Although people were created to enjoy intimacy with God, we continually chose to value other goals, pursuits, and possessions as more beautiful and worthwhile than knowing God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must battle a persistent root of self-centeredness is always drawing us toward self-aggrandizement over worship of God. We must worship God as He deserves to be worshipped!
Series: Redefining Greatness Passage: John 12:1-11
The focus of our worship always demands our close proximity to it (vv. 1-3).
The focus of our worship determines our commitment to it (v. 3).
The focus of our worship determines how we will react to it (vv. 4-8).
What is true worship of Christ?
- A response to the revelation of God in our life.
- A lifestyle that values intimacy with God over everything else.
- An eternal impact is had where we worship an eternal God, who will reward us proportionately with His presence.
This week I will…
- Pray and ask God to search me and give me courage to repent of anything keeping me from worshiping Him.
- Read John 12 in its entirety at least once.
- Read Psalm 139 and take in the reality that God knows me completely.
- Identify at least one thing I love more than Christ and ask God to help me keep that in balanced perspective with who He is/should be to me.
Let me ask you, for what or whom are you willing to display extravagant affection or allegiance? You may not be much of a sports fan and you wouldn’t dare wear someone else’s name on your back. However, every one of us have something that we are crazy about. It could be any one of the good gifts God has given us — our family, food, vacation in Maui — the good things God has given us make it easy for us to often forget the “giver” and get wrapped up in the “gift.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims that worshipping Jesus is not simply worthwhile, in the way learning a new sport or helping your elderly neighbors connect to cable is worthwhile. Rather, worshipping Jesus is the only way to live in accordance with spiritual reality. The Gospel of John makes it clear that because Jesus is who He says He is— the Light of the World, the Living Water, the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, and the Lamb of God—He deserves our worship.
[theme] Although people were created to enjoy intimacy with God, we continually chose to value other goals, pursuits, and possessions as more beautiful and worthwhile than knowing God. The human heart is veiled and unable to perceive the surpassing worth of Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Yet, through His power, we must battle a persistent root of self-centeredness is always drawing us toward self-aggrandizement over the worship of God. We must worship God as He deserves to be worshipped. This means we worship Him regardless of whether the world ridicules us of being Jesus fanatics.
We need to “Redefine Greatness”
Today we are starting a new series entitle, “Redefining Greatness.” The world tells us that greatness comes through accomplishments of our past and/or the praises of others. But the Bible says that greatness is neither of these things. Rather, greatness is found only in God and our accomplishments are nothing but filthy rags and the only one who deserved to be praised is God Himself. For the next five weeks we are going to undo what the world has told us is great and replace it with God’s definition of Greatness.We will start today by identify the center of all greatness: God Himself.
If God is the pinnacle of “Greatness” than we will begin to apply what that means for our affections and our actions in this life. I’ve entitled today’s message “Live a Lifestyle of Correct Responses.” My hope is that today you will leave here knowing that Jesus is worth everything we are and all we possess, including resources, time, status, and reputation. Worshipping Jesus is the greatest call, joy, and privilege of those who have truly beheld His beauty and glory. It demands that we respond correctly to His continual revelation in our life.
To that end—Let’s PRAY
Please open your Bible with me to John 12:1-11 on page 898. You can also follow along in the Grace Chapel app and take notes on the bulletin. If you don’t own a Bible or you know someone who needs one, you can take the one in front of you. You can also text in any questions during the message and I do my best to address those in the series or on social media throughout the week. Join me as we encounter God through His Word.
Overview of the chapter
The great miracle of Lazarus’ death is over, and the news is spreading quickly (vv. 9-11). Mary and Martha adore Jesus for what He had done for them, to the point of pouring expensive perfume on his feet (vv. 1-8). As Jesus is received by the crowds, the Jews are in more despair (vv.12-19). Jesus knows His hour is near and eventually the accepting crowd will reject and kill Him (vv. 20-36). If you were association with Jesus at this point, life was becoming more precarious (vv. 37-43). Everyone was forced to belief or not believe that He really is the Christ. In this chapter, as we head toward the Cross you will see that Jesus is presented clearly as the object of our faith. I believe that this means nothing should keep us from confessing Him as Lord, but you need to decide for yourself.
 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.  Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
The news of Lazarus coming back from the dead is still headlining. Though Jesus went south to avoid the popularity (negative and positive) he returned to Bethany on his way to Jerusalem for Passover. The Sanhedrin — as you will remember from the end of chapter 11 — were on the lookout for Jesus. It was impossible for Him to sneak around at this point, and sure enough, upon entering Bethany, the crowd mounted to pay their respects to Him.
The story of the meeting at this house in Bethany is told in all four of the Gospels. Each one places it in a slightly different place, at a slightly different time, with slightly different people. But the best we can tell, it is the same story for all four of the Gospels because the point is congruent—worship of Christ is extravagant.
We don’t know whose home it was, as the Greek is ambiguous, but we know that Martha was more than willing to serve the very one who raised her brother from the dead. And speaking of Him, Laz was loving life, reclining at the table with the one who resurrected Him. Without a doubt, it was a sweet time of laughter, fellowship, the best of food and drink and as comfortable of a setting as could be provided. But the moment that caught everyone’s attention was when Mary did something crazy.
Matthew and Mark say that she poured the perfume on Jesus head. Luke and John say it was his feet — whether it was a royal blessing on the head or a humble blessing of the feet, it was still stunning. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all specifically mention the woman brought the perfume in an alabaster jar or flask, but John focuses on the type of perfume she used, which John notes was “made of pure nard” — John even tell us that it was a point of ointment. [pound of ointment]
Though there are different details in each account, we do know that those who watched it happened could not comprehend the extravagance of what Mary did. In Luke’s gospel the Pharisees were shocked; in Matthew’s gospel, it was the disciples; in Mark’s it was the whole crowd. In John’s Gospel, we’re told it was specifically Judas who was shocked.
Set yourself in the scene: The smell of perfume filled the house (v. 3) and there is Mary with her stooped body, cascading hair, pouring out the oil and rubbing it on Jesus feet. Judas is angry as he sees handful after handful being placed on the soles of the Savior. No matter what Gospel you read this story in, Mary is always in the same place — at Jesus feet.
Pause the story for a minute—that begs a question for us; If we were there, where in the house would we have been? Productively, busy making the food? Socially, Yacking it up in the corner? Intellectually, asking questions of Lazarus about what it is like to be dead, only to fill our mind? Apathetically, would we have been there at all?
And for our life today: Are we productively, socially, intellectually or apathetically worshiping any other place than the feet of Jesus? The truth is that if we are worshiping anything other than Jesus, we are missing it. Jesus demands that we come close if we are going to worship Him.
But the truth is that the focus of our worship always demands our close proximity to it. If you worship sports, you will be as close as you can to the action. If you worship money, you will be as close as you can to making it. If you worship acceptance, you will be as close as you can to those who want to be accepted by. But if you worship Jesus, you will do whatever you have to do to be close to Him and Him alone.
True worshipers of Jesus don’t settle for off-brand objects of affection
Much to my chagrin, my wife buys off-brand everything whenever she can. I like to remind her that sometimes you really can tell the difference.” Like ketchup, for example. While it may be cheaper to buy off brand Ketchup, there is nothing like Hintz 57. On Monday, she sent me to the story for Ketchup. Yes, I saw the off brand was like $2.99 cheaper, but I was not going to do it. No way. There is nothing like the real thing. In the same way, half-hearted worship of God is like buying cheap off-brand imitations of brand-name items. It may buy you a shallow sense of belonging or satisfaction, but it won’t last long. It’s not the “real deal.”
The only way I can know something is off brand is because I love the real thing. The only way we can know our focus of worship is off is by seeing Christ as He really is and responding to His revelation with all that we all.
Not only does the focus of our worship demand us to be close, but if we are “all in” then it will demand our commitment as well. Write this down too: The focus of our worship determines our commitment to it.
We must note the reckless extravagance of Mary’s gift. It is both (1) costly in itself and (2) intimate in how it is given.
First—costly: It would have been valued today as worth $10,000-12,000 dollars. It was worth 300 denarii at the time, which was about 300 days of work — almost a year. Yet she didn’t hold it back, she poured it out.
Second—intimate:She took it and rubbed it on Jesus feet in front of everyone. This was a very intimate act that surely would have been judged by others.
Can we all agree, I am not Jesus? Okay, but imagine for a second that a woman came up here had took my shoes off and started massaging my feet with $10,000 worth of lotion. What do you think would happen? The elders would step in; Molly will kill her; Kyle Clark with make a story out of it. Why? Because that is a very intimate act — so it was in the first century, perhaps even more so.
Yet, Mary risked being judged as a floosy and did an intimate act. Washing feet like this was something only a slave would do. And if a person did it for another, it was to express love between two free persons, such as a husband and wife or a parent and child. She was expressing her love and adoration to Jesus: worship.
Mary’s commitment to worship was costly and could carless about what other’s thought of her. Why? Because the focus of her worship was Jesus. It was worth giving it all for, despite the expense or ridicule.
Let me ask you: How does the possibility of derision, ridicule, or worse affect our desire to worship Jesus? Probing a bit deeper, what attitudes do you have, or choices are you making that cultivate the self-centeredness of a thief rather than the extravagance of a worshipper?
Mary, a worshipper, is contrasted with Judas, a thief. Let’s read 4-8:
 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.  Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.  For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
We see two reactions here: Selfishness or Appropriateness. Judas’ wasn’t able to hide his motives; John calls them out in verse 6 for us, lest we mistake Judas as actually caring for the poor. His reaction to the worship of Jesus by Mary was (1) repulsion for her unhindered extravert worship and (2) a thought of self—what could I gain from this?
Let’s be certain: Worship to God that asks (even a little) what can I gain, is not true worship. There are far too many movements in the church today that focus on what the worshipper gets rather than what the worship once gets from us. Truth be told, The focus of our worship determines how we will react to it.If the object of our worship is ourselves, we will do whatever we have to do to get what we want as ours or keep what we think we deserve. Judas did exactly that.
Yet if Jesus is the object of our worship, we will react to it with total abandonment of self and embrace the moments we get to praise Him. Jesus gives a seemingly anti-social-justice answer saying, forget the poor, you will always have them—focus on me while you have me. He was saying, “If I am the object of your worship, you will prioritize me over every other thing, especially yourself, but even the service of others, and trust that I will care for all thing if I am correctly placed in your life.”
It is easy for us to even think that our “Service” is “worship” and while it is and there is a Greek word that could be used interchangeable, we must never mistake that our service to other people is the sole means of how we should express our worship to God. Worship can include service, but that is only part; True worship is a lifestyle of responding with all that we are to all that God is.
So, let’s be clear: What is true worship of Christ?
- A response to the revelation of God in our life. When we see Him and all his attributes and trust Him, we can help but to react with extravagant and unhindered worship to Him.
- A lifestyle that values intimacy with God over everything else. We live for the first and second commandment: Loving God more than anything and live to serve others because we have been so loved. Think of this in our culture:
Our culture exalts those who make extreme sacrifice to accomplish their goals. Every two years the media is ablaze with stories of Olympians’ relentless pursuit of the gold medal. Leading up to the Olympic games, however, these athletes have, for years, oriented their lives around training for this one competition. In the process they have made countless sacrifices of good things may of us enjoy daily (certain foods, leisure activities, extra sleep on a Saturday morning, etc.). They could do this because they are compelled by a vision of a reward, an experience that, if gained, would be worth all of the sacrifice. How much more such followers of Christ embrace the way of the cross, dying daily to ourselves, to gain the glory of knowing our Savior (cf. 1 Timothy 4:7-10).
An eternal impact is had where we worship an eternal God, who will reward us proportionately with His presence. What we do in worship in this life has eternal impact. I believe Jesus will demonstrate His favor on our worship in this life by the way he rewards us in the next. We will be rewarded for our generosity, faithfulness, love and sacrifice as a response to who God is in our life.
Most of us have an experience of a time in which we responded to a need, offered to volunteer, bought a gift, etc., and our efforts turned out to be either unnecessary, unhelpful, or unappreciated. The truth is that in most situations we cannot know what the return on our investment will be. In Christ, however, God has promised us great and lasting rewards. We are to live as those who “press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). We worship selflessly, not wondering what it will give us back but trust it will impact the heart of our King for all of eternity.
So when it comes to worship—are you Mary or Judas?
Are you focusing in Jesus and all that He is or are you preoccupied with yourself, what others think of you or what you hope to gain in that moment? Are you a worshipper or a thief?
The thief wants to kill and destroy Jesus reputation, directly or indirectly. Judas was indirectly killing Christ (as John even told us in Chapter 6) by his own selfishness and this would eventually lead to His demise. The Jewish leaders were directly trying to kill Jesus reputation by trying to get rid of him and any proof of him. Look at verse 9:
The Plot to Kill Lazarus
 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well,  because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
As many came to see Jesus is the messiah, the Jews grew with anger all the more. We’ll continue to see this story unfold in the weeks to come. But suffice it to say: Don’t be like Judas, don’t be like the Jewish leaders—be like Mary, always found at Jesus feet, worshiping without reservation.
Connect Card [next step slide]
Friends, this message is calling us to have a correct response to who Jesus in our life. “A Lifestyle of Correct Responses” it is calling us to respond, period. Can I ask you to take one of these connect card points and apply it? Who will do that this week? I will too and let’s pray for each other as we do.