November 2, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We see three people in John 12:1 through 3 engaged in three different ways of Relating To Jesus. All are siblings of the same wealthy family living in Bethany just over two miles east of Jerusalem. Martha, Lazarus and Mary are portraying for us three aspects of the complete Christian life. Here is the scripture:
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus, came to Bethany, where
Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was
one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound
of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped
His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of
• First is Martha, serving the Lord as He and His disciples sat at dinner. Serving is one way we must be Relating To Jesus. But in another scripture, Luke 10:38 through 42, we learned Martha let herself get “…distracted with much serving…,” so her life became unbalanced with too much emphasis on serving.
• Second is Lazarus, sitting down at the table with Jesus, in fellowship with Him. This is not service, but just enjoying His company as friend to Friend, brother to Brother. We don’t often enough just enjoy being in the presence of the Lord!
But these first two ways of Relating To Jesus – though good and needed – do not complete the whole Christian experience.
• We see Mary engaging in the third way of Relating To Jesus in verse 3 of our scripture: “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.” Mary was worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ! By the way, this incident took place, not at Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s home, but “…at the house of Simon the leper…” also in Bethany (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). One more ‘discrepancy’ is that in the Matthew and Mark accounts, Mary anointed Jesus’ head with the oil, and His feet are not mentioned. The obvious solution to this ‘error in scripture’ is that she poured the oil on both His feet and His head!
But the point I want to make is this: It was Mary, in Luke 10:39, who “…sat at Jesus feet and heard His word.” And it was Mary of whom Jesus said, after she had poured the oil of spikenard on His feet and head,“She has done a good work for Me….She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.” Apparently, only Mary – of all Jesus’ followers – understood that He must suffer and die before He would bring in His glorious kingdom on earth! She understood this because she had “…sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” (Luke 10:39). While Martha was serving, while Lazarus was fellowshipping, Mary was worshiping the Lord!
Although mentioned last of the activities in our scripture, I would put worship first in Relating To Jesus. For out of worship flows proper service and fellowship! And, as stated before, Mary worshiped the Lord Jesus properly and sincerely because she had spent time listening to His teaching! I have said it many times in many blogs over the past two and a half years, Dwelling in God’s Word is the most important single thing a Christian can do! It is as Paul wrote in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….” For out of “Let[ting] the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” will come “…be[ing] filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18 – see the blog from March 18th, 2013 – Be Filled With What?); “…the fruit of the Spirit…” (see Galatians 5:22, 23); holiness (see Psalm 119:9-11; John 17:17); and a host of other essentials and benefits of the Christian life – as well as proper worship, service and fellowship!
Following Mary’s act of worship, Judas, in John 12:4 – joined also by others (see Matthew 26:8, 9; Mark 14:4, 5) – indignantly objected, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Three hundred denarii was equal to a year’s wage for the common man! Can we be so ‘wasteful’ when we worship the Lord as to lavish a year’s wage on just worshiping Him? Jesus defended her! “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.” (Mark 14:6).
This teaching helped me as I pastored my first church. The Trustees presented to the members – and they approved the plan – to restore the church organ at a cost of over $5,000. This was an exorbitant amount to my way of thinking! That was my salary for the entire year back in the early 1970’s! And I thought, “So much good can be done elsewhere with that amount of money – even giving a raise to me, their pastor!” But then I came across this ‘wasteful’ illustration as Mary worshiped Jesus. After thinking about it and asking God for His wisdom, I joyously approved of restoring our church organ to facilitate better worship in our church! As God leads us, we can apparently ‘waste’ resources to worship Jesus!
So there you have it – the three examples that cover the whole of the Christian experience:
• Service to the Lord
• Fellowship with the Lord, and…
• Worship of the Lord.
In Relating To Jesus, do not neglect any one of these three!