The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Passion for Jesus – Part 3

“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” – Mark 14:9

In the opening part of this series we defined passion as a driving force, a deep emotion in the heart, a fire in the belly, a heart aflame. People have a passion for many things, but how many have a passion for Jesus? We also said that passion for Jesus based on popularity, politics, provision, self-promotion, or pride will not stand the test of time; it will only be a Palm Sunday passion.


In the second part of the series we saw that a passion for Jesus begins with falling at His feet in recognition of our depth and debt of sin and that through faith in Jesus we can be forgiven. In our next part we will see that a passion for Jesus involves a passion for the hope we have in Jesus. The point of this part is that a passion for Jesus falls at His feet aware of His living hope (power over death.) Our passion for Jesus is based in part on the living hope we have in Him. To make this point we will be looking expositionally at John 12:1-11. Let’s dig in.

     Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.

This event took place at the house of Lazarus who Jesus had raised from the dead (cf. John 11). Mary saw that with Jesus there is always hope. Peter came to refer to it as “living hope” (1 Peter1:3-4). Lazarus sitting at the table with Jesus was living proof of His living hope.

It was six days before the passion of Jesus on the cross.

2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 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 the oil.

Again we see the passion of Jesus exemplified by a humble act of a woman toward Jesus. Mary knew the Lord and had a saving relationship with Him. She too brought valuable perfume and anointed Jesus feet. Our faithful devotion should not stop once we are saved and forgiven of our sins.

Mary followed suit with the previous notoriously sinful woman in Luke 7. She wiped Jesus feet with her hair and the costly spikenard. Her act of worship filled the house with a beautiful fragrance. In the old testament fragrant aroma is connected with sacrifice, worship (Exodus 29:18, 25, 41; Lev. 1:9, 13, 17)  and prayer (Exodus 30; Rev. 8:3-4) to God. God loves the aroma of a fellowship meal as well as the sweet smell of worshipful incense or perfume All of this was no doubt fueled in connection with Jesus’ raising Lazarus, Mary’s brother, from the dead. She had a passion for Jesus that was connected with His power over death.

Keith Green, a Christian musician and minister who died too soon once commented, “If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence...? You'd be bored to tears in heaven, if you're not ecstatic about God now!” 

Mary wanted more of Jesus. She wanted to do more, give more to Jesus. That’s the sign of the beginnings of revival. Someone has said, “And, here is something that you will find in the lives of all the great saints of God in the Church throughout the ages, and particularly in men on whom God lays his hand in this matter of revival and of intercession. The first thing that happens to them is that they themselves feel this desire for a deeper knowledge of God. Of course, they are good men, they are orthodox men. They believe in God, they know they are saved, they have assurance of salvation – they may have had it for years, - but now they begin to feel a hunger and a thirst for something bigger and something deeper. They read their Bibles, and they feel that here there is some deeper and some fuller knowledge of God, and God’s love, and that is what they want. They are no longer content with what I may call the ordinary condition of the Church. They want something extraordinary, something unusual.” [1] Do you want more of Jesus? Would you worship Jesus in such a way? What aroma does your worship of Jesus produce? How’s your passion for Jesus?

4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

There are enough differences between this incident and the one in Mark 14 to justify seeing them as two separate incidents. Judas was worried about losing out on some of the funds he was pilfering. Those who are concerned about enriching themselves always look down on deep extravagant worship. What is your opinion about what Mary did to Jesus?

7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

Remember what Jesus said, “Leave her alone.” The Lord will stick up for you in such situations too. Just remember nothing done for Jesus is ever a waste in any way. The Lord is looking for those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2 Chron. 16:9b). He is looking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Mary was in the Spirit. The Spirit was ministering to her heart as she ministered in worship to Jesus. That is a pattern in the New Testament (cf. Acts 13).

Notice too that Jesus connects this act of passion with His burial and future cross work. Apparently Mary had received insight from the Spirit about Jesus sacrifice; something the disciples had not yet understood. God often speaks to us as we worship Him.

9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

It may be that the other gospels omitted the names of those involved in this incident so as to not provide evidence to persecutors who would harm Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

The point here is that with Jesus there is always hope. Lazarus was dead and entombed four days. But Jesus was able to raise Him from the dead. Remember that, nothing is ever hopeless with Jesus. Praise Him. Worship Him. Be attentive to the Spirit and let that truth enflame your passion for Him.

[1] Martin Lloyd Jones, Revival, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1987) pgs. 177

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