A Meal to Reveal the Heart
|John 12 (NKJV™)|
|1||Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.|
|2||There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.|
|3||Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.|
|4||Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said,|
|5||"Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"|
|6||This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.|
|7||But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.|
|8||"For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always."|
|9||Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.|
|10||But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,|
|11||because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.
Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.
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Your physical heart weights a pound or a little less, but it pumps 100,000 times a day--pushing 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of arteries, capillaries, and veins. The Bible speaks about the heart as the core or center of being. The heart is where you decide, desire, and deliberate: It is the core of your being. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
According to the Bible, your heart is affected by the fall of mankind: ""The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT) Whether young or old, rich or poor, the same truth applies: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23). Some live their whole lives with a heart unchanged, unchallenged, unaltered: unsaved. Others meet Christ and He changes them from the inside out.
When we step into this scene at Bethany, we see some familiar faces: Jesus, Lazarus, Martha, Mary, the disciples. This occurs one week before His death on the cross. If we could step into their hearts, we would find different motives: good, bad, grateful, greedy, loving, and angry.
The irreducible minimum: it is impossible to be neutral concerning Jesus Christ. "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad" (Matthew 12:30). The stand you take determines your own destiny, not His! Peter stated: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Your heart can be Christ's Home! (My Heart—Christ's Home by Robert Boyd Munger).
Greek terms: κλέπτης kleptēs a thief who steals by stealth with a careful plan
Figures Referenced: J. C. Ryle
Publications Reference: My Heart—Christ's Home, by Robert Boyd Munger
Cross References: Deuteronomy 15:11; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 7:3; Matthew 12:30; Mark 14:3; Luke 10:38-39; John 11:32; John 11:50; John 12:3; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 12:5-6
Well, you've been waiting for it. Ready? Turn to John Chapter 12. This is week 49 of our Gospel of John series and finally we made it into Chapter 12.
Let's pray together. Lord in heaven, we thank you that you've afforded us the opportunity to not skim but to dig deep into your word, word by word and phrase by phrase and character by character that we can really not only examine but to digest internally the things that we're reading in the Gospel of John. What a faithful witness that man was and thank you for the record that you left us, the stories that are told and the application, the timeless truths that apply to our daily lives.
We have come here, Father, as an act of worship to say that on this day, the first day of the week, the Lord's Day that our entire week belongs to you and we want to start the week off the right way by gathering together and getting primed and prepped by the word of eternal life for our life. So we pray that you teach us, instruct us and we'll be quick to make that our own truth and apply it in Jesus' name, amen.
I'd like to talk to you this morning about your heart, your physical heart. Your real heart is an amazing organ. It weighs about a pound or a little less. It's an amazing workhorse. It pumps 100,000 times everyday and it pushes 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of arteries and capillaries and veins. That's your physical heart. But as a figure of speech, the Bible speaks about the heart of men and women as the very core of their being, the very center of their being. It's the place where you decide and desire and deliberate. We even speak about the heart of the matter or "I love you with all my heart." We use the same metaphors they did in the Bible. It is that heart, that core of your being that I want to talk about today.
The Bible says, "You are to keep your heart with all diligence for out of it precedes the very issues of life." And according to the Bible, it's that core, that center of your being and mine that was affected by the fall of mankind back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. So that now, Jeremiah sums it up in one sentence, "The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked who really knows how bad it is." Well, the answer to that is God knows how bad it is and in this paragraph, God shows how bad it is. He deals with hearts in the first paragraph of John Chapter 12.
I heard a story about a woman who was looking for a parking place in a mall; it was around Christmastime. She was in her Mercedes. She was an elderly gal and she was pulling around the corner of the parking lot. All the places were taken but she saw a man walking out of the store with packages in hand and she thought she would just sort of wait until he got to his car, which he did. He put the packages in, he got in the car and he pulled out. She had been waiting the whole time. And as the man pulled out and went away, before she could maneuver her car in, a young man, a young kid in a shiny Corvette swiped her space, pulled in and parked. Well, she was livid and she rolled down the window and she said, "Hey, I've been waiting for this space for some time." And he just smiled, grabbed his keys in hand and said, "Well, that's how it is when you're young and quick." Well, before he can walk away, she grimaced in her face and she floored it and her Mercedes just jammed right into the right rear fender of that shiny new Corvette. Of course, this kid was livid again and he said, "You can't do that." She smiled and said, "That's how it is when you're old and rich."
Whether you're young or old, rich or poor, the same truth applies "All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God."
Some people live there whole lives with their hearts unchanged, unchallenged, unaltered, unsaved. Others meet Christ and when they do, they discover that he changes from the inside out, from the heart out. If we were to step into the house at Bethany where this setting takes place, if we were to step into that dinner scene we're about to read about, we would discover familiar faces around the table. There would be Jesus; he's the guest of honor. There would be Lazarus; he's back from the dead and eating a meal. There's Martha and Mary, the sisters. There are the disciples following Jesus. It's one week before his death on the cross. And then outside will gather a crowd of people who are just really interested in what has happened with Lazarus and Jesus. That's if you could step into the house. Now, if you could step into the hearts of all of the people that I just mentioned, you would find different things, different motives, some good, some bad, some grateful hearts, some greedy hearts, some loving hearts, some angry hearts opposed to Christ, all of them at the same meal. This then is a meal to reveal the heart.
Let's begin in Verse 1. "Then six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus who had been dead, whom he had raised from the dead, there they made him a supper and Martha served but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with them. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil."
"One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son who would betray him said, 'Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?'" This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and had the moneybox and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of my burial. For the poor you have with you always but me you do not always have." Now, a great many of the Jews knew that he was there. They came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priest plotted to put Lazarus to death also because on account of him, many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
This is a meal to reveal the heart. There are four dynamics going on at this meal. They are mentioned and written in your worship folders. There is diverse relationship. There is dangerous discipleship. There is divine stewardship and there is diabolical censorship. Those are the dynamics and all four of them reveal the various hearts of the people that have gathered.
Let's take them one by one. First of all, there are diverse relationships. That is there are people who loved Christ, they're gathered around the table, they're so thankful and they're loving Jesus in their own unique individual manner, their own personal relationship. We're not told here but there are two other Gospel accounts, Matthew and Mark, and one them tells us that the house that this meal took place was not the house of Lazarus. This text doesn't say which house, but in Mark, it tells us it was the house of a man named Simon the Leper. It's all what we're told.
Now, I'm going to put a few things together. Given the fact that lepers don't eat meals in homes with people unless they're healed because of the contagion that would spread and given the fact that they were ostracized from society 2000 years ago, I'm going to guess that this was a guy who was an ex-leper and his leprosy was cured somewhere along the line by Jesus. It was at his house. Why? Maybe it was a bigger house. There's a lot of people, at least 17 that I can count at this meal. Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Simon, Jesus, and his 12 disciples. That's at least. You're probably picturing that they sat around the table in chairs and had knives and forks. That's because that's what we do.
Two thousand years ago in Israel, they didn't do that at all. They reclined at a meal. It's a cool way to eat, honestly. I've done it when I've been in the Middle East. You lean on one side on a pillow around a low table called a triclinium, a U-shaped table. You're leaning on one side so that one hand is free. Your feet are to the side and toward the back and everybody leisurely would recline around that meal.
I want you to notice three people, first of all. All loved the Lord. First is Lazarus; he sat. Second is Martha; she served, not surprised. And there's Mary, she pours out this ointment. Let's consider Lazarus, first of all. Here's what's interesting about Lazarus. Never once does the Bible record a single word he spoke. Now, we know he talked. He was one of Jesus' friends but no word of Lazarus is recorded in the Bible. And once again, he's here. They're having probably a great meal, great conversation, but not a word is recorded. And yet Lazarus is a witness; he's a witness. All he has to do is sit there and eat and he's a witness because Verse 9 says there's a bunch of people that gathered just to see Lazarus because he was this living testimony of the power of Jesus to resurrection.
Can you imagine the conversation around that table? I'm going to guess. Simon says, "You know, Lazarus, it was a real drag being a leper. They've kicked me out of society, scabs grew on my body, I couldn't see my family. I was put away. I was smelly. I lost feeling in my fingers and my toes. Some of them began to fall off over time and I didn't know it because I lost feeling. My hair fell out, eyebrows fell out, and then one day Jesus touched me. I reached up and I could feel my eyebrows. My fingers came back; I had feeling in them. I was totally cured. It was awesome. Man, it was awesome."
And then Lazarus could have said, "Well, that's cool but I was dead." That sort of takes the cake on that one. "And I was four days in a tomb and I got to tell you, I was in paradise, my spirit. I saw Abraham and David, and then suddenly I was brought back. And I stood in front of the tomb I was buried in and the first person I saw as they unwrapped me was Jesus who raised me from the dead." I'm just guessing. Good food, good fellowship, good friends, Jesus loved to eat we're told in the Bible. That's Lazarus.
Second, you'll notice it says that Mary served; she served. Now please, don't fault Mary for doing this. I read a lot of commentators and hear a lot of preachers and even people faulting Mary for always being on her feet and always serving and always busy. Listen, that's what see loved to do. To put on a modern vernacular, this was her love language. She liked to serve, she loved to cook. I can just imagine that the night before, she pulled out her best recipes and prepared meals in advance so that on that day, she could bring meal after meal, course after course in a meal and Jesus loved every one of them.
Stop here. Let's compare something. Let's compare this story with the very first time we read about Martha and this is where she gets the bad rep from. Let's compare these two events, these two dinners. Go back one book to Luke. Let's take a look at Luke Chapter 10. Yeah, I know. Luke Chapter 10, turn back. What a great sound, the Bible pages. Luke 10 Verse 38, "Now it happened as they went that he entered a certain village and a certain woman named Martha welcomed him, Jesus, into her house." This is some months earlier; it's at Lazarus' house, Martha and Mary's house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard his word. But Martha was distracted with much serving. She approached him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me." Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things but one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her."
Compare what we just read with where we're at in John Chapter 12. In those months, something happened. I'm guessing the resurrection of Lazarus. I'm guessing all the lessons she learned from point A to point B, but clearly she's changed in John Chapter 12. She is not the same woman. First of all, she's not complaining and she's cooking for at least 17 people now. You got to give her that. She's not complaining. Jesus is not rebuking. She is still serving but now with a whole different attitude, an attitude of gratitude. Love is in her heart. She's expressing her worship through her work, through her service. I think that's important. If you cook, if you do laundry, if you fix tires during the week, if you work at a desk job, all of those activities can became activities of worship if you have the right attitude, if you're not complaining and if it's for the Lord and I'm doing this unto the Lord. That can be a form of worship. That's part of your relationship with him.
I love the sign that one creative woman puts above her kitchen sink that reads, "Divine service rendered here three times daily." She saw the meals that she cooks for her family as part of her worship for the Lord. So we have Lazarus, we have Martha, now we have Mary. Mary bust out the perfume. She probably thought, "Man, I want to honor Jesus. I want to show him how much I love him and how grateful I am that he raised my brother from the dead. And I've had this perfume; it costs a lot. I'll get to that in a moment. I don't care how much it costs. I'm going to break it out and I want to use it on him." So she pulls out the perfume. It's called oil of spikenard. Let me explain what that is.
Oil of spikenard came from Northern India. It was shipped 2,000 years ago in little alabaster boxes, sealed in flasks or boxes. The plant, spikenard, was a plant that shoots out fibrous roots about 3 to 12 inches in length. Once the plant is rooted, it then shoots out between 30 and 40 spikes out of the root that pierce the ground. And so, when you're walking along, you see these little spikes. The spikes penetrated and extracted from those spikes is a sweet, spicy, musty kind of an oil that was used typically by the wealthy for baths and for burial to mitigate against the smell that would be in the first few days. Now, it's costly. According to Judas, it could have been sold for 300 denarii. Now, 300 denarii was what a typical laborer earned in a year.
So let's just throw a figure at it for the sake of argument, $10,000. This could have been sold for $10,000 and the money given to the poor. She broke it out, she pours it on Jesus' feet, she wipes Jesus feet with her hair. That was her gift. That was her relationship. That's what she did, not Martha. Martha's worship was perspiration, work. Mary was perfume; she's into that stuff. Martha could probably care less about perfume. It was work, service, labor; that's fine. It's valid. Both are valid. Both are valid and both honor Christ. So you got three people with three unique individual relationships with Christ, all which are beautiful and valid.
Here's my point. Let's allow for the differences that exist between one Christian and another Christian, between one group and another group in their relationship with Christ. Let's not be so narrow in our thinking. So what do you mean narrow? Well, church leaders can sometimes be narrow. Sometimes church leaders can have conversations and it's sort of like, "Oh yeah, they now go to that other church but this is really the real church. And if they were real believers with real spiritual desires, they would be here."
There's a good Greek word for that -- hogwash. It's nonsense; it's too narrow. That narrowness also comes up within individual churches among individual members who are involved in a particular kind of a ministry. It might be the prayer ministry or the helps ministry or that group or this group. And all of them would love to see more people involved in their group. And they might think or even say, "Boy, wouldn't it be great if there were other spiritual people like us who thought the same way we do, who can do the same work that we do and do it as unto the Lord this way?"
We got to be careful against that. Last time I checked, God loves variety. Listen to what Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 12:5-6. There are different kinds of service in the church but it's the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways that God works in our lives but it's the same God who does the work through all of us.
So can't we allow the individual relationships based upon the individual persons with God as long it's biblically based, they are not violating the scripture, it's a true relationship? Why do we think that once we see people saved, we have to stick it in a mold? It says "This is the version of the Bible you must now read." "This is the music you must now listen to, and this beat of music you must now listen to." "These are the clothes and the appropriate attire you must now wear."
You probably heard of that clever, cute little legend about all the tools and Jesus' carpentry shop having a convention one day, and it was presided over by Brother Hammer. And this Brother Hammer began to noisily share his view. The other tools protested saying that Brother Hammer needed to leave because he was too noisy. And Brother Hammer said, "Well, if I have to leave, then Brother Screw also has to leave because you got to turn him around and around to get him to do anything." Brother Screw then took on bridge to that and he said, "Well, if you want me to leave, then Brother Plane also has to be kicked out of this meeting because -- well, look at him, he has no depth. All of his work is surface work." And Brother Plane piped up and said, "Well, you want me to leave, then Brother Rule also has to leave because he's always measuring everything and everyone by his own standard. He thinks he's the only one right." Brother Rule spoke and he said, "Well, okay. But if you want me to leave, you got to kick out Brother Sandpaper because he's so rough and he rubs people the wrong way."
As they were arguing, in walked the carpenter of Nazareth, Jesus, to build a pulpit of wood from which to preach and he employed the hammer, the screw, the plane, the rule, and the sandpaper, all of the tools together to make this singular work of ministry. So we have three hearts. They are grateful hearts. They are unique in their relationship to Christ, and so we have that first dynamic, diverse relationship.
Here is the second, dangerous discipleship. Now, everything is good so far. And then Judas speaks and ruins the whole perfect scene, Verse 4. One of his disciples noticed that Judas Iscariot, Simon's son who would betray him said, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?" John gives us the rest of the story in Verse 6. This he said not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief. The word is "klepto". It means somebody who steals by a carefully thought out and devised plan in advance. He had this all thought out. He was a thief and had the money box and used to take what was put in it.
Now, chronologically in the flow of time, these are the first words Judas speaks in the New Testament. And on the surface, they sound pretty good. Just a couple of notes about Judas, a little profile. Judas was the only disciple that we know of not from Galilee. He was Judas Iscariot, which means he was from the town of Kerioth which was down in Judea, not up north. So he was from the lower regions around Jerusalem, that area. In the New Testament, the gospel writers, whenever they mention Judas always mention two things about him. Number one, he was a disciple. And number two, he was a traitor; he betrayed Christ. So heinous was that crime that forever that would be mentioned whenever Judas' name would be mentioned.
By the way, if you were to look up the word "Judas" in a dictionary, you'd discover it's a synonym for treachery. A person can be called a Judas if he is a traitor in a friendship. It's entered the human language as a metaphor, a synonym for treachery. That's why you'll never find parents naming their children Judas. Can you think of one? "Here's my son, Judas." That is never going to go over well. You'll pick lots of other Biblical names and you'll leave that one out.
Well, his remark as I mentioned sounds so noble. It sounds like, "Why, this is the guy you want around." This is the guy who says, "No, I just want to save us a little bit of money here. I'm all about doing that." But he was a dangerous disciple and John tells us why. He was thief. Now, here's Judas who misinterprets a gift. Please understand this. He sees an extravagant -- or I should say lavish gift as an extravagant waste. Judas has a bitter view of life because Judas has a bitter heart. Judas has a bitter view of life because Judas has a bitter heart. What a man sees with his eyes depend on what is going on inside that man's heart. You know what it's like.
If you like somebody, they can do no wrong. If you don't like someone even if they do right, every little action they do is misinterpreted by you as some ulterior motive, something else is going on. They're doing it for another reason. That's a bitter heart.
J.C. Ryle, a commentator, writes that anyone could follow Christ as a disciple for three years, see all of his miracles, hear all of his teaching, receive at his hand repeated kindnesses and be counted as an apostle. And yet prove rotten in the heart in the end all of this at first sight appears incredible and impossible. Yet the case of Judas shows plainly that this can be.
Few things perhaps are so little realized as the extent of the fall of men. This is dangerous discipleship, and dangerous discipleship is when you try to follow Christ critically and hypocritically -- critical to people, hypocritically before God. Judas had a good mouth and a bad heart. He said the right things and people go, "Wow! That's good. He is trying to save us some money." Ulterior motive, he had a bad heart, didn't care for the poor. He was a thief. Judas is a great illustration of something Jesus said in his sermon on the mountain. You'll recognize it; I'll paraphrase it. Jesus said, "So why do you care so much about the speck in your brother's eye when you've got a telephone pole hanging out of your eye?" That's a paraphrase. You're so worried about other people's problems when you've got bigger problems of your own. Here's Judas that's so narrow, so critical, so harsh toward others -- critical, hypocritical before God.
My brother's a golf pro out in Palm Springs and he tries to help me every chance he gets, to no avail, but he tries to help. And he told me to get bigger clubs, bigger drivers, and this is what he said. He goes, "Skip, the new drivers, the new clubs today," his words, "are more forgiving." I like that term, "more forgiving". "Well, explain what you mean." He goes, "Well, they're bigger so it is harder to miss." And because they're big and hollow, he says they have a bigger sweet spot. That means you can hit the ball toward the heel or the toe of the club and still have a reasonable chance of getting a decent shot, so he's trying to help me once again.
More forgiving, bigger sweet spot, isn't that a great way to describe a Christian? Their heart is so large they have such a big sweet spot, they are more forgiving. Some people who name the name of Christ, their sweet spot is so small it's indiscernible. It's not enlarged. They're not forgiving. That's Judas. He jumped to conclusions.
Whenever you jump to conclusions, you're sure to have a bad landing. He does, which brings us to the next dynamic and that is divine stewardship. Jesus now weighs in on the matter, Verse 7. Jesus said, "Let her alone." Now, those are good words to a critical person. You now have scriptural precedent, the words of Jesus himself. Leave here alone, bug off, go away, let it go. First thing he says to Judas, "Let her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial for the poor you have with you always but me you do not have always." First thing he does is affirm Mary.
And as it turns out, Mary won't be able to anoint Jesus' body after he dies. In fact, the women who will come to the tomb early on resurrection morning will come with spices to anoint the body, they'll discover Jesus already is out of the tomb. He was resurrected.
So Jesus says, "She is doing this and she saved this for my burial." This is what he means. "Judas, this is not a lavish or extravagant waste; this is a living prophecy. Mary knows something that has escaped everybody else around here's knowledge and view, and that is that I am going to die and be buried." I want you to think about that. It seems that Mary knew that Jesus was going to die and I say that that's not worthy because even the disciples didn't get that, although Christ told them plainly on a couple occasions and the last time he told them was on the way up to Bethany. He's going up from Jericho, the other accounts tell us, and he tells his disciples, "Boys, I'm going to Jerusalem. I'm going to be arrested. I'm going to be beaten. They're going to kill me. I'm going to be buried and on the third day, I'm going to rise again from the dead." They didn't get it. It's like here are the disciples and here is what Jesus said. It just sort of completely went over their head. He said it a couple of times and, "Oh, cool." They didn't get it. She understood it. The question is, why and how did Mary understand it when some others so close did not?
Well, here's perhaps the secret. Where do we always find Mary when we discover her on the pages of the scripture? At the feet of Jesus, all three occasions, the first time at the feet of Jesus, Luke Chapter 10. The second time at the funeral of Lazarus, down at Jesus' feet, grieving but at the feet nonetheless. Here, washing Jesus' feet, wiping them with her hair. When you're at the feet of Jesus and you observe and you listen and you study everything he says, there is that special connection where you understand his plan and his will.
You say, "Okay. Well, that's cool, Skip. But Jesus is gone physically. I can't sit at Jesus' feet today." But did you know it's a Hebrew idiom? To sit at somebody's feet means to learn from that person, to be the disciple, to listen to the words. When you study the Bible and you make that a daily activity where you're studying, you're reading, you're taking it in, you're sitting at Jesus' feet and you will learn his ways and learn his will.
We're used to seeing, or some of us years ago, this little homespun hem -- simple words. If you want to know the power of God, get down at Jesus' feet. If you want to know the love of God, get down at Jesus' feet. If you want to know the truth of God, get down at Jesus' feet, get down sinner, get down saint, get down at Jesus' feet. That's where Mary abode at the feet of Jesus.
So Christ affirmed Mary. "She's kept this for the day of my burial." And notice also he rebukes Judas, "For the poor you have with you always but me you do not have always." What does that mean? Is he endorsing poverty? Is he endorsing apathy toward those who are in poverty? No. First of all, he's quoting a scripture. Deuteronomy 15 says, "There will always be some among you who are poor; therefore, freely share." In other words, you'll have an opportunity all the time, so always be open to share because of the poverty that exists in this world. What Christ is doing to Judas is setting forth a divine stewardship. You say you got to keep you priorities. Here is the principle, if I may paraphrase. There will always be opportunities for generous activity but you have got to seize the opportunities for personal intimacy with God.
There's always going to be opportunity for generous activity helping the poor, but you've got to seize those opportunities for personal intimacy. There's a principle. Just as Jesus was only going to be alive before his death and burial one week, Mary knew he was going to the cross. Mary takes care of this, sort of giving the roses before the funeral instead of bringing them to the family afterwards, showing Jesus her love. Likewise, we also have very unique opportunities only afforded us in this life. We've got to seize those opportunities. While we're on this side of heaven, this is the time to write checks and give money to God's work and share our valuable possessions to get the gospel out. This is the opportunity we have to help people who are struggling get into heaven by sharing the gospel with them. So as you evaluate your life and I evaluate my life, what a value do we have that we can give to Christ for his honor and glory now.
Three so far, three dynamics that we have seen; let's close with a fourth. There's diabolical censorship, last two verses, "Now a great many of the Jews knew that he was there and they came not for Jesus' sake only but that they might also see Lazarus whom he'd raised from the dead." This was big news. When was the last time a dead guy got up in your neighborhood? And so, just them coming to Bethany unannounced, a few people seeing it here and there spread the news around. Now, a crowd has gathered. The camera pans to the outside of the house. They're eating and there's this group that's gathered around looking in the windows, "Check it out, dude. There's Lazarus eating a falafel. He's alive! I heard about this but he is alive! There is the evidence." And then we're told that the chief priest plotted to put Lazarus to death also because on account of him, many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. You see how diabolical and sinister this is? Remember how Caiaphas last time -- remember -- just rewind the tape a bit.
Caiaphas announced to the council it's expedient that one man should die for the nation and not the whole nation perish. Well, now it seems that you need to have two men die because the greatest piece of evidence to the power of Christ that's causing all these people to believe is the dead guy who's now eating the falafels. He's the evidence. And so, if you don't accept the evidence, you got to get rid of it. That's what they tried to do. So there you have all of those various hearts at one meal -- Lazarus, Martha, Mary, Judas, the indifferent crowd just sort of scoping it out and the chief priest who so hate Jesus that they want to even destroy the evidence of a changed life.
If I were to put all of what we've just read, this study of hearts down to one irreducible minimum, one bottom line I would say this, it's impossible to be neutral concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus said "You were either for me or you're against me." You help gather or you help scatter. And today, you might love him, you might serve him like Martha or Mary. You've got your own relationship but it's real, it's dynamic, or you might be like the crowd looking in the window, indifferent, or like Judas and the chief priest who hate Christ and abhor him.
But somewhere along the line, you will make a decision regarding him. You must make a stand about this one and it's the stand that you take that will determine not his destiny but yours. Peter was also at the meal. In Acts Chapter 4, he will announce to this city of Jerusalem "For there is no other name given among men under heaven by which we must be saved except for the name of Jesus."
So how is your heart? The Bible says, "Keep you heart with all diligence, out of it precedes the very issues of life." That's your core; that's the center of who you are, the authentic you. Where is it with the Lord?
Back in 1954 before I was born, Robert Boyd Munger wrote a little booklet, a little tract booklet and it was entitled "My Heart Christ's Home". I don't have time to really tell you about it or read it to you. But just think of that thought, My Heart Christ's Home. What a possibility. If I were to invite Jesus Christ personally into my heart, into my life, if you were to reside and abide as his home into my life, how would I be different? And how would others around me be different? My sin forgiven, a new purpose and a new passion put into my life, awesome thought. Let's pray for that.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are the revealer of all hearts. You reveal to us when we take time to listen what our true motives are as we examine them before you. Moreover, your word tells us there is nothing hidden from his sight. All things are naked and open before the eyes of the one with whom we have to give an account.
You know our hearts. More than that, you had a plan that you enacted to take care of the problem of our simple hearts. We know it's redemption. To the person of your son, the Lord Jesus Christ who have stepped onto this planet and offer himself through a horrible death as the atoning sacrifice once and for all time so that anyone who would trust in him would have everlasting life. It's a wonderful plan, it's a wonderful escape. Lord, I would pray for everyone who is listening to this message. As we realize that you know us, you've searched us, you know when we sit down and rise up, you know what we think before we think it, in short, you know our heart. You know if our hearts have been surrendered to you, if our lives are lived for you or not, and I pray as we examine them that we would make a choice to do so in Jesus' name, amen.