The chapter begins telling us it’s 6 days before Jesus dies, there is a dinner in honour of Jesus. How do you thank a man who just raised your dead brother to life? Jesus is at a meal with Mary and Martha in Bethany. We have been in this house before in Luke 10 where Martha was in the kitchen and Mary is at the feet of Jesus listening to Jesus. Martha told Jesus to tell her sister to stop being a bludger and start making tabouli and homos, but Jesus says “Martha you are worried at so many things but one thing matters.” Jesus defends Mary over her sister's wrong focus
Now in John 12, Martha is back in the kitchen this time so thankful to serve her Lord, doing the same thing from a different heart, Mary is again in at the feet of Jesus in verse 3, this time she is offering extravagant worship
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. (NIV)
Mary understands the value of Jesus. This perfume was a year's salary, an average salary in NSW is $83,000. That is an expensive perfume and she believed that Jesus was worth it. She humbles herself before Jesus by pouring it on his feet and she wipes the excess perfume with her glorious hair, she sees Jesus in all his glory. What a beautiful picture! The perfume fills the air with this beautiful scent. These 2 sisters once crying at their dead brother and now they are serving, thanking and worshiping Jesus with joy.
With Jesus you give your best, because he turns death to life, and tears to joy. He gives dead brothers back to his grieving sisters and the house is full of a joyful scent. From Salvation to Gratitude from Gratitude to Worship and from Worship to Outrageous generosity.
We see how precious Jesus is through the eyes of Mary, not everyone thinks Jesus is worth it. Judas is one of the 12 and he complains that it was way too expensive and so wasteful and the money was too much they should have gone to ALDI and got the cheap brand, it should have been used for the poor, verse 4.
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. (NIV)
There is something particularly evil when you use the poor as a cover up for your greed. They say of Communists: "it’s not that they love the poor but that they just hate the rich." Judas didn't care for the poor.
You may not know, but Jesus and the disciples were financially supported by the generosity of others. In the same way as our MBM staff are funded solely by your generosity. It’s not like Jesus kept performing miracles to feed the 12 for 3 years. It's brekkie boys watch me turn this rock into a croissant? Luke 8 tells us that they went from town to town preaching for 3 years because in a group of women funded them. Judas managed those funds, but he was helping himself to some of the money, just enough to NOT be noticed. Its why no pastoral staff at MBM touches money, we have two people count and they can't be married or siblings. The financials are audited by an accountant outside of MBM and the accounts are presented at the AGM.
People like to turn Judas into a victim, they see his betrayal of Jesus as a bad decision in a good life, but he was consistently stealing and refused to repent. If you keep sinning without repentance then your sins will grow in other areas and they will become more serious. What started off as taking a few shekels from the giving bag ends up betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas never saw Jesus in His glory. Mary worshiped Jesus with her money and Judas worshiped money for his greed, Judas despised Mary's generosity.
Some despise us for our building and for putting on an extension, for developing the café and doing things well, when these are gifts given by thankful people who see that Jesus is worth it and Jesus people are worth it and the lost are worth it.
It's right to expect charities to give to those who they claim to help on time and with low admin costs, but to say as one lady on radio said ‘I'm not going to give to any more charities’ I think that is awfully convenient. The thing about the poor is you will always have in a way but you wont have me. Jesus protects Mary again. The word to Judas is, ‘leave her alone.’ Don’t let anyone stop you from being extravagant in your worship of Jesus.
In the dinner party Lazarus says nothing and he does nothing, he just sits there eating with Jesus, very much alive. I wonder if those healed by Jesus would have annual catch ups. They were part of “Jesus healed me club”. Like the Man in Wollongong bitten by a shark and has now been invited to Bite club. Like the scene from Jaws where two main characters out-do each other with shark bite stories.
In the Jesus healed me club. The wedding planning said “I was at a wedding when I saw Jesus turn 600 litres of Water into the best Red Wine I have ever tasted. One man says “I was born blind and now I can see” Another guy says “I was a paraplegic for 38 years and I'm now running. Then Lazarus comes along and says, That is nothing, I was stone cold dead in a tomb for not 1, not 2, not 3, but for 4 long days, Jesus then called me by name, I awoke and walked out gift wrapped and all
Lazarus was now exhibit A, he was the evidence that Jesus is the Son of God the Messiah. Many now came to see not just Jesus but to see Lazarus. Those who saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb were telling others. You could not shut them up! The response by the Jewish leaders was to put a contract out on both Lazarus and Jesus. They wanted to get rid of the evidence. How perverted to kill the one who raises the dead. Verse 18 and 19 tell us they were exasperated
Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (NIV)
They could not stop the massive tidal wave of support. When Jesus enters Jerusalem crowds go berserk, they could see Jesus enter the city as their Saviour King, riding on a donkey, in line with Zechariah 9. Taking full charge and this was happening according to plan. The crowds look to Jesus to save them. What we see is that nothing is going to stop Jesus. The hour had come, Jesus was not going to be put off. We will never see the true Jesus unless we see Jesus glory by understanding his death and Jesus' agony over his death.
One man was to carry the full price for sins of the world. So profoundly troubled. When you're troubled, anxious or you’re depressed pray to Jesus your high priest because He really knows pain first hand. Verse 27-28
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (NIV)
Jesus was troubled, but he will not press the eject button, His hour had come and it would be His finest hour, your life and my life will end in death and sometimes unexpected death like Kobe Bryant, Basketball great, who died with his 13 year old daughter in a helicopter accident. Tragic
But Jesus chooses to go to death, what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No! So deliberate. So purposeful. No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” How does the cross bring glory to the Father and the Son? At the cross we see how much God loves you, at the cross we see how perfectly just God is. Verse 23
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (NIV)
The death of one means life for the rest of us. The act of planting a seed can look like a burial, the end of life. But wait, it proves to be the beginning of so much more, we see Jesus whose death gives us life.
The cross exposes the heart of every human. Dick Lucas, a preacher I love to listen to, was asked to give a Good Friday talk. He sent through the title “Given half a chance man's first inclination when he meets God face to face is to kill him.” Those nails at the cross did to Jesus what our sins have been trying to do, kill God off. But verse 31,
…now the prince of this world will be driven out. (NIV)
The Prince of this world is the Devil. When Christ was enthroned on the cross Satan was dethroned. Satan the great liar who says, "you will not die... there are no consequences... God is ripping you off"’ is defeated. He did not manage to trip Jesus up once. Satan the greater accuser who says, "you will never be forgiven" was fully disarmed. His weapons can't shoot bullets of accusation. When Christ looked so powerless, He snatches victory on the ropes certain to lose and steals victory.
When I attend my old catholic church up the road, we had a custom on Palm Sunday of being given palm folded in the form of a cross, I remember one day putting the palm leaf through the hole of the church floor to defeat Satan, I didn’t know Christ had already defeated Satan. But more than simply defeating the enemy, verse 32
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (NIV)
It's why we approach mission optimistically. Notice "when I’m lifted up", it’s not Jesus the preacher, or the healer but Jesus crucified who bring all people to himself. That is what has happened and that is why Christianity is the most international faith in the world. Christianity is the religion of over 2000 different language groups in the world. More people pray and worship in more languages than in another religion in the world.
Verse 37 tells us that not everyone wanted to see Jesus.
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. (NIV)
Could that be you? No matter how much evidence, you just explain it away. Maybe you, like in verse 42 do believe but are afraid to go public.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (NIV)
Approval of people can stop us from coming to Jesus and approval of people stops us from going public with Jesus. The Greeks ask Philip what it would be like to see Jesus. Philip takes them to Andrew and together they take them to Jesus.
Are you helping people see Jesus? We start each year with a 9 word challenge and it’s ‘Would you like to read the bible with me?’ This year I'm starting with a 6 word challenge ‘Would you like to see Jesus?’ You will be trained in growth groups with a simple method. Let Jesus introduce himself. Let the bible do the heavy lifting. Don’t be afraid of the text.
Iszy from the 4pm service has been retelling gospel stories to her muslim friends. On one occasion she told of how Jesus healed the bleeding woman and the raising of Jairus 12 year old daughter from the dead. Her friends said ‘this story is melting my heart’. She then told the story of the women caught in adultery, her Muslim friend said “I'm thinking of a word that’s stronger than wisdom, to describe Jesus”
Iszy is at the shop here in Rooty Hill, talking to a muslim woman serving at the counter, the woman says, "I would like to come to church. Is that ok?" Iszy said "No way", only joking she said “Yes” So 2 weeks ago 14, young Muslim women from Pakistan were at Sunday at 4pm, their feedback, ‘it was a brilliant experience.’
Jesus said ‘When I’m lifted up, I will draw all people to myself’ We don’t have to manipulate people because its Jesus who draws people to himself. We have the simple task of introducing them to the bible and the Sunday service and Explaining Christianity. A few weeks ago, I encouraged you to write up impossible prayer points. On that list is someone you can invite. Is it time God wants you to be the answer to those prayers? For those who see Jesus and now want to surrender to him, there’s no time like the present to say yes. Don’t stay in the darkness. Don’t miss out on life everlasting.