JOHN:The Book of Heartfelt Belief
The Sweet Smell of Devotion
Jerry A. Collins
It seems to me that in life we have one of two options which shape and characterize the quality of our lives. One way is to live is open-handedly being givers who openly and sacrificially even extravagantly give to their Lord and others. Another way to live is closed-fisted a taker, hoarding secretly and selfishly for myself! These two options are juxtaposed in John 12:1-11. As we view these options we will learn the lesson that to take every opportunity to display extravagant devotion to Christ because the time is short and limited to do so.
1. OUR DEVOTION TO CHRIST SHOULD BE CHARACTERIZED BY LAVISH GIVING 1-3
The time schedule will become much more definite and critical hereon with John. This is certainly the beginning of the end. We come to the final week of our Lordís earthly ministry. The crucifixion is just a week away. Six days, in fact, until Passover! The occasion for this gathering seems to be a dinner with Jesus closest of friends, Martha, Mary, Lazarus, recently raised from the dead and others. Lazarus himself would attract a lot of attention as so Jesus. This would certainly qualify as a joyful occasion.
During the meal, Mary makes her way to Jesus, breaks open a flask filled with expensive perfume, pours it on Christ and from the Matthew 26 account lets the liquid run down Jesusí body and uses her hair to wipe up any excess running to the floor near His feet. A truly needless waste some will think. Nearly every time Mary is mentioned by these gospel writers, we find her at Jesusí feet either learning from Him, crying to him or anointing him. Contrast this with the disciples who time and again push and shove to get alongside Christ, at His right hand or left, but noone wanting the place at His feet...except Mary. Devoted disciples know that there is always room at Jesus feet--room to be humble, menial, doing needful things, giving lavishly on His behalf. We learn later that this perfume was appraised at nearly a years salary. Probably in the kind of container meant to use a little at a time, this broken flasks fragrance permeates the whole house.
What we give to Christ must be of a lavish nature! Something worthy of Him. Think about how you have Ďindulgedí yourself in some way. You may have done that by spending more on yourself than usual. Our giving to Christ and for Christ should always be like that! Extravagant. Lavish. Sacrificial. Open-handed. Our obedience should always be lavish, never half-hearted. Our service, ministry must always be displayed by the best I can give never just what I can get by with. Most of us know how to do this with our careers, our leisureís, our pleasures but it is in our devotion to Christ that our extravagant giving should display itself most! Does Christ receive your ravish giving? Does He get the best of all that you have to offer? Does this characterize your devotion, your worship of Christ? Mary sets the example for us.
2. SELFISH AMBITION WILL KEEP US FROM BECOMING LAVISH GIVERS 4-6
John gives us two snippets about Judas with the hindsight of history. First, he tells us that Judas was the one who was intending to betray Christ vs 4. Second, we learn that Judas as the treasurer was a thief who pilfered from their money box vs. 6. So, we should suspect something when Judas objects in vs 5 to what he believes is a lavish waste. It sounds so pious but Judas was dishonest. In Marks account in Mark 14:4-5 the disciples even pick up on Judasí criticism and rebuke Mary harshly. The point being that Like Judas, the disciples have been preoccupied with their own selfish ambitions like the status and power of being attached to the Lordís coming kingdom. For Judas it was power and status with money. Soon we will see that Judas realizes that there is not going to be a great kingdom with a huge budget from which he can continue to pilfer commission. He will even betray Christ for money.
Selfish ambition focuses me on myself. It gets its pleasure not from having something but from having more of it than the next guy. It always divides people because its real goal is power over them. It expects God to serve us by doing what we think is good for God. It focuses on my status or achievements independent of God. Tight-fisted, I will never become the lavish giver that Jesus admires. I must not think of myself first when confronted with an opportunity to give! If I am then that selfish ambition will limit the kind of giver Jesus wants to reward me for.
3. OUR TIME TO GIVE EXTRAVAGANTLY FOR CHRIST IS LIMITED 7-11
Jesus in essence tells them to stop their criticism. Enough of that! Leave Mary alone! You will have no end of opportunities to serve the poor in the future, but this is the time to serve me in this way. In other words, the causes of poverty are many and helping the poor will be possible for every generation...but the opportunity to show your devotion to me while here on earth is limited by my impending death! She has been saving up this ointment for just this moment. Mary does have a greater sense of what is about to happen with an appropriate response to it than do the disciples. While Jesus argues that what Mary does is because there is little time left, I would suggest that we may not have much time left either..until He comes again!
The lesson for us is to make the best use of our time by deepening our devotion to Christ and demonstrations of extravagant giving that may be misunderstood by others but be a pleasing aroma to Christ!
1. Give spontaneously. There was no command for Mary to do this. It was from her heart.
2. Give eagerly. Donít drag your feet, bide your time, wait it out!
3. Give what you have to give. Mary had this ointment it was not somebody elseís. You can give out of poverty as well as abundance.
4. Give what you give to the Lord. Not attracting attention to self but as it were at the Lords feet I give this or that.
5. Give with eternity in view. Jesus will reward all giving to Him and for Him. The Father have extravagantly. So should we!!!!!!!