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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode 105 · 4 months ago

Perspiration, Perfume & Poison

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Perspiration, Perfume & Poison

John 11:55-12:11

Dax Bryant - Preaching

We all, if you've lived long enough, and you don't have to live very long, we all experience those turning point moments in our lives, those those kind of decisive moments Um that really mark out your lives. Maybe it is when you started college or you started your career. Um could be the day that you met your future spouse or the days that your children were born. It could be, hopefully, if you're a Christian, the moment that you realize that God had saved you. or Or, on the other hand, it could be things like when your parents got divorced or when you lost the job or had to pay the consequences for some poor decisions or someone that you loved dearly died, whether positive or negative, these these moments happen in our lives where we can look at them and then, in hindsight, see that there is a distinct before and after. And this morning we come to a pivotal moment in John's Gospel that is very much like that. Really, chapters at eleven and twelve are the turning point of John's Gospel. The first ten chapters or so that we've seen have covered events spanning the three years of Jesus Public Ministry now, and all of that was done in in anticipation of this, this hour that was coming. This hour we've had hints of where something big was going to happen, some moment was going to arrive where Jesus was going to more fully display his his glory. And when we come to Chapter Eleven and chapter twelve, these chapters are that turning point now from his earthly ministry to this final week of Jesus's life, to this pivotal moment. What what happens in these chapters is the decisive turning point in Jesus's life and ministry that Lee leads to the final events of his life on earth. Now, we saw this begin last week in Chapter Eleven, where John recounted the raising of Lazarus from the dead and showed us how that triggered the religious leaders too to make serious plans to put Jesus to death. And and it was a genuine enough threat that Jesus once again retreats to a little town on the edge of the wilderness to sort of lay load, to get out of the spotlight. And as we come to this particular section that kind of bridges the end of chapter eleven and the beginning of chapter twelve, we'll discover this passage here is uniquely situated in John's Gospel because it touches both what has gone before and what is still yet to come. And the big idea in this passage that I want us to walk away with this morning is this that your worship of Jesus Coruss with his worth to you. Your worship of Jesus corresponds with his worth to you, either in selfless devotion to him or in selfish disgrace before him. Before we get there, let's let's pick up the narrative itself here, starting in Chapter Eleven, verse through Fifty Seven, and it opens with a scene of what I will call public pressure. Verse Fifty Five. Now the past over of the Jews was at hand. So this is the third Passover mentioned by John. It's the final Feast mentioned in this Gospel, and so in that way even this serves as sort of a bridge and transition out of that festival cycle from chapters five through ten into this final week of Jesus's life. And and I trust that most, if not all, of you understand the significance of the Passover. We've explained it a couple of times...

...already, as we've gone through earlier portions of John's Gospel, so I won't go into great detail about that again. Just simply put, the Passover was a divinely commanded annual celebration of the defining event in the history of Israel, which ultimately culminated in their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. And then it says this Passover was at hand and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. Just like they did every year, the pilgrims start making their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As as you know, maybe I've said before, you've probably heard, you always go up to Jerusalem from wherever you're coming from, not just because of the elevation change, but because of the prominence of the city culturally religiously. But more to the point here, these pilgrims are arriving in Jerusalem early enough to complete any required ceremonial cleansing that they might need to go through in order to participate in the feast. So this explains why, even almost a week ahead of time, people are gathering in Jerusalem, with the Passover still aways off. So they're they're they're doing their ritual purification and they have a little bit of extra time on their hands. Notice Verse Fifty Six. So they were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, what do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all. So as these pilgrims have come into Jerusalem and as they're they're talking to each other, the events of recent days have tickled their ears. The word on the street is that this man, Jesus, had raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, something that does not happen every day. And so so that rumor adds to the buzz in the air already, with the Passover at hand. But but the people are uncertain if they'll even see Jesus at the feast at all. Why? Well, because of another piece of news that had also been making the rounds verse fifty seven. Now, the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, Jesus that is, he should let them know so that they might arrest him. So, under Roman occupation, tensions during the Passover season we're already high anyway. But but this was even elevated from that. The San Hedrin were on high alert. They had already made plans and to kill Jesus. They were convinced that if they let him continue on his course that they were going to lose everything, and so they had enacted this plan to seek to arrest him in order that they could put him to death. And so you can imagine that the pressure that the holy city of Jerusalem kind of on the eve of Passover is like this pressure your cooker, right, that's that's ready to explode, and it's at this very point, in fact, I would argue it's because of this very point, that Jesus now re enters the scene. Notice Chapter Twelve, verse one. Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, and actually, in the original language, the word therefore is emphasized at the front end of the sentence that more literally reads, therefore, Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany. meaning. What meaning? Because of the intention of the San Hedrin to kill him, because the crowds are looking for him, because Jerusalem is like a pressure cooker ready to explode, because of those things, he returns to the area. His presence, even...

...though it's not yet been publicly announced, is is adding to the pressure that's building in this narrative here. Up until this point, the leaders, they've not been able to kill him simply because his hour had not yet come. Now, at this point, his hour is closer than it's ever been. In fact, we'll see him say for the first time the hour has come next week, Lord Willing, when we get to verse twenty three. But for now, here he is. Six days before the Passover, six days before the mocking and the spitting and the beating, six days before the thorns and the nails and the spear, six days before the experience of Hell itself and and no owing everything that awaits him six days from now. Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was whom Jesus had raised from the dead. The village of Bethany if you recall from last week, lies just over the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem, only about two miles away. John reminds us here that that that is the home of Lazarus, whose resurrection from the dead he recounted for us in chapter eleven. And it was the latest and ultimate catalyst for these plans to put Jesus to death. And so this this public pressure, with Jesus returning to the scene, all of it kind of sets up the second scene. Now we moved from public pressure to a private party. Verse Two. So they gave a dinner for him there. This dinner was held on evening of the Sabbath, and we know this because down in verse twelve we're told that the next day is when Jesus entered Jerusalem, on what we know is Palm Sunday, and I imagine this the Sabbath meal was an especially festive occasion, given this reunion of old friends who loved each other. Uh, this this celebration of what Jesus had done in giving Lazarus his life back and beyond that. In Matthew and Mark's Gospel they record that this dinner was hosted in the home of a man by the name of Simon the Leper, which seems strange right, because we know that a leper wouldn't be hosting a dinner party, especially with passed over approaching and all the concerns about ritual purity and cleanliness. And not to get off track here, but I think it's safe to assume there's an untold story right here, right because this man, Simon, the Leper, who is most certainly no longer a leper. Something happened to him to change that. I think we can read between the lines and and say that it's very likely he had his own miraculous encounter with Jesus and now he's hosting this private party to honor Jesus. It's a dinner party, still in verse two. Martha served and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Now I've gotten to know many of you over the months I've been here. Some of you love to be around people, uh some of you not so much. I'm I'm one of those people that, in a group of of others, sometimes I struggle to to make Chit Chat, to make small talk, and I always end up feeling a little bit awkward. I don't know if you've been in that situation where people are gathered around and the conversation just grinds to a halt because you don't know what to say next. That would not be the case at this dinner party.

You have at the table an ex leper and ex corpse and the Lord Jesus Christ himself. If you don't have things to say here, you've got bigger problems. Now, as as we move through this section, I want you to notice the actions of three people at this party. We're gonna see three prototypical practices here. Three, three actions that illustrate typical responses to Jesus, to our positive one is negative, and I'm gonna give you, give you three words to keep track of these. Those words are perspiration, perfume and poison, and hopefully that will become clear as we go through this. So as we as we examine these practices. Uh, here's what I want you to see again, that the worship of Jesus's followers corresponds with Jesus is worth to them, either in selfless devotion or in selfish disgrace. So notice here the first prototypical practice, in verse two. Martha served, and that is exactly what you would expect from Martha, right, if you've read of her earlier. Martha is hardwired to serve. She is a doer, and you know what, without doers around, not a lot gets done. Thank God for doers. In fact, the word served here is the word Dieck and I where we get the Word Deacon from Martha serves here not out of a sense of obligation, not because she drew the short straw, not because she's left holding the bag, but she serves here because she loves Jesus. She loves the people that she's serving, including her brother Lazarus, who I'm sure she's had to have back at the table. In Martha we get a picture of service, and Christian service is a display of selfless devotion that corresponds to Jesus's worth, and in that sense, service itself is an act of worship. There's a reason why we call what we're doing, even right now, a worship service. Have you thought about this? It's not a worship experience designed for you, the audience, it is a worship service. This gathering ought to be where we come together to offer all of our lives to God in service, as an act of worship for the benefit of others in this body. Now, of course, every aspect of your Christian life should be permeated with this idea of service, inside your family, at your workplace, in your neighborhood, at your school, wherever you go. But but I'm speaking particularly of when, just like Jesus's followers are gathered here at this dinner to honor him. When the church gathers to honor and worship Jesus, when we regularly come together to stir up one another to love and good works, that idea of service. So so how do you do that? What does that look like? Because if you are a Christian, part of your Christian obligation is to serve others and to be served by others. I'll give you a simple three step process to this if you want to know how to do this. Number One, show up. You have to be present in order to use your gifts to serve others and to know what other people are going through. That's a non negotiable. You need to be here regularly when the church gathers. Number two, you need to take the initiative to identify your gifts and you use your gifts in serving others. You don't have to...

...take a spiritual gifts survey online to find that out. The best way is to jump in and start doing something and you'll learn pretty good either on your own or from the feedback of others, if that's a good fit or not. So take the initiative, use your gifts to serve others. And then number three, the hardest part, I think for many people, is you then need to let other people into your life enough so that they can know how to use their gifts to serve you. If you keep yourself walled off, the other people around you don't know what your needs are, don't know how they can help. So if you want to be like Martha, if you want to worship Jesus like Martha does here in service, you have to be present, you have to take the initiative and you have to communicate. And then it's all in your attitude. I think right. Because thinking back to Martha in in Luke Chapter Ten, when she had served and she was complaining about her sister Mary Not Helping her, the Lord gently rebuked her, remember that. But now, at this dinner she's back in the kitchen, happily serving, it seems, without complaint. And so what changed? Martha changed, or we might say the Lord Changed Martha. She she understood from Jesus that that her gift of service itself. That didn't make her less spiritual than Mary. That's not what the rebuke was. Rather, it was her attitude that was hindering her worship, but now her perspiration in service, in working, is an act of worship. It is an act of selfless devotion that corresponds with Jesus's worth to her, and it's it's prototypical for us in the sense that for the believer, all of life, every aspect of life, is to be oriented to ward the worship of God in all that you do. So if you can picture the scene here again, that there's this special dinner, it's being held to honor Jesus, to thank him for what he's done in the life of Lazarus, Lazarus, the former corpse himself is there, Simon, the ex leper is there, the disciples are there, Martha is in her usual place, taking care of the meal and cheerfully serving her loved ones as they talk and laugh and share stories. And then verse three. Mary therefore, and that word therefore again connects this to the previous sentence. So, because this was a dinner in honor of Jesus, Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nerd and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. I imagine not everyone noticed or realized what was happening. At first they're just carrying on as usual around this table and then suddenly this this sweet and Muskie smells just overpowers them and they noticed Mary there. So she's she's pouring out this entire jar of perfume on Jesus and she's and she's starting to take her hair down. It seems a little strange for us. It seemed a little strange to them too, but this is the second prototypical practice that we see in this passage. So what's what's going on here? First of all, I want you to notice that this is a lot of perfume. Right. The text says it was a pound. The measurement itself refers to something about twelve ounces in weight, so like a can of soup. So it's a it's a great quantity of perfume. So not only is the quantity great, but the quality of the...

...fume is second to none. Notice it's pure, and this ointment is rather rare, as it is extracted from the root and spike of the Nord Plant, which is native to the region of the Himalayas. So when you add up the quantity and the quality and the origin, you can understand why John Describes this as expensive. Ointment I went to look and it is true. You can buy nerd today as an essential oil if if that's your thing. It's not my thing. One one website I saw lists Nord at sixty dollars for a five millilater bottle, which, if my math is right, that works out to be almost five thousand dollars for twelve ounces. So this is extremely valuable. You don't pick this up at Walmart and in verse five. Judas estimates the value to be about three hundred Denari, which at the time was about a year's worth of wages. So take your annual salary. That's what this little jar perfume cost. This was no doubt a prized possession, and so very likely when Mary gives this, and she gives all of it, she gives the very best thing she has, she gives the most valuable thing that she owns. And of course we have to pause there to apply this to ourselves. What would you give, or maybe the better way to ask it is what would you not give for the sake of Jesus? Have you ever given the best thing that you have, the most valuable thing that you have, for Jesus? What is your most valued session is it? Is that the number in your bank account? Is it your position at work? Is it a special relationship that you enjoy? H Is it something as simple as a car or or a house or a collectible whatever? Whatever it is, the question is, would you give it? Is it on the table, so to speak, to be given to Jesus? Because I think, speaking for myself and applying that to you, far too often we are happy to give Jesus the scraps from the table, the leftovers, the things that we don't really need or won't really miss. But look at Mary's gift here. First of all, it's it's sacrificial right. This giving this gift cost her something. Again, she gives him all of the most valuable thing that she has, but but more than that, she gives him herself. This is not just a sacrificial gift. This, this gift requires and is accompanied by an act of humility, and it's important for us to see that too, that this is not just about the monetary value of the gift, because for some of you, writing a check is about the least costly thing you could do right. Dropping a check in the offering box can be a lot easier than it is to give yourself to Jesus. But look at the humility of Mary's gift. Here. She anointed the feet of Jesus, and it's a little bit puzzling at first because again in Matthew and in Mark We're told that she anointed Jesus's head, and the point that those writers are making is that Jesus is the king, and so anointing his head is emphasized because that demonstrates his kingship. But here John has something else in mind. Mary didn't just a point his head, but also his feet. So what's John...

Getting at? Well, it's a little bit of foreshadowing. But at a formal meal like this, a dinner like this, foot washing was a normal part of the deal. After all, people walked through dirt and filth in sandals or bare feet to get where they were going. So you can imagine it might be rather unpleasant to be around that when people are reclining at table for an extended period of time eating food. But foot washing, as you know, is a is a job that is reserved for servants. Mary is a woman of some wealth and status, and so what she does here is is really unthinkable. She touches Jesus's dirty feet. It's an act of humility. And of course we know what's coming in chapter thirteen in the upper room, where the disciples have to be taught to wash one another's feet by Jesus himself, whereas here Mary already has this figured out. And of course Mary's humility in her act of worship begs the question for us also. Are Are you willing to humble yourself before your savior, to put yourself in a place of submission to him? Two perhaps even do the dirty work that no one else wants to do in order to honor the Lord? So Mary's gift. It's sacrificial, it's humble, but it's also very intimate. After she annoints his feet with this perfume, the text says she wiped his feet with her hair. Now this is an extraordinary scene. Mary doesn't care about the cost of the perfume. Mary also doesn't care what others are going to think about her and her devotion to Jesus. Taking her hair down in the presence of men in this culture broke all kinds of social and norms and cultural expectations. This, this was not the sort of thing you did in mixed company. Now there's nothing immoral, nothing sexual about her actions. We know that because Jesus does not rebuke her or attempt to stop her from doing this in any way. And so what we have here with Mary's actions is a an extravagant, passionate, intimate expression of worship that corresponds with Jesus's worth to her and her selfless devotion to Jesus here, in this moment is something that is beautiful to behold. She is concerned only with expressing her love to the one who raised her brother from the dead. Again, we must ask, do you have that kind of intimate relationship with Jesus, that kind of singular focus? Have you been so overcome with love for Jesus that you would do anything to worship him in a manner which he approves of, no matter the cost, no matter how ridiculous it appears to others, no matter how over the top it seems? Do you? Do you not only have that, that passion, that great love for Jesus, but are you willing to act on it, or are you more worried, perhaps, about what others might think of you if you did? More worried about a fitting in Mary here had eyes only for her savior. So we have to ask ourselves, can the same be said of us? Can the same be said of our love for Jesus that Mary so clearly displays? And then John adds at the end of verse three, the House was filled with the fragrant of the perfume. Mary didn't...

...use just a little of the perfume, mark tells us. She broke open the alabaster jar that the that the perfume was in and poured it out. And who knows how long that smell lingered in the house, lingered in Mary's hair, lingered on the body of Jesus. This was not something that she did in order to be noticed, but her act of selfless devotion was something that that couldn't be ignored, nor would it be forgotten. This is a display of worship that corresponds with Jesus's worth to her and it and it prototypically reveals the nature of true worship. The smell of that perfume would always remind everyone in that room of the sacrificial, humble, intimate devotion of a disciple for her master. Everyone except for one person, that is verse four. But Judas is scary it one of his disciples, and then John adds. In hindsight, he who was about to betray him, said, why was this ointment not sold for three hundred Denari and given to the Poor Judas did not see an act of love and devotion and worship. He only saw an extravagant waste. The smell of that perfume made him sick. And this is where we continue to see that the worship of Jesus's followers corresponds with Jesus's worth to them, either in selfless devotion to him, as we've seen with Martha's perspiration Mary's perfume, or in selfish disgrace before him, as we are about to see with Judas. Have you ever known anyone who has the ability, the gift, you might even say, of being able to ruin a totally nice moment? Can just stumble into a room and immediately bum everybody out there are people like this. This is a terrible interruption, a terrible intrusion into this remarkable moment of worship. But but don't be too hard on Judas here, because Matthew and mark tell us that the other disciples, they were thinking the same thing. It's Judas. That is the one who opens his mouth, and at first this sounds like a very, very noble, very sensitive objection, doesn't it? This is a waste, this could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor. I mean, who can argue with that? But John allows us to kind of peek behind the curtain here and get a glimpse of the true motives of Judas. Verse six, he said this. Judas said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief and, having charge of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. Martha's perspiration marries perfume. Those things prove the selfless devotion of those two generous, humble worshippers. But but here with Judas, this third prototypical practice, is different. The poisonous words of Judas is scariot prove only that he is a selfish, greedy, prideful thief, and that turns this whole scene toxic. Judas, we learned, had been dipping into the money bag for some time now...

...and though that practice likely afforded him some extras on the side, as is often the case, it was never enough. This was a golden opportunity. Three hundred denari would be a Nice Little Nest Egg for Judas. Of course, ultimately he will settle for thirty pieces of silver instead of three hundred Denari. But but think about this. Judas was one of the twelve. He sat under the teaching of Jesus for three years. He witnessed great miracles. He likely even performed some of those miracles himself. He preached the good news of the Kingdom of God. He was so trusted that he was the treasurer of the group, but he left his heart unguarded and he betrayed Jesus, revealing low worth that Jesus had to him. And the example of Judas here must be something that serves as a warning for all of us who claim the name of Christ, because this proves that it is possible to be a professing believer, a member of a church, even a pastor or an elder, and still be unconverted, to speak highly of Jesus but to assign him a low worth. So we all must examine ourselves in the faith. The contrast here couldn't be greater. Martha and Mary, their hearts were overflowing with joy and love. That that manifested itself in these selfless, worshipful acts of service and devotion. Judas's heart, on the other hand, shriveled away in greed and pride and selfishness. And so we see that the worship of Jesus's followers corresponds with Jesus's worth to them, either in selfless devotion to him or in selfish disgrace before him. We move out of those prototypical practices here and Jesus Responds to Judas with a proper perspective, now, a proper perspective on what's just transpired. Versus Seven and eight. Jesus said, leave her alone so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me do do those statements strike you as odd? Does that sound like the kind of thing you would expect Jesus to say? It seems different to me. And notice Jesus doesn't just say, Judas, shut your trap and leave her alone. He specifies. He goes on to offer three reasons why Judas should leave her alone. Firstly, he says, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. Now, middaly. This this versus a little bit difficult to interpret. She may keep it. Keep what the perfume Nard was sometimes used at burials to help mask the smell of death, and this does foreshadow Jesus is pending death and burial, though Mary doesn't know that at this point. But then again she'd already poured out all the perfume anyway. So keep the perfume doesn't seem likely, I think. After searching around and reading other people's opinions, this is where I've landed. I think there's room for disagreement here, that that Jesus probably means something more like let Mary keep this...

...sense of worship and devotion and and love for me that she's displaying as the one who is the resurrection and the life. Don't, don't take that away from her, Judas, by ruining this moment. She's seen her brother Lazarus die and be raised from the dead, and she's going to need every bit of that same hope and reliance on me and my power in six days when she stands outside my grave. I think that's more likely what Jesus means when he says let her keep it, let her keep this sense of wonder and devotion and trust in me. The second thing he says in Verse Eight, for the poor you always have with you. Now, even if, even if Judas really did care about the poor, which John says he did not, he has the rest of his life to serve them. Nothing Mary has done has changed Judas's ability to care for the poor. The point Jesus is making is that this historical moment in redemptive history is not the moment to worry about the poor. The poor can be served long after Jesus is gone. So leave her alone, Judas. And then, thirdly, Jesus says, but you do not always have me. He says this knowing, of course, that his time on earth is drawing to a close sooner than anyone at that dinner party even realizes. But in this moment, Mary, she has felt the preciousness of Jesus's presence, she's she's seen something of Jesus's glory and His grace and she's tried to express something that that matches his worth to her in her heart. And Jesus affirms that Mary's heart is right in this. So leave her alone. Friends, we also have to make sure that we are not listening to the Voice of Judas. His his words are poison. They are of the enemy. So when people ask you, I've had family members observe why, why do you take that Jesus thing so seriously? Why is that such a big part of your life? Don't don't listen to that. Let your affections for Jesus be lavish. When people say, why are you wasting your money giving it to the church? No, Jesus is greater than all of your riches and nothing can compare to his infinite worth. When people say you really believe that this man rose from the dead and that somehow you are going to one day, also, yes, I believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and that whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die. Jesus says, leave her alone, Judas, and in Mark's Gospel it's right after this rebuke that Judas then leaves to seek out the religious leaders and negotiate the terms of his betrayal. But these are three prototypical practices. Here's perspiration, perfume and poison in the form of Judas's words. That helped illustrate this truth, that your worship of Jesus corresponds with his worth to you, in selfless devotion to him or in selfish disgrace before him. And that brings us here to the final section of this passage, where we see both a powerful proof and a pernicious plot. Verse Nine, when the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came not only on...

...account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the word about this private party had gotten out and probably after the sun had set on this Sabbath evening, many people made the walk from Jerusalem to Bethany to see both Jesus and Lazarus. No doubt this included some of the pilgrims who were in town for the Passover. Verse Ten, so the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because, on account of him, many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. I find that fascinating that that, even though not a single word is recorded in scripture from Lazarus, Lazarus had become Jesus's star witness here, towards the end of his life, many of the Jews it says, we're going away and believing in Jesus. Why? Because of the very fact that Lazarus was alive. His his life, was a powerful proof of WHO Jesus was. Not because of anything that Lazarus had done, of course, but because of what Jesus had done for him. And that's true of you also. If you're a believer, you of yourself have nothing to offer Jesus, nothing of your own accord to bring to him. Just like Lazarus was dead, you were dead in your sin until Jesus called you forth and granted you life. And now your life has been so changed, your life ought to look so different that it can only be explained by the power of Jesus. That makes you a star witness for Jesus. If you have a new life, if you're walking with Christ, you are a powerful proof of the reality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now you have to add the words of the Gospel to the life that you lead, but your transformed life is a powerful proof of who Jesus is. But this passage closes with a contrast. Here you have this powerful proof, manifested in the living testimony of Lazarus. That results in many people believing in Jesus. And then there's also this pernicious plot, as the religious leaders are seeing, scheming once again, not only to kill Jesus this time, but also to kill Lazarus. And so, for the Umpteenth Time In this Gospel, John Raises The question once again. He presents these things to ask you. Which side are you going to choose? Your worship of Jesus corresponds with his worth to you, either in self US devotion to him or in selfish disgrace before him. So are you going to side with Judas? Are you going to side with the chief priests, caught up in the poison of greed and pride and envy and selfishness and materialism, rejecting Jesus? Because if you don't love Jesus and worship him for who he is rather than what you might be able to get, that is the road you're headed down, and it's not only selfishly disgraceful, it is dangerous, it is deadly. That's one side. The other side is will you choose to be among that group of people who are putting their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, worshiping him in selfless devotion? Will you be like Martha, serving Jesus and others with all your heart? Will you be like Mary, pouring out the most valuable things in your life to him? Will you...

...be like Lazarus, a living testimony leading others to the Savior? If so, then, whether for the first time or once again, bow at Jesus's feet, lay down your sin, give him everything, trust in his atoning death for you and in his resurrection from the dead. Selflessly give him your love and affection and devotion and worship, and then rise and serve your king. May He make the sweet fragrance of your salvation a testimony to him and a blessing to others. Let's pray. Lord, we know all too well that we have sinned against you countless times and in countless ways. Never once have we been fully devoted to you, never once have we loved you with all of our heart and all of our soul and all of our mind and all of our strength. And yet you have been gracious to us, you have shown US mercy and forgiveness, and yet have still remained holy and just. And this has been accomplished by the finished work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is to him and his righteousness that we appeal for our redemption. We desire to give ourselves over to his service and place ourselves under his command. We desire to worship Jesus in a way that corresponds with his worthiness, and we pray that our words and our deeds and our thoughts will reflect all of these things. Help us to be what we profess, help us to live, and not just here. Make US beautiful in your sight. For the sake of your son and the glory of your name. We Pray Amenh.

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