Thursday, July 24, 2014
Giving all we have
We're continuing our study in John 12:1-11, and learning about truly extravagant love, and giving all that we have.
This kind of sacrificial love can be puzzling to some. Look again at verses 4-6.
I bet Judas thought he sounded really spiritual, don't you? "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?" I expect that he thought he sounded above reproach; he was all high-and-mighty and self-righteous about what Mary had done. Her extravagant and sacrificial gift was a total puzzle to him.
I bet if he knew just how hypocritical he sounded, he might have shushed.
Here is what John said about Judas:
"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 in it." (verse 6)
Ouch! That got right to the point, didn't it?
Well, the truth is, those who would be disgusted or put off by our sacrificial offerings are typically more "into" themselves than anything else. They just mask their disapproval in spiritual language. It's easy to see their hypocrisy.
Did you notice, too, what Judas did? Talk about damage! Mary's sacrifice had focused the attention of everyone in the house on the guest of honor, on our Lord Jesus. But Judas, in his hypocrisy and pride, deflected that attention. He turned it away from the Lord. He wasn't in love with Jesus -- he was in love with himself. "Is it good for me?" is where his thoughts ran. For thirty pieces of silver, Judas is going to betray Jesus . . . soon.
Even today, our offerings to God, motivated by our desire to give all that we have, will be puzzling to those who will gripe about it all. But we can't let that stop us! It's our aim to please Christ, not man.
And that brings us to our last point here: this kind of love is pleasing to Christ.
There is only one voice heard in favor of what Mary gave, and it was the only one that mattered. In Matthew 26, we read, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me." We can see that when we truly give to God, He knows it. Jesus emphasized that Mary's gift was for Him.
Nothing that we give to God will ever, ever go unnoticed by Him. Isn't that a comforting thought? Let's look at Hebrews 6:10:
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have
shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.
We give our gifts to God. He will never forget it. When He receives something from us that is precious to us, it is pleasing to Him. In Mark's gospel, he adds that Jesus also said this: "She did what she could." (Mark 14:8) The fragments of that jar were swept up. The fragrance of the oil has evaporated long years ago. But the memory of what Mary did will endure forever.
Think about the difference she made!
Phillip Keller (he wrote A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 and Lessons from a Sheep Dog) wrote this about her gift:
"The ....fragrance ran down over His shining hair. It enfolded His body with
its delightful aroma. Even his tunic and undergarment were drenched with
its enduring pungency. Wherever He moved during the ensuing days, the
perfume would go with Him. Into the Passover; into the Garden of Geth-
semane; into Herod's hall; into Pilate's patio; even into the cruel hands of
those who cast lots for His clothing."
With each prick of a thorn on His forehead, Mary's gift was remembered. With each crack of the hateful whip, her love was felt. With each impact of the hammer, driving in the nails, her offering was recalled.
Now, what does Christ expect of us? To do what we can. All we can. Regardless of criticism. All from a heart of love.
Oh, to be like Mary's alabaster jar -- broken and empty at His feet.
Ready for Him to put the pieces of our lives together, and to fill us with His Spirit!