Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
Then Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume: she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:1-3 (NIV)
Here we have Jesus’ friends, serving a dinner in His honour. They were the ones who had experienced and witnessed the resurrection power of Jesus, when He raised Lazarus from the dead.
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
I can feel the joy and gratitude in their hearts as they once again share a meal with Jesus. I feel that same joy in my heart, that same gratefulness for all he has done for me. My Saviour. My friend. This is my Jesus – the One who is close, relaxed, joyful, attentive, personal.
At this dinner we see Lazarus and his sisters pour out their love on Jesus. Firstly, Martha is serving. Pouring her love on Jesus through her love language of hospitality.
I am reminded of an earlier interaction with Jesus, where in her desire to serve, Martha complained and found fault with her sister. At that time, Jesus reminded her,
You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.
I’m hoping she learned from that and is now serving with a grateful and cheerful heart. Or is there another possibility? After all, in John 12:2 it merely says, Martha served. No commentary at all. Was there nothing more to say of her serving? Was this love poured out, or was she just fulfilling cultural norms?
You know – those expectations we place on ourselves because ‘that’s just the way it’s done’. Or was this an expression of her deep love for Jesus, now she, too, had learned to ‘sit at his feet’, as her sister already had? Was busyness still a struggle for Martha or had her lesson with Jesus taught her to serve with a heart of love and fellowship instead of anger or angst or other’s expectations?
Sometimes I find it hard to know why I am doing what I do. I am a people pleaser. I don’t like being in trouble. I like things to be nice. I love to bless, but I don’t always have the energy to do them all ‘in love’. Sometimes they just feel like chores.
Perhaps, we need to see what the ‘many things’ are that we are worried about and remember there is just ‘one thing that is needed’. Is it time to remove some of those things (stuff, activities, the wrong people in your life, wrong attitudes or focus…) or just a time to re-evaluate and put in perspective? Whatever our roles in life, we have a choice in attitude toward them and the people they effect.
None of us have ‘arrived’ and we all carry a mixture of motives and attitudes. Hopefully, Mary had adjusted hers. I hope to adjust mine, also.
Next, we read of Lazarus, reclining at the table with Jesus – such a lovely picture of fellowship, friendship and intimacy. I can’t imagine a person with more gratefulness than one who has been raised from death – to be given a second chance, more time with loved ones, and now the privilege of sharing this Life with those around him.
And yet, this is our story. We have been saved from death, raised to life. We, too, can have grateful hearts. The gift of eternal life is for us all. Our lives, in the hands of the Saviour can be safe, redeemed, rescued from death.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Now it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Lazarus. He also became a target along with Jesus because of his experience and devotion. (John 12:10).
We too, are targets for the enemy. Which is why we must stay close to Jesus, resting in Him, fellowshipping with Him. He is our strength, our sustenance, our protection, our friend. We can trust Him.
Finally, we see Mary, taking perfume to pour out on Jesus’ feet. She took the place of a servant to anoint her Saviour. To declare her love. To anticipate His death. Instead of waiting for a funeral to express her love, she now poured out that which was prepared for His burial (verse 7). This was costly. A year’s wages saved to buy this oil.
Not everyone understood. Not everyone agreed.
Some will misinterpret our love poured out on Jesus. But He won’t. Some will be angry or envious, greedy or critical. They will twist our gifts into something selfish. They will demand that we should have used our resources, love, or giftings in a different way. Man’s judgement can be cruel.
No matter what ‘they’ say, let us pour our love out on Jesus today and every day, serve Him with all our hearts and sit at His feet, fellowshipping with Him. Let’s take the time. Let’s save and spend our resources in the honour and love and worship of our great Saviour, Redeemer and Lord.
“Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.”
I’ve been contemplating how we see ourselves, how we see God. Why we walk the path we’re on. Do we get our perceptions from our experiences, our upbringing, our own self-talk? Do we interpret God through the eyes of pain, anger or doubt, or wonder and creation, the birth of a baby? It’s important to know why we think what we think, in case it’s wrong!
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.“
I don’t personally know many people who really don’t believe that God exists, and yet not all are following Him. Some complain about Him, or ask curly questions. Some have been hurt and so doubt His love for them. Others feel God is too distant to need to be in relationship with Him. Some feel you shouldn’t be too serious about religion, while others have just forgotten, or never knew, that they truly need Him, and He truly wants us!
Jesus speaks to us in the parable of the Sower about the ways we hear and respond to His Word. It gives us some clues, too, to know how we can help others receive the Good News! I’ll start with the path. I’ll look at the other places in later posts.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.”
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”
Whenever you speak, live, or express God’s love and His word to others, it is planted in their heart (even the path-seed which is then taken ‘from their hearts’ by the devil). This is encouraging to me. Whatever I do to tell people about Jesus is a seed that gets planted in their hearts. We know that when seed is sown into good soil, and is tended with sun and water, plants grow and produce fruit, vegetables, flowers, crops. So, how do we turn path-seed into productive seed?
Paths are walked on, over and over, making the soil hard under foot, creating a way forward that is easily followed by many. Hearts that have been trodden on, hurt or broken become hard. Hearts that choose rebellion and stubbornness toward God become hard. Some hearts are just walking the path they’ve always known, not thinking if it’s the best way. Some hearts don’t like change, fear the unknown. Sometimes I have a hard heart.
God gives us choice. He is a kind, loving God that doesn’t force our hand.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life…”
We can’t make people choose Jesus, but we can help them with their decisions. We can pray that their broken heart is healed by the God of love. We can show them a better path by living our best life, in being kind and forgiving, loving our enemies, not judging, being generous, lending without expectation, trusting God to take care of our every need. (See Luke 6:27-42) We can encourage the down-hearted, supporting them with our love and care. We can pray protection over them and over the word planted in their hearts so that the devil can’t steal it. We can pray that people find a new path to walk, free of the routines and habits and brokenness that lead away from life. We are called to be like Christ –
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
How we think about ourselves, and how we think about God makes all the difference in the path we choose to walk, and in the fruit we produce. Let’s make God’s Word our first priority, choosing His Truth as our source of hope, strength, direction and life.
“When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13
“You visit the earth and give it rain…You saturate its furrows, and soak its plowed ground. With rain showers you soften its soil, and make its crops grow.”
Blessings, Jenni xx
Pray for the people God brings to mind, that He would soften their hearts to hear the Gospel and they would receive it.
Perform a random act of kindness – or not too random! Who can you bless today?
Choose to make the Word of God a priority in your life. Read and enjoy what God speaks to your heart.