Art’s Sermons–April

Second Presbyterian
Johnstown
Art Moffat

Do you Love your Life More Than You Love God?

John 12:1-9

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.  Then Mary took about 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.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,  “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

Without Jesus’ teaching, the cross, His resurrection, we would be lost—all of us.  We would become the mold of death.

In this story we are looking for the Holy Spirit to unfold for us.  Jesus is rounding the turn and heading toward the heart of Jerusalem. So, His death was near.  OUR eternal birth is getting close.  On this day — evening of that day, a special dinner was given for Jesus a the home of Lazarus , Mary and Martha. It  looks like a nice, peaceful evening.

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. Johns 12:9-11

The cross was about a week away.

My people have committed two sins:

They have forsaken me,

    the spring of living water,

and have dug their own cisterns,

    broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2: 13

At Mary’s and Martha’s and Lazarus’ house, God was the center of the universe.  Yet they didn’t know what was coming. If you knew that you were going to be brutally killed in a week, where would you be?

Every scripture in the Bible about God’s Chosen People, the nation of Israel, the Jews,  moves toward the cross.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.  John 12:1-2

While the supper was being served, Mary went over to Jesus, took His feet, held them close to her.  She was probably remembering Isaiah 52:1

“How beautiful on the mountains

    are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

    who bring good tidings,

    who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

    “Your God reigns!”

“Then Mary took about 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 12:3

Mary holds the Messiah’s very feet, the beautiful feet of the One who brought The Good News. The One who changed her life, brought her brother Lazarus from death to life.  She is so grateful.  Of all the people around the life of Jesus, this one, Mary, really gets it.  She has pure devotion for Jesus.  Martha attended to Jesus too.  She was of a more practical nature.  And Lazarus was Jesus’ good friend, yet Mary, is the one constantly raised up in scriptures as having the right priorities.

Mary takes Nard and anoints Jesus’ feet.  Nard was a highly expensive ointment.  One pint of Nard cost about a year’s wages.  It has a very strong fragrance.

“And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”. John 12:3

This fragrance suggests extravagance and love and that Mary gave her all to Jesus.  Mary was glorifying Jesus. At Lazarus’ tomb, Mary called Jesus, “Lord”.  She knew that Jesus was The Christ.

And Mary, then takes down her hair, and rubs the ointment into Jesus’ feet.  She adores Him  She worships Him. 

“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,  ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’John 12: 4-8

Judas, watched Mary pour out the whole bottle of the Spikenard over Jesus and onto Jesus’ feet, then rubbing his feet with her hair.  Judas could not contain himself over this act. He could not be quiet.  Why?

Some people give and give and give. That was Mary.  Some people take, and take and take.  That was Judas.  These opposites cannot fathom one another.

And Judas was duplicitous. He says one thing and means another.  “Why was this not given to the poor?”

Ecclesiastes says, “There is time to speak and a time to keep silent.”  Wise people know the difference.  Judas did not. Jesus knew, and Judas knew that Judas really didn’t care about the poor.  Judas cared about his own voice and his own agenda, and money.

John, who wrote this Gospel, probably looked back on this incident with shocking hindsight.  By the time John wrote this Gospel, through the Holy Spirit, he knew all about what Judas would do to Jesus—betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Clearly, Judas sought money more than Jesus, and acceptance of the powers that be, more than Jesus’ up-side down understanding of God wanting to rescue His people.

No matter what Judas had heard Jesus teach, no matter what Judas had seen Jesus do, in the way of miracles, including raising Lazarus from the tomb, Judas is a stark contrast between Jesus’  heart  and mission and what was the religious leaders’ heart and intentions.

And here is Mary, under then power of the Holy Spirit, anointing Jesus.  And here is Judas under the influence of satan confronting her. You might be thinking, “I wish that I could have been there to anoint Jesus with ointment.  To bless Him To thank Him to Glorify Him.” Or, you may be thinking, “I wish I could have stood between Judas and Mary, to protect her — to protect the moment.”

Listen, when your life is fully dedicated and consecrated to Jesus as The Christ, as The Lord of your life, when He is first in your life, like Mary, your work for Him will be established. 

We end up making excuses, sometimes, and we miss the mark of what Jesus wants us to do. When this happens, we need to go before Our Father, ask for forgiveness.  We need to repent. Put away the excuses because we don’t want to be like that anymore. Then seek The Holy Spirit to equip you, to work through you, to do what God wants you to do.

And your motive is, that you want more of Him.  Then you are pouring a blessing upon Him and upon yourself.  You are pouring out the nard upon Jesus.  Your sacrifice for others is in the name of Jesus, for His Kingdom, and is pouring blessings upon Jesus Himself.

Jesus Is Lord,

Amen!