The Herald Weekly Vol XVIII : 2

Loving God

In the Gospel of John, the Apostle John wrote to both believers of Christ, and unbelievers. He was addressing people who were very skeptical about Jesus, His words and deeds. As we read the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of John, we need to consider three main events which had, or were taking place. As usual, when things happen, there are different reactions or responses from different groups of people.

Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany. His sisters and dear friends were rejoicing over the fact that their brother/friend is alive. Many in the neighbourhood who had heard about this miraculous event wanted to see not only Jesus, but Lazarus with their own eyes. However, the chief priests were not happy about this. Because of this event, many Jews believed in Jesus (vs 11). The chief priests were plotting how to get rid of Jesus (Jn 11:45-53). They were also not happy with Lazarus too, and were plotting how to put him to death (Jn 12:9-10).

As Lazarus’s sister, Martha, served supper to their distinguished Guest and other visitors, Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard (a few costly bottle of perfume), and anointed Jesus’ feet (vs 3). You can imagine the shock in the eyes of those who were present. Their reactions are not recorded for us, but the reaction of Judas Iscariot (vv 4-6) is recorded for our learning. As the one who held the purse (in modern terms, he was the Treasurer), he must have been very ‘careful’ about spending what is in the bag. He thought it was a waste to pour the perfume on Jesus’ feet when the perfume could have been sold, and the proceeds given to the poor. Was this his genuine concern for the poor, or does this really show his lack of love for his Master? Join the Apostle reveals that Judas was a “thief”; probably, he knew that Judas had not been honest in his dealings with the contents of the bag.

But, in the midst of a mixed reaction from those present Jesus commended Mary, for what she did was in preparation for the “day of my burying” (vs 7). Jesus also said, “For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (vs 8). Indeed, sometimes we are more willing to give generously to charitable organizations than to give to the needs of God’s work and workers without anyone knowing. Which do we love more, God or public recognition?

1) Jesus, The Promised King

A day after Lazarus’ resurrection and the anointing of Jesus’ feet, those who heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, “took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (vs 13). ‘Hosanna’ means ‘Save me!’ It is vital for us to understand that this is one of the main themes of the Bible. Some Bible commentators refer to the Bible as a summation of Israel’s longing for a King.

The Book of Genesis records for us men’s rejection of God as their King. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve rejected God as their King. They chose to disobey God because they want to be like God. They doubted His words, and preferred to believe the words of the tempter. Because of their disobedience, they were chased out of the Garden of Eden.

Even when God raised Moses to lead His people out of the bondage in Egypt, the Hebrew people still rejected their God in the wilderness. Many chose to worship the golden calf which they forced Aaron to build for them. Even when they were led into the Promised Land by Joshua, the nation of Israel rejected God as their King when they rejected Samuel the priest, and asked to have a king like all the other nations.

But, Jesus was their Promised King. Isaiah 9:6 was the prophecy for this Promised King.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Judas Iscariot did not want Jesus as his King. He probably loves money more than Jesus. Matt 26:15 says, “And (Judas) said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” The crowds who welcome Jesus as their king with palm leaves were later the same ones who shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Jn 19:6)

Are we also like Judas Iscariot sometimes, or even one of the crowd, rejecting Jesus as our King, loving money, status, family, work, school more than our Master? Do we sometimes claim our own territory as ‘king’ in our home, school or office, and not placing Christ as King of our lives?

2) Jesus, The Obedient Son

As these things took place, Jesus, our Saviour, must have pondered on His purpose of life on earth. His heart was troubled, and He prayed “Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (vs 27-28)

John the Apostle records in vv 24-25, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” The idea of a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground is familiar to the Jews. They understood what it means. When a grain of wheat is sown into the ground, it eventually sheds its outer shell so that stalks of wheat will grow and more wheat grains will be produced.

Jesus knew the purpose of His life on earth. He knew that He was to bear the sins of the world. When He hung on the cross, God saw the sin of the world on Christ’s shoulders, and poured out His wrath on Christ for our sakes. Christ died that we might have life with God eternally. Jesus knew what kind of death He would die, yet, He obeyed God.

Adam and Eve were created by God in the Garden of Eden. They were created in God’s image. Yet, they chose to disobey God. The book of Genesis records the disobedience of God’s chosen race. They were brought into Egypt because of a famine, and through Joseph, the son of Jacob, survived the famine, and reproduced. Later, they were led out of the bondage of Egypt by Moses.

Hosea 11:1 says, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” But, as mentioned before, even when led out of bondage of Pharaoh, the Israelites still chose to disobey their God, and worshipped other gods.

3) Loving God, Obeying Him

What about us? We are created by God, and in His image. We have been called out of our bondage to sin, from the world of darkness, but, are we obedient to Him? Have we loved God more than our family, money, position in life? Are we willing to be like Christ our Master, who was obedient to His Father? Are we willing to be that grain of wheat that should fall on the ground so that more people would be brought to Christ?

John 12:25-26 says, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve Me, him will my Father honour.”

Mary took a bottle of perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet. Judas knows that the perfume costs a year’s wages. But, Mary did not care about the people around her, or what they were thinking or saying; neither was she considering the cost of the perfume. We should take the temperature of our hearts and our love for Jesus today. Let us consider what we are willing to give up for Christ, our Master.

What can we do to increase our love for Christ? What can we do to be more obedient to His Word? Let us start the year right. Let us start with reading the Bible daily, and prayerfully obeying His commandments. Think about your home and family, your career or other things that you hold dear. What would you be willing to give up for Christ today? Though Christ is not physically with us so that we can pour perfume on His feet, we belong to His body, the Church.

May God guide and show us how we can increase our love for Him, His work and His people.

Pastor Bob Phee
(adapted from M Collins’ message on Loving Life In The New Year)

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