Him?
- PUT this week at His feet as an offering of true worship....a fragrance of your love for Him as you seek Him and love Him like Mary did.
III.THE HUMILITY OF TRUE WORSHIP
- NEXT, I would like you to see the humility of true worship.
- IF you were going to honor someone, you would anoint their head. That was the custom. It was the proper way to do the thing.
- NOW, if you were going to spend your most costly perfume, $13,000 worth, it would only seem proper to do it the way it should be done.....the old fashioned way, with tradition.
- BUT Mary's worship was filled with humility. She didn't feel worthy to anoint His head....even if it was with $13,000 perfume......she just bowed low and poured it over His feet.
- THE way they used to sit to eat in those days it is unlikely anyone even saw her do it at first because His feet would have been behind Him at the table.
- THE last thing Mary was thinking about was confering honor on Jesus with this worship....He already had the honor of the Father....she just wanted to pour herself out at His feet and the next best thing was her prize nard perfume.
- THERE is no personal honor or favor in true worship. There is ONLY the honor of the King.....so we bow at His feet, inconspicuous and wanting to keep it that way.
- JOHN the Baptist said it this way in John 3:30; "He must become greater; I must become less."
- THERE is no personal honor to be gained from fasting and seeking God this week. The honor is all His. In fact it is because of His honor that we are doing it.
- HE must become greater in our lives. We must become less.
- COME, bent low before Him in fasting and prayer. He is worthy of all honor.
IV.THE SELFLESSNESS OF TRUE WORSHIP
- THE next principle that I see in this passage is the absence of self-consciousness in true worship.
- MARY let down her hair to dry Jesus feet after she anointed them.
- THAT was a terrible thing to do.
- IT was absolutely taboo in that culture for any woman to let her hair down in a public setting.
- IT was the sign of a whore.
- DECENT women never did that sort of thing in public.
- MARY would be asking to be the talk of the town by this act.
- SHE put her self-respect on the line that day in Bethany.
- ASK her if that was even in her mind when she bowed at Jesus' feet.
- ASK her at that moment if she cared what the town would say about her......and her conduct with this itinerant rabbi....shamefully in front of a whole dinner party.
- ASK her if she cared.
- SHE'LL answer that she wasn't even aware anyone else was in the room at the time.
- THERE she was and her hair was the nearest thing at hand to wipe His feet....so she did it and who cares what the town might think.
- SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS has no place in true worship.
- SELF and worship are a contradiction of terms.
- THIS week, let's forget about ourselves and concentrate on Him and worship Him.
VI.THE FRAGRANCE OF TRUE WORSHIP
- THE last principle that I see here is the fragrance of true worship.
- WHEN true worship happens it releases a fragrance that covers you and the people around you.....as the beauty of Jesus is seen in you.
- JOHN records in verse 3 that "the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."
- THAT'S what I am praying will happen as a result of this offering of worship in fasting and prayer this week.
- WELL, before we leave this story, let's take a quick look at the other people surrounding the true worship.
- WHAT were they doing and how can we learn from them?
- FIRST there is Martha.
* She is doing what she is always doing....taking care of the guests.
* Now, there is nothing wrong with that. We need people who take care of the details.
* But it is no coincidence that that is always where you find Martha...instead of near Jesus in the action of what He is saying and doing.
* Where are you when true worship is going on? Are you with Martha, so busy in the kitchen that you have no time for true worship?
- THEN there was Lazarus. He was reclining at table. Now, like Martha, there is nothing wrong with reclining at the table, especially when it is time to eat.
* But I hope that he didn't stay there.
* Jesus was near and true worship was possible, but at this moment Lazarus was preoccupied with the meal.
* Martha was busy serving it and Lazarus was busy eating it......and there is nothing wrong with that except that they too could have joined Mary in true worship.....and, at this time, they didn't.
* I wonder if they regretted it later, after He was gone.
- THEN there was Judas. His problem was that he saw the whole scene through the filter of what was on the inside.
- HE thought it was all ridiculous......much ado about nothing.
- HE couldn't believe that that was one offering he didn't get a chance to get his hands on.
- HE was just around Jesus for what he could get out of the deal.
- THERE was no vision for true worship in Judas at all...and we all know how that ended up.
- SO from this interesting scene we learn the lesson......worship Him now....don't put it off till another day. Worship Him while he is with you.
YOU ARE WORTHY TO BE PRAISED.