Jesus Did Party Hardy 3/23/98

John 12:1-11
Page 1574 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ was God incarnate, that is, God in flesh and blood. As such, by His spirit today, He wants to work in and through your flesh and blood. On a rare occasion immediately preceding His betrayal, He gathered some of the most remarkable trophies of His grace to illustrate for us His power to transform lives. By looking in on this celebration we can get a glimpse of what He can do in lives – our lives.

JESUS was the joyous guest of honor. His presence there dispels the stereotype of a party chilling Christ. On one occasion, at a party in His honor, He was so jubilant His detractors accused Him of being drunk. When He saves us He doesn’t rob us of social grace or cancel our need for expressing joy.

“…the joy of the LORD is your strength”” (Nehemiah 8:10). If that is true, and it is, how strong are you?

SIMON was the happy host. Matthew 26: 6-13 records him as the host. Jesus saved him and cleansed him of leprosy, now he shows his gratitude. Leprosy, the flesh consuming disease, was the most dreaded disease of the era. Persons having it were quarantined by being ostracized. They were required if approached by a person to cry out “Unclean, unclean.” If the shadow of a leper touched a person they bathed seven times in a cleansing effort. This man had great cause for devotion to Christ.

Dr. Richard Clark Cabbot and his staff at the Mayo Clinc after years of observation concluded four things contribute to good health. They are WORK, PLAY, LOVE, AND WORSHIP. All four of these were involved at the party at which Jesus was celebrating.

Lazarus loved Him for healing him; Martha was working; Mary in worship. All three were engaged in play by attending the party.

The American Medical Association estimates one-half of the people in hospitals are there because of an ailment the body caught from the brain. They need to engage in these four things.

LAZARUS the credential of creditability, never more alive and well, is at the table with Jesus. Just hours before this Christ had brought him back from the dead. For four days his lifeless body had been in the cold tomb.

His resurrection confirms life beyond the grave.

In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. The Scriptural teaching regarding the bodily resurrection evidently influenced his thoughts. I marveled to note his grave stone:
The body of B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its contents torn out,
And stript of its Letting and Guilding
Lies here, food for Worms,
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believed,
Appear once more
In a new and more perfect Edition,
Corrected and amended by the Author.

These two were trophies of Christ’s triumph, one He healed the other He resurrected.

MARY AND MARTHA the spirited sisters are there.

Martha is in her customary place of service.

Mary is again the attentive one.

THE CROWD. As was the custom in those days, people came to homes where there was a notable guest just to see the celebrity. They came to see Jesus and Lazarus because of Lazarus’ new life.

The gospel uses a significant word to refer to the religious leaders of the day. Anytime the term “the Jews” appears it does not refer to the general population but to the religious leaders of the day. Their motive for being there was not a pure one. They came wanting to put Lazarus to death (Vs. 10). As long as he lived the story of his new life from death would spread.

Many pilgrims to the Passover wanted to see Lazarus. Word of him as a “living sign” raced through the crowd. Lazarus was on the “hit list” of the religious leaders. This in part is why Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not write of the resurrection of Lazarus. It would have only incited the religious leaders more and further endangered the lives of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. John wrote after their death, and it offered them no threat.

Because of Lazarus “many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus” (Vs. 11). The Greek use of the imperfect tense indicates there was a continuing growing number of defections from the Sanhedrin. This is confirmed in Acts 6:7: “…and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

Lazarus, new life also attracted people to Christ. We, too, by our changed life must attract persons to Him.

In attempting to attract persons to Christ you are doing them the greatest of favors. You are not only endeavoring to introduce them to eternal life, but to the abundant life here and now. We will never exhaust the meaning of the statement by Christ: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Current research reveals some of the present tense blessing inherent in knowing Christ.

Many studies have shown that religious belief can prevent many problems within families and society in general. For example, frequent U.S. churchgoers are about 50% less likely to suffer psychological problems, 50% less likely to get a divorce, and 71% less likely to become an alcoholic than the general public.1

According to a Gallup Poll the number of American families who say religion is playing a more important role in their lives climbed by 40% from November 1992 to December 1995.

There is also growing evidence of links between spirituality and good health. A recent survey finds that 79% of American adults believe that strong spiritual faith can help people recover from illness or injury, and 56% say their faith has helped them in their own recovery.

Researchers further note associated revelations.

There is a rise in church attendance. In 1995, 42% attended services, compared to only 37 in 1940. Paralleling this are some significant decreases.

The divorce rate fell to 4.6 per 1000 Americans in 1994. That is the lowest rate since 1973.

The teenage birth rate declined for the fourth straight year in 1995. The birth rate for unmarried women dropped for the first time in 20 years.

According to the FBI the number of murders and other violent crimes in large U.S. cities dropped by 8% in 1995.

Three of these characters reveal various aspects of the Christian life.

LAZARUS, witnessed – MARTHA, served – MARY, worshiped

Mary broke the alabaster bottle. The Holy Spirit led her to give her best to Christ. She poured it on Christ’s head as well as His feet according to combined Bible facts. A woman’s hair is her glory. She wiped His feet with her hair thus giving Him the glory.

Mary’s aromatic ointment, called Spikenard, was a rare import from India. Its value was equivalent to a years wages. By contrast, Jesus had told a story of a widow giving the smallest coin of the day, a mite, and her giving also lives as a memorial.

It is not who gives most that gives best, but who gives his or her best.

Three times Mary is depicted at Jesus feet.

1) She “sat at His feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39).

A young man heard an older man speak of the grace of God in a wonderful and insightful manner. After the service he ask the speaker where he learned such truths. He said at “Mary’s College.” “Mary’s College, where is that?” asked the young man. “Look it up in Luke 10: 39,” replied the sage. He had learned by sitting at the feet of Jesus as we do every time we read the Scripture.

2) Mary “fell at His feet” in distress at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:32).

3) Now she knelt at His feet (John 12:32).

Judas spoke his first recorded words: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:5). His question was not prompted because of his concern for the poor, but because he was a selfish thief.

This carping question by Judas is an example of how unproductive people try to devalue good actions. When a deed is done, they don’t condemn it outright; they just say a better one should have been done instead. Persons who do good must expect their motives to be questioned, and their deeds looked upon with suspicion.

In ancient Jewish thought preparation for death was considered a greater “good work” than giving to the poor. Judas and everyone else there knew this.

The devil was soon to lead him to do his worst.

According to verse 7 there obviously was some ointment remaining. Jesus further denounced the attitude of Judas by saying, “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial’” (John 12:7).

Then Jesus added: “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (John 12:8).

By this He meant there are some things you can do at any time, but there are other things which can only be done once. She gave what she had when she had the opportunity.

This passage also reveals that spiritual needs also take precedent over social welfare needs. Both are legitimate, but we must establish our priorities. She gave what she could.

By contrast Judas also sensed the growing evidence the end was near and he went to negotiate for 30 pieces of silver. He wanted to get what he could.

Mary. She gave ointment worth 300 pieces of silver. That translates into a years salary. She seemed to comprehend the fact of the end and gave Him what she had. Others waited.

Her act of devotion was normally reserved for a member of royalty.

Judas went immediately and negotiated for 30 pieces of silver. He, too, seemed to sense the finale and evidenced an attitude of getting what he could.

Jesus reprimanded the disciples for rebuking her. Other gospels let us know they had joined the dispute (Mark 14:4). Jesus said “…let her alone…” Mary is spoken of as blessed. Judas is spoken of as though it were better that he had not been born.

C.S. Lewis in the “Great Divorce” notes,”There are two kinds of people. Those who in time say to Christ, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom Christ shall say in eternity, ‘Thy will be done.'”

1Is Progress Speeding Up, John Marks Templeton, (Summary p. 13).