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Getting Closer to Christ (Sermon with Lord's Supper)

Notes & Transcripts

Getting Closer to Christ

(Sermon with Lord's Supper)

John 12:1-8

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 29, 2013

*Kevin Higgins asks: "Do you ever feel distant from God? Wish you were closer to Him?" Church, you are in good company. In Psalm 13:1, King David cried out these questions to God: "How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?"

*And Kevin explained: "We all go through wilderness times in our lives, times when we feel deserted by God, times when our prayers don't seem to be heard. We feel distant from God, cool in our devotion to Him, wondering if we will ever get that closeness back." (1)

*You may be going through one of those dry spells right now. But even if you're not, let me give you some great news for 2014: This year you can get closer to Jesus Christ than you have ever been! And these verses from God's Word can help us get there. Lazarus' sister Mary shows us the kind of relationship the Lord wants to have with you and me.

1. First: Jesus wants us to be confident in Him.

*We are reminded of this truth in vs. 1&2:

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.

*Mary surely was confident in the Lord. In vs. 2, Mary's brother Lazarus was there at the table with the Lord. But just a few days or weeks before, Lazarus' body was lying in a grave. And Mary had been there when Jesus raised her brother from the dead.

*Please listen to part of the story in John 11, starting at vs. 38:

38. Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.

39. Jesus said, "Take away the stone.'' Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.''

40. Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?''

41. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.

42. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.''

43. Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!''

44. And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go.''

*Mary was there too. She saw and heard all of these things. And now Lazarus was sitting with them there at the table! There is no doubt that Mary had absolute confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so should we!

*We should have confidence in Jesus, because He loves us beyond measure! Because He died on the cross for our sins! Because He rose again from the dead! And because He will never fail us! We have God's Word on all of these things. So Jesus wants us to be confident in Him.

2. He also wants us to be committed to Him.

*The Lord wants us to be committed like Mary was in vs. 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."

*Think about Mary's commitment to the Lord.

[1] First, she was committed with her presence.

*The situation had gotten very dangerous for Jesus and His followers. After Lazarus was raised from the dead, John 11:53-54 says this about Jesus:

53. Then from that day on they plotted to put Him to death.

54. Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.

*The situation was dangerous for Jesus and His followers, but Mary stood by Jesus. She was there when she could have walked away. And many already had walked away, because it was dangerous to be with Jesus.

*They also walked away, because they would not receive the Lord's teachings. In John 6, Jesus talked about being the Bread of Life. And the Lord said this:

57. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

58. This is the bread which came down from heaven not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.''

59. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

60. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?''

61. When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?

62. What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?

63. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

64. But there are some of you who do not believe.'' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

65. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.''

66. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

*Many had walked away, but Mary stood by the Lord. She was there to serve the Lord. She used her hands to spread the ointment. How are you using your hands to serve the Lord?

*In vs. 3, Mary even used her hair to serve the Lord. She wiped Jesus' feet with her hair. Why did she do that? Well, she must have been on her knees before the Lord. And that's where we need to be, bowed down in worship and adoration. Mary was there with total devotion for the Lord: Her hands, her hair, her heart.

[2] She was committed with her presence. -- And with her possessions.

*Again in vs. 3, "Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, (and) anointed the feet of Jesus." This gift of ointment was an extravagant expression of Mary's love. Judas shows us how extravagant it was in vs. 4&5:

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?''

*300 "denarii" or 300 "pence" in the KJV. A "denarius" was the main silver coin of the Roman Empire, roughly equal to the pay for a day’s labor. So 300 "denarii" was equivalent to an average man's wage for 300 days.

*Mary used ointment that it would take a whole year's salary to buy! I love my wife. But she did not get the 300 pence perfume for Christmas! The Mary in John 12 gave her absolute best to Jesus. She was fully committed to the Lord, because she had the right priorities in life. Jesus confirmed this truth for us in vs. 7&8, when He said:

7. . . "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.''

*Mary knew what mattered most in life. It's easy to forget.

*Glenn Adsett and his wife were missionaries in China when the Communists took over in the late 1940s. Glenn, his wife and their two children were placed under house arrest while they waited to hear what the Communists were going to do with them.

*Then the soldiers came one day and said, "You can return to America." They went into a wild celebration. But then the soldier gruffly said, "You can take only 200 pounds with you!" They started rushing around. They had been in China for many years. Where do you begin to limit the possessions of a lifetime to 200 pounds?

*They got the scales and started arguing about what to take. They all had their own ideas about what was most important: a typewriter, a vase, some keepsakes they treasured. Finally they got it down to 200 pounds right on the dot. The soldier asked, "Ready to go?" -- "Yes!" they replied.

*Then the soldier asked, "Did you weigh the children?" Suddenly the typewriter, the vase, and all the keepsakes became trash. Throw them away! They were garbage compared to the children! Glenn and his wife were reminded of what matters most in life. And nothing matters more than God! (2)

*Mary was fully committed to the Lord, because she had the right priorities in life. How did she get that way? -- The answer is found in Luke 10:38-42, which says:

38. Now it happened as they went that He (Jesus) entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.

39. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.

40. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and 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.''

41. And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

42. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.''

*Mary loved the Lord, because she listened to the Lord. And the more we really listen to Jesus, the more we will love Him too. And we will be committed.

*Lazarus' sister Mary shows us the kind of relationship the Lord wants to have with you and me. Jesus wants us to be committed to Him.

3. He also wants to care for us.

[1] Remember that Mary had a savage attacker in today's Scripture. It was Judas, and we see him in vs. 4-6:

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.

*Judas is hard for us to understand. To see all he saw, to hear all he heard, and still reject Jesus is hard for us to understand. But it all came back to selfishness and sin. And that sin put Judas on Satan's side. So the devil used Judas to attack Mary, and somehow the devil will find ways to attack us.

[2] Mary had a savage attacker. -- But she also had a Savior! And we see Him in vs. 7&8:

7. Then 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.''

*Jesus was able to defend Mary. And He is surely able to defend us! In fact, He already has! By going to the cross for us, Jesus delivered us from sin, death, and hell! The Lord Jesus Christ wants to take care of you just like He took care of Mary, so, put your trust in the Lord!

*Lazarus' sister Mary shows us the kind of relationship the Lord wants to have with you and me. Jesus wants us to care for us.

4. He also wants to commend us.

*John's Gospel doesn't mention this. But Matthew and Mark do. Please listen to Matthew 26:11-13. There Jesus defended Mary, and said:

11. "For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.

12. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.

13. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.''

*Notice 3 great things in the Lord's commendation for Mary.

[1] First: If the Lord says something is going to happen, it is going to happen! Mary's story has been told all over the world. And we can always count on the Word of God!

[2] Next notice that God can use you to make a difference in His world. God used Mary, and He can use us too! In a difficult situation, on somebody's darkest day, God can use you to be a blessing.

[3] And the world may never hear about us the way they have heard about Mary. But Jesus will know. And one day, by His grace, we can hear Him say: "Well done."

CONCLUSION:

*That is the kind of relationship Jesus wants to have with every single one of us: To know that if we lose everything in this world, we are still more than conquerors, because we have Him.

*This year you can get closer to Jesus Christ than you have ever been! And we can start with a prayer. Would you please bow for prayer.

INVITATION

LORD'S SUPPER

*This morning we have the blessing of sharing the Lord's Supper together. This Supper can help express our commitment to Jesus, because He has commanded us to take the Lord's Supper. But it can also help inspire our commitment, as we remember what the Lord has done for us.

*And as we observe the Lord's Supper this morning, remember that it is for everyone who has received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. So, if you know Jesus, we invite you to share.

*The Apostle Paul told us how to take the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. There Paul said:

23. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;

24. and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.''

25. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.''

26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

27. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.

29. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

*Paul tells us here that the only way to properly receive the Lord's Supper is to search our hearts, repent and confess our sins to the Lord. And all of us need to do this, because all of us have sinned. Please join me in a time of silent prayer, as we search our hearts before the Lord.

DEACONS COME FORWARD TO SERVE THE ELEMENTS

*The Lord's Supper is to remind us of the high price that Jesus paid on the cross for our sins.

1. Jesus wants us to remember His body.

*And we remember His body with this bread, because Jesus is the Bread of Life. As He said in John 6:

35. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

47. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

48. I am the bread of life.

49. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

50. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.

51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.''

PRAYER TO BLESS THE BREAD

PASSING OF THE BREAD

*The Apostle Paul said: "I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'' (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

TAKING THE BREAD

2. Through the Lord's Supper, we remember the Lord's body. -- And we remember His blood.

*The Apostle John wrote these words in Revelation 1:4-6:

4. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

5. And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

6. And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

*We remember the Lord's blood, because He "loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. . ." The blood of Jesus Christ paid the price for every one of our sins. This cup represents the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Blood that He shed when He died on the cross for us.

PRAYER TO BLESS THE CUP

PASSING OF THE CUP

*"In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1 Corinthians 11:25)

TAKING THE CUP.

1 Corinthians 11:26 -- "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."

BENEDICTION: "Blest Be the Tie That Binds"

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "I Want God Close to Me" by Kevin Higgins - Matthew 1:23 - December 23, 2007

(2) "Deep Joy for a Shallow World" by Richard A. Wing, CSS Publishing Company, 1997, 0-7880-1033-6 - Source: Sermonillustrations.com - 12072003

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