What’s up with that – A woman uses her hair to clean Jesus’ feet?
Can you imagine hearing a giant rumble or a “really loud hailstorm” and then looking out your window and seeing this 100 ton boulder on top of your car? That’s exactly what happened this week to Tim & Diane Pfaff.[i] No one was hurt, but his Civic didn’t make it! Reality can be harsh sometimes. Tim & Diane aren’t the only ones dealing with reality!
Several years ago, the Arizona Game and Fish Department began nursing more than 30 emaciated, dehydrated, banged-up pelicans. The injured pelicans had been found from Yuma to Phoenix. The brown pelicans were injured when they descended from the sky, sailed low over sidewalks and asphalt highways, stretched out their feet as though to make a perfect splash landing in water, and then tumbled end over end when they instead hit the pavement. The pelicans, apparently suffering a food shortage in California, flew to Arizona looking for fish. From the sky, the shimmering hot air over the black asphalt appeared like water to the Pelicans. Down they flew for fish and a refreshing dip in what they thought was a lake. What they found instead though was harsh reality - solid pavement, dehydration, hunger, and near death. Sometimes reality really stinks!
I didn’t get the promotion. My team lost! Either someone I love has died or is dying. Well, reality really stinks for Jesus too! He must die and only two people apart from Jesus himself actually believe that! Let’s find out who they are! Turn in your Bibles today to John 12. Do you need a Bible? Two invitations! Easter Invite cards and David Bondurant has another installment of Christ in You taking place on April 20-21. Dr. David Roadcup from CCU will speak on practical discipleship - what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? The fee is $20 and you can register online! Last week we began this series called “What’s up with that? This series started in Genesis! Today we move into John’s Gospel as we prepare for Palm Sunday (PRM) and Easter Weekend. We will then return to the book of Genesis. I know I told you John 12, but there’s an APB on Jesus. Find John 11:57. In light of that, John sets the scene for us. Read John 12:1a. Jesus arrives on a Friday – six days later, a Thursday – Passover begins. His grand entrance into Jerusalem happens on Sunday, Palm Sunday. Look at verse 1 &2a. Why is Jesus being honored? John gives us the answer in verse 1. Lazarus died and Jesus brought him back from the dead. This is the ultimate surprise party. They are not going to shout SURPRISE, but they are surprised that Lazarus is there in the first place. But Lazarus isn’t the only dinner guest. Matthew & Mark tell us this party is at Simon the leper’s house. So there’s Simon and his family, plus Jesus, Lazarus and Lazarus’ two sisters. John gives us two sets of two. The first two are Mary & Martha, Lazarus’ sisters. Read verses 2 & 3a.
Some things in life I’ve never done and that’s one of them and I’m guessing neither have you! OK, church, what’s the question I want you to ask? What’s up with that? What in the world is Mary doing with her hair and Jesus’ feet? Truthfully, Mary & Martha made me think! I know that’s dangerous sometimes. But here’s the question I’ve asked myself which I now ask you? How are you (WE) honoring Jesus? Here’s Martha’s answer. Go back to verse 2. Martha serves. This dinner is apparently at Simon’s house, but that’s not a problem for Martha. She loves to serve. She’s wired to serve. Hospitality is her thing! What’s your “thing” for God? Where do you serve God so you can honor him? That word serve is the word we use for deacon. It means /“to be a servant, be an attendant, to wait upon another!”[ii]/ Which is exactly what Martha is doing and Lazarus is not! Lazarus is reclining; Martha is serving! This time she’s not frustrated though, like she was in Luke 10. Martha honors Jesus by serving. Mary honors Jesus by worshipping.
Mary always seems to be at Jesus’ feet. Turn to Luke 10:38. Read 38-39. Go back to John 12:3. The difference between Mary & Martha comes down to this. Martha loved to do! Mary loved to be! Martha always had a “to do” list! Mary had a “to be” list. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with “doing” for Jesus. But something profound happens to you when you want to “be” with Jesus! A friend helped me see the difference. I have with me today 168 golf balls. Why 168? Because there are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. 24 X 7 = 168, which means we all have 168 hours in one week. I have 50 golf balls in each bag. Here’s our entire week – 168 hours! I get one hour! Media gets 6 hours and 21 minutes[iii], but I get one hour of your time to influence you about Jesus Christ. My one hour with you is not enough time. But you have the time to sit at Jesus’ feet every time you open up the Bible for yourself!
And if you do, you’ll begin to see things and hear things differently. Mary did! Mary knows something’s up! John didn’t. Neither did Peter, OR James. Maybe they weren’t listening very well considering Jesus alluded to his death some 7 times and clearly stated his death another ½ dozen times.[iv] They don’t see it coming. Mary does! That’s what happens when you sit at someone’s feet! So Mary decides to go all Bath & Body Works on Jesus! What do I mean by that? My son Sam and I can’t stand going into Bath & Body Works. I mean a cloud of perfume smacks you in the face when you open the door. Sam & I can only hold our collective breath for 2 minutes before we have to bolt the place for air! My wife and daughter do not share our perfume annoyance. Have you ever heard of over kill? I heard one guy say this is my 18 hotdog. I’d hate to riding in the same car on the way home! Name the world’s all-time best selling cookie? That would be the Oreo! 450 billion Oreo cookies have been sold worldwide since they hit the market in 1912. The Oreo celebrated its 100th birthday just over two weeks ago on March 6, 2012.[v] There’s nothing wrong with eating an Oreo cookie or two or 6, but the whole package? A bit excessive don’t you think? Go back to John 12:3.
Mary must have been wearing some kind of an alabaster flask necklace. The flask itself was expensive. Someone would ream out a stone, pour the perfume inside and then seal the flask.[vi] It’s kind of like a piggy bank. The only way to open it is to break it, which she did. John says she pours out nard, which is perfume or myrrh. What she does is expensive. What she does is sacrificial. What she does is wasteful. What she does is pure devotion. And then to wipe his feet with her hair – that’s humiliation! This is just excessive. Why? What’s up with Mary? Go to John 11: 1-2. Go to Luke 7:36. Read 36-38. Luke doesn’t mention Mary’s name. How kind of him. Maybe Mary knew how to honor Jesus because Mary was motivated by love. Maybe Mary loved much because she was forgiven much!
But Judas was motivated by greed! Here’s our 2nd pair – Mary & Judas. Go back to John 12:4. Read 4-6. Since Judas is a thief he’d be the last person to correctly conclude that Jesus was going to die. But Judas is getting more and more frustrated with Jesus’ antics. To overturn an oppressive Roman government will take more than serving and sacrificing. Judas isn’t going to get wealthy giving to the poor. Why be Jesus’ apostle if he’s going to die? Judas is greedy. His greed has left a hole for Satan to get in. Jump over to John 13:26. (Read 26-27) What’s Judas going to do? Sell Jesus out!
Do you remember why all these people have gathered? They are honoring Jesus. Martha honored Jesus by serving. Mary honored Jesus by worshipping him. She anointed his body for burial when he wasn’t even dead yet! But she knew it was coming. Judas did too. So he decides to bail!
Will you honor Jesus with your life? (Colton Dixon Twitter Bio) Today is Decision Sunday! Will you honor him by acknowledging that he is indeed the Son of the living God? Will you humiliate yourself like countless others have done before by being baptized today? Will you honor him by serving him like Martha did? Will you honor him like Mary did by sitting at his feet? By being in his word and doing what his word says? Will you honor him today by remaining faithful despite what death shouts at you? Jesus speaks in verses 7&8. Reality stinks sometimes. Jesus has to die. He knows it! And since Jesus isn’t in this world anymore would you honor him by caring for the poor? He did! We’ve compared two sets of two - Mary & Martha and Mary and Judas. Actually there’s a third. Jesus and Lazarus. What do they have in common? Both came back from the dead. What do they not have in common? Lazarus will die again! Jesus never will.
[i] Jim Phillips, Columbus Dispatch, 100 Tons of Terror
[ii] Logos Bible Software, John 12:2, Diakoneo
[iii] Plugged In Magazine, Generation M2
[iv] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 491
[v] Preaching Today.com News that Illustrates, The Oreo Cookie Turns 100
[vi] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 490