Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 11:45-12:11
The Gospel of John is an eyewitness account from the Apostle John, who was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples along with his brother James, as well as Peter.
To believe is to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something. A person becomes a child of God by believing in Jesus. John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
The theme of John- John 20:30-31 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.
John always uses the word ‘believe’ in the present tense. To believe is to have an active, continuous, living trust in Jesus. In whom you place your faith and believe in, is a matter of life and death, and is a matter of eternity. There are signs throughout the Gospel of John regarding who Jesus is. Jesus always verifies what He claims. His claims and His credentials are consistent. In John 11, the sign authenticating the power of Jesus is when He raised Lazarus from the dead, the brother of Mary and Martha. As a result of this, many of the Jews who came and saw what He did, believed in Him (v45). Some did not, and they went to the Pharisees, the religious leaders, to tell them what Jesus had done. The religious leaders knew what Jesus was doing, and they were threatened. They were concerned that everybody would believe in Jesus, and in turn, the Romans would remove their place in the nation.
Caiphas was the High Priest that year. Originally, this was a lifetime position, but the Romans had limited it to prevent any one person gaining too much power. So they appointed High Priests for their own benefit. There is great irony in Caiphas’ words. He pointed to the last sacrificial Lamb in a prophecy he did not even know he made. He meant that Jesus had to be killed. God intended what he said to be a reference to the substitutionary atonement of Jesus.
From that point forward they plotted to kill Jesus (v53). The time had not come for Him to be crucified, so he left and went to Ephraim and stayed there with the disciples. As people went up to Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover, they were looking for Jesus, and orders were given for His arrest if anyone saw Him.
There are several accounts in the Gospels of a woman anointing Jesus with a precious fragrance. John’s account is closest to the one in Mark 14:3-9. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany and it caused quite the ruckus among the people and the religious leaders. The Passover was approaching and Jesus’ public ministry was coming toward a conclusion.
The setting is the home of Simon the Leper, and the dinner is in honor of Jesus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany were there, as were the Disciples. They prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Bethany is about two miles east of Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Jesus was on His way to Calvary, to the Cross. In a few days, He would be crucified.
Let’s consider three ways the Christian life should be lived broken and spilled out, because Jesus is worthy.
Jesus is worthy, and we should give our best to worship Him.
Mary loved Jesus, and was grateful for raising her brother from the dead. The whole family was close with Jesus. Love for Jesus should be the motive for all we do in worship to Him. Mary took a pound of fragrant oil- pure and expensive nard- and anointed Him. Pure nard was a spice that came from the Himalayan Mountains in the far north of India. Nard was imported to Israel at a great expense. We are not told how Mary had acquired the nard, maybe it was a family possession. The estimate was that it could have been sold for 300 denarii, or about a year’s wages for a working man. Mary understood that Jesus is worthy of our best. She shows a greater understanding of the mission of Jesus than His own disciples.
God has given His best for us-
Psalm 40:5 Lord my God, You have done many things— Your wonderful works and Your plans for us, none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told.
John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Titus 2:14 Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.
God needs nothing, but He deserves everything. When we give our best to the Lord in worship to Him, there are several practical ways that are evidence of whether or not we are truly giving our best.
Give your best by giving yourself in worship to Him- Walk with God, come before Him each day in His Word and in Prayer.
The right response to receiving God’s mercy is to give yourself to Him out of thanksgiving. Years ago, Captain Shaw was a medical missionary with the Salvation Army in India. He visited a leper colony that his mission was going to serve. He saw three men with shackles on their hands and feet, cutting into their diseased flesh. Captain Shaw’s eyes brimmed with tears as he told the guard, “Please unfasten the chains.” “It isn’t safe,” the guard said. “These men are dangerous criminals as well as lepers!”
“I’ll be responsible,” said Shaw. “They’re suffering enough.” After the shackles were removed, he treated the men’s bleeding wrists and ankles. About two weeks later, Captain Shaw had his first misgivings about freeing these criminals. He had to make an overnight trip and he hesitated to leave his wife and child alone. His wife insisted that she wasn’t afraid; God was there. The morning after he left, his wife went to the front door and was startled to see the three former criminals lying on her steps. One explained, “We know the doctor is gone. We stayed here all night so no harm came to you.” These men had experienced the doctor’s mercy. They responded out of love and gratitude by serving him.
The motive for giving yourself totally to God is that you have experienced His great mercy in Christ. Have you experienced His mercy by calling on Him to save you? Without that, all service to God is just moralism, based on wrong motives. The only right motive is God’s mercy through the Gospel.
Give your best by giving your spiritual gifts in worship to Him- God gifts His children by the power of the Spirit to bless His church. The gifts are diverse, given for the benefit of others. How are you using your gifts?
Give your best by giving your time in worship to Him- You have 168 hours each week, and He expects you to use them and steward them wisely. Ask God to help you make the most of your time each day.
Give your best by giving your resources in worship to Him- If what you give doesn’t cost you anything, then you haven’t really given.
Give your best to worship Jesus.
Jesus is worthy, and we should humble ourselves to serve Him.
Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with the fragrant oil, and wiped them with her hair. The parallel accounts of Matthew and Mark tell us His head was anointed, which would signify His kingship. In Bible times, the dusty and dirty conditions of the region and the wearing of sandals necessitated foot-washing. A servant’s lowly task was to wash a guest’s feet. In John 13 we will find Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, an act of great humility. She fulfilled Jesus’ words, that we ought to wash the feet of another, even before He is recorded to have said these words.
So Mary poured the fragrant oil on his feet and rather than using a towel, she wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. A respectable Jewish woman never let her hair down in public. Mary was so caught up in worship, she didn’t care what others thought of her. This made the disciples uncomfortable but Mary was focused. The entire house was filled with the fragrance.
Christian humility means understanding who God is, and who we are in Him.
Do you consider yourself to be humble? Careful how you answer that! What does it really mean to be a humble servant? Jesus demonstrated it in His life.
Moses is an OT example of humble service to God. What do you think of when you think of Moses? The Exodus? The parting of the Red Sea? The Ten Commandments? God is not impressed by all of our credentials or accomplishments. “The man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3
King Uzziah is an OT example of pride. He became King of Judah at the age of 16. He sought the Lord and God made him prosper. As a result he acquired wealth and became powerful politically and militarily. 2 Chronicles 26:15-16 His fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.
Matthew 20 tells of a time when the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons, to ask Him for something. Jesus asked her what she wanted. She said promise that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on your left, in Your kingdom. Jesus said you do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink? They said, “We are able.”
Jesus said you will indeed drink My cup, but to sit at My right and left is not Mine to give, it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father. The other disciples didn’t like what the mother and brothers were doing. Jesus called them over and said, You know the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you.
Matthew 20:26 Whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life- a ransom for many.
History shows at every point how easy it is for pride to take over. Pride goes before destruction, pride comes before the fall. In his classic, The Training of the Twelve ([Kregel], p. 180), A. B. Bruce observed, “The whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief end of man.” As you know, God’s glory should be our chief end. We glorify Him by serving Him with true humility in light of His gracious gifts to us.
God takes pleasure in our efforts to humble ourselves, and he loves to bless and exalt the humble.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
I Peter 5:5 God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
Stay focused on grace, to humble yourself and serve. All that you have, including your faith, has been given to you by God. Humility is a byproduct of belief in the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we have a confidence not based in our performance but in the love of God in Christ (Rom. 3:22-24). This frees us from having to always be looking at ourselves. Our sin was so great, nothing less than the death of Jesus could save us. He had to die for us. But his love for us was so great, Jesus was glad to die for us. Know that you do not deserve, nor are you entitled, to anything. Perceived rights swell up all kinds of pride in us.
Determine to use all God has given to you for His glory, humbly trusting Him with the results.
Humble yourself to serve Jesus.
Jesus is worthy and we should be willing to endure criticism to honor Him.
Judas, was critical of Mary for doing what she did. According to Matthew the other disciples were indignant also and said, why this waste? They saw it all as being wasted on Jesus. They said she could have sold the nard and given 90 percent of the money to help poor people and still given a good amount to the Lord.
The contrast between Judas and Mary could not have been greater. Judas cared nothing about the poor, he was a thief. He had the money box and used to help himself to the funds. Mary was selfless and giving, Judas was selfish and greedy.
When you give your best, and humble yourself to worship Jesus, criticism will come, and some of the worst criticism will come from the inside at times.
Many years ago, John Paton announced that he planned to move with his new wife to take the Gospel to cannibals in the South Sea Islands. An old man in his church said, “you’ll be eaten by cannibals!” Paton replied, “My dear sir, you are getting up in years and soon will be laid in the grave and eaten by worms. If I can but live and die honoring the Lord Jesus, it doesn’t matter to me whether I’m eaten by cannibals or by worms, and on resurrection day, my body will arise as fair as yours!” (John G. Paton Autobiography).
1 Peter 2:21-25 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
We are called to suffering for Christ- you have been called for this purpose.
We identify with Christ in suffering.
We grow through suffering- God matures us through it.
“If we consider the greatness and the glory of the life we shall have when we have risen from the dead, it would not be difficult at all for us to bear the concerns of this world. If I believe the Word, I shall on the Last Day, after the sentence has been pronounced, not only gladly have suffered ordinary temptations, insults, and imprisonment, but I shall also say: ‘O, that I did not throw myself under the feet of all the godless for the sake of the great glory which I now see revealed and which has come to me through the merit of Christ!'” Martin Luther.
Jesus said, v7 “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.” Now she had just poured out the perfume, how could she keep it to anoint Jesus after He died? We are not sure how much Mary understood about His death that was coming. What is clear, is that Jesus was connecting what she had just done, with the price He was about to pay for our sins.
Jesus probably meant the disciples should permit Mary to keep the custom of anointing for burial, since Jesus’ burial was not far away. Mary was anointing Jesus out of love, as mourners anointed the bodies of loved ones who had died. It was not uncommon to do this at lavish expense. Jesus saw her act as a pre-anointing for His death and burial.
Now the news had come that He was in Bethany. The appearance of the resurrected Lazarus intensified the curiosity of many Jerusalem residents and pilgrims who traveled to see both of them. The Sanhedrin concluded they would have to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus. Many of the Jews believed on Jesus when they heard about Lazarus’ resurrection or saw him.
The Christian life should be lived broken and spilled out, because Jesus is worthy!
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. (John 1:29)
Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35)
Jesus is the Light of the World. (John 8:12)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. (John 10:11)
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. (John 11:25-26)