Giving it all to Jesus | Passion Week
Giving it all to Jesus | Passion Week
Are we all really giving it all to Jesus?
Deuteronomy 2:7 “The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.”
When we look back on our lives, God sure has abundantly blessed every one of us. He has forgiven our sins and given us jobs, finances, healing, etc. Remember! As much as God blesses us, He is also concerned about how we utilize our blessings for Him. Are we grateful to him? Are we using God’s blessings for His glory? And now that God has blessed you, who do you love more – God or His blessings?
Here, we are going to look at an insignificant woman from the Bible who did her best in expressing her love for Jesus.
The scene is in Bethany, which is just a few miles away from Jerusalem. The time is the night before Jesus’ triumphal entry. The teachers of the law are scheming to arrest Jesus and kill him. Jesus knew the time had come. In just a few days He is going to be arrested, convicted, and crucified.
Mark 14:1-3 1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
In Bethany, Jesus goes to a party given in His honor by Simon, the Leper. He goes to enjoy good food, conversation, and the last visit with His friends before He goes into Jerusalem and gets crucified.
In Jesus’ time, people did not sit on the floor or on the dining chair to eat. Rather, they reclined on low couches using the left elbow to rest and the right hand to take their food. This made it easy and accessible for the anointing of the head and the feet. Jesus’ head was tilted to a side and the feet were at the back.
It was also customary for a few drops of perfume to be poured on the guests when they sat down for a meal.
So Jesus is reclining at the table along with His disciples. A woman who must have been a part of the crowd there is very overwhelmed with emotion. She takes an alabaster jar containing very expensive perfume, breaks the container and uses all of the precious perfume to anoint the head and feet of Jesus.
Though it sounds a bit traditional and customary, this is a self-sacrificial act of love. Listen! Most of the people who followed Jesus, came to Him for selfish motives. They came for their own benefits. Sick people came hoping that He would heal their sickness. The poor and hungry came because He had the reputation of having compassion and feeding them. The religious leaders followed Him because they wanted to trap Him by His words. Even the disciples who said they left everything, later wanted to be great in the kingdom that Jesus was talking about. Therefore, most of the people were there around Jesus because they wanted something, not because they loved Him.
There is no record of anyone ever coming to Jesus and saying, “Lord, I love you.” Of course after the resurrection, when Jesus asked, Peter said that he loved Him but remember, Jesus asked Peter. There is no record of anyone, anywhere in the Bible coming to Jesus and expressing their self-sacrificial love to Him other than the Mary of Bethany. She was so enthusiastic about doing this act of love.
Be Enthusiastic About God | About Jesus
Now, we’re not even sure who exactly the woman was. This incident is also mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew but the identity of this woman is not given there as well.
Some Biblical scholars point out that the alabaster jar contained expensive perfume, probably the kind commonly used by the ladies of the night – prostitutes who walked the streets. It was a tool of their trade, as they would douse themselves in it to make themselves more appealing. If that is true then this lady is probably Mary Magdalene, even though there is no concrete proof of it. She was the lady caught in adultery and was being stoned to death when Jesus saved her.
If it is Mary Magdalene, then this incident gives a deeper meaning for her act of love because it means that this woman took the most important thing of her trade, broke it and gave it to Jesus. In other words, she is telling Jesus through this incident, “With the same enthusiasm that I once gave to the sins of the world, I now give myself to You.”
Are you enthusiastic about God? Do you celebrate the goodness of God?, Are you giving it all to Jesus? Well, have you ever thought about the difference we would be making if we could become as enthusiastic for Jesus, as we have been enthusiastic about other things in the world?
I remember going to an exhibition on the palace ground. In one of the stalls, there was a big rush. We just peeped through the crowd to see what was happening, then we found a man peeling vegetables with a skin peeler. He said it was a Chinese vegetable peeler and that it can save a lot of time. He continued peeling the potatoes, carrots, and beetroots in no time.
Then He said, “This Chinese peeler comes with a blade and handles which will last you 10 years. Furthermore, You save 80% of your time peeling vegetables and this is a one day offer for just Rs. 300.” By the time he was through, a majority of the people bought the peeler; we also ended up buying one. However, I remember going the very next day to a supermarket in Kammanahalli and found the same peeler there for just Rs. 50.
Now, here is a salesman who is so enthusiastic about the greatness of a vegetable peeler, who did his sales smartly. Basically, giving it all. So are we giving it all to Jesus?
Have you ever thought about what revolution would take place if we were that enthusiastic about the things of God? If we were enthusiastic about the church, enthusiastic about Sunday worship, enthusiastic about prayer and devotion, enthusiastic about giving to God, what a difference it would make in the Kingdom? Well, that woman was enthusiastic for Jesus and she found a new way to express her love for God, and that is giving it all to Jesus.
Find a New Way To Express Your Love for Jesus
Lovers always find a new way to express their love and so, if you are enthusiastic about God, you will always find a new way to express your love for Him. Mary is so overwhelmed by the love for Jesus that she found a new way to express her love for God.
It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire had once captured a prince and his family from the neighboring territory in a war. During the trial, Cyrus asked the prince, “What will you give me if I release you?” “The half of my wealth,” was his reply. “What will you give me if I release your children?” “Everything I possess.” “And what will you give me if I release your wife?” “Your Majesty, I will give myself”, said the prince. Cyrus was so moved by the prince’s sacrificial love towards his wife that he set them all free. Therefore, this is the kind of sacrificial love that God expects from us.
Matthew 22:35-40 35 One Pharisee, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This law was fulfilled by Mary because she showed her love to God. This sacrificial act is equivalent to a person’s one years’ salary.
Some people present there began to criticize her immediately.
Mark 14:4-5 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
It was foolish for others, even for the disciples because they asked, “Why this waste?” Well, for Mary, it wasn’t a waste. It was love, worship, and reverence to God but for others, it was a waste. Well, certainly worshipping, praising and loving God is never a waste.
The only productive thing that we can ever do is to love, worship, praise God and giving it all to Jesus. Where do you think were the others? They were there but they did not want to do it. The teachers of the law were there, the disciples were there but they never anointed Jesus. For them, it was a waste. Whereas, it was a way of giving it all to Jesus.
What is waste?
In present-day terms, what is a waste? Waste is the church that comes week after week but is never moved by the Spirit of God.
Waste is the choir that sings and never feels the presence of God. They never worship but just sing through the process.
But when the church and the choir sing and the presence of God comes down, when you surrender, when you give it all to Jesus, it is productive. It is never a wasted Sunday. When you worship God like that, you break the bottle; the aroma of worship fills the place, and Jesus receives our worship. Mary indeed sacrificially expressed her love, giving it all to Jesus and Jesus received her love.
Now listen, the perfume was very expensive and the jar was equally expensive too. Mary could have just opened the jar and poured a few drops of that expensive perfume on the head of Jesus and everybody would have said, “What a wonderful act of devotion.” Or, she could have poured it all out but saved the jar so that it could be filled again then everybody would have said, “My, God how generous! How much love she must have for Jesus?”
However, this woman broke the jar so that it could never be filled again. Giving it all. The gift, jar, and perfume were for God and she never wanted to use it again.
In other words, we see her sins were forgiven because of Jesus and by breaking the jar she is making a statement that she would not be returning to her old way of life again. In this one fleeting moment when the opportunity was there, she seized it to show her love.
Therefore, find a new way to express your love for the Lord. Do something new to tell God how much you love him and by giving it all to Jesus. Oh, yes, people did criticize her but Jesus knew her heart and what she had done.
Mark 14:6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Your act of worship, giving, coming to church, faith, your prayer, may be foolish to your family, foolish to the world but it is a beautiful thing for the Lord.
Jesus says that she has recognized many things others have not recognized. He also hinted about his death many times to his disciples. The disciples could not believe that Jesus would die at such a young age. If an old man keeps on saying, “I am going to die”, probably we can understand that maybe his time is up.
Generally, if a young man of 33 years says he is going to die, it is difficult for people to understand. The disciples could not get it right. However, Mary heard the death cry of Jesus and she chose in giving it all to Jesus.
By anointing the head of Jesus, Mary recognized the Kingship of Jesus Christ.
Nard was a kingly gift used in funerals to prepare the body after the death of kings. When Mary poured nard on Jesus’ head, she recognized that Jesus Christ is King.
By anointing the head of Jesus, Mary recognized the priesthood of Christ.
The OT priests were anointed before they took office. The priests had to offer an animal as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus was both a priest and a sacrificial lamb that week. Mary recognized the priesthood of Christ, therefore she worshipped Jesus as King and Priest, sacrificially and selflessly.
Mark 14:6-8 6“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.
This woman didn’t have much but what she had, she gave to Jesus. She did what she could and she didn’t do it for anybody else. Rather than what she did, pay attention to the fact that she did it giving it all to Jesus.
Now ask yourself, “What have you ever done for Jesus? How have you expressed your love back to Him? Have you expressed your love for God according to the measure he has blessed you with? Have you been giving it all to Jesus? Is it all that you can do for God or could you do better?”
You may be telling me, pastor, I do this and I do that for God. Many times doing something for God gives us a satisfaction that we are doing great things for God but are you doing it out of your love for Jesus or are you doing it for people to see? Is there any sacrifice in your relationship with Christ? Have you been giving it all to Jesus?
God has blessed us with a family. He has blessed us with jobs. He has also blessed us with everything that we ever imagined or thought about.
Have you ever given back to God in the same capacity of what he has done for you? Are you giving it all to Jesus? Let us surrender all out of love for Jesus! Amen.