KING OF OUR HEART

John 12:12-15 ¶ The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!

What a strange way to conquer a city. Make no mistake, this King of Peace came in to Jerusalem to conquer. His conquest was not like any other invading king. There was no swords, horses, or armies and no arrows piercing the sky. His conquest was different from all the others. He came to conquer our hearts. His entrance on a young donkey, hardly a great military maneuver. Jesus had His sights set on our hearts all along. He would cleanse the temple, heal the sick, and prophesy about the coming of the Holy Spirit. No threats, no blows, just the love of God pouring out of Him into all who were thirsty. Here is how Barclay describes this scene.

“It was not the kingship of the throne which he claimed; it was the kingship of the heart. He came humbly and riding upon an ass. We must be careful to see the real meaning of that. In western lands the ass is a despised beast; but in the east the ass could be a noble animal. Often a king came riding upon an ass, but when he did, it was the sign that he came in peace. The horse was the mount of war; the ass was the mount of peace. So when Jesus claimed to be king, he claimed to be the king of peace. He showed that he came, not to destroy, but to love; not to condemn, but to help; not in the might of arms, but in the strength of love.”

So…..has He captured your heart yet? Have you been captured by His agonizing prayer as He prayed for us in the garden? Maybe your heart was touched when He was whipped beyond recognition carrying our sickness and pains. Or was it the crucifixion that got you, He was wounded for our transgressions and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. His entrance to Jerusalem was all about His choice to suffer and die for us. He is the conquering King, He has captured the hearts of His sons and daughters.

EXPOSED BY WORSHIP

John 12:3 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.

It’s funny how worship can expose the heart of everyone involved. Mary had just poured out the fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus when another fragrance filled the room. It wasn’t enough for Judas to have his own opinions, he had to attack Mary and her extravagant display of affection. Why do you allow this kind of affection? Why do you allow this kind of waste? Shouldn’t we have fed the poor instead of wasting the oil on your hands and feet?

Have you ever wondered what was really eating at Judas? Sure, he was bummed about the apparent waste of resources (he had other ideas of how to use the money). That wasn’t the real issue; the real issue was the pubic display of affection. Judas couldn’t let that slide. It put too much pressure on him and the others. Were they expected to worship this way too?

What Judas did’t quite understand was what had made Mary this kind of worshipper? What had changed in the last few days? From something Jesus said we can see into the heart of Mary’s actions.

“For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”

That was it! Mary seemed to be the very first from the inner circle to get the implications of His death. This is why He had come. Mary finally understood the source Of His mercy and her forgiveness. He was the sacrificial lamb that John the Baptist had prophesied about. Jesus had come to die. This is what exposed Judas’ heart. Judas wanted the power that would result from a revolution, His death would be the end of those hopes and plans. That’s why that blasted fragrance was so disturbing; it was the smell of Mary’s worship. This was the fragrant worship that sprung from revelation. Jesus had come to die for sinners, this was Mary’s only hope.

This brings us to us. Who is Jesus to you. Is He just a way for us to accomplish our earthly dreams; maybe business, ministry, or even family. Or is He more than that, maybe He is way more than that. How will you know? You will know when you next find yourself in a room where that aroma of worship begins to be poured out. It has a way of uncovering the condition of our hearts.

EXPOSED BY WORSHIP

John 12:3 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.

It’s funny how worship can expose the heart of everyone involved. Mary had just poured out the fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus when another fragrance filled the room. It wasn’t enough for Judas to have his own opinions, he had to attack Mary and her extravagant display of affection. Why do you allow this kind of affection? Why do you allow this kind of waste? Shouldn’t we have fed the poor instead of wasting the oil on your hands and feet?

Have you ever wondered what was really eating at Judas? Sure, he was bummed about the apparent waste of resources (he had other ideas of how to use the money). That wasn’t the real issue; the real issue was the pubic display of affection. Judas couldn’t let that slide. It put too much pressure on him and the others. Were they expected to worship this way too?

What Judas did’t quite understand was what had made Mary this kind of worshipper? What had changed in the last few days? From something Jesus said we can see into the heart of Mary’s actions.

“For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”

That was it! Mary seemed to be the very first from the inner circle to get the implications of His death. This is why He had come. Mary finally understood the source Of His mercy and her forgiveness. He was the sacrificial lamb that John the Baptist had prophesied about. Jesus had come to die. This is what exposed Judas’ heart. Judas wanted the power that would result from a revolution, His death would be the end of those hopes and plans. That’s why that blasted fragrance was so disturbing; it was the smell of Mary’s worship. This was the fragrant worship that sprung from revelation. Jesus had come to die for sinners, this was Mary’s only hope.

This brings us to us. Who is Jesus to you. Is He just a way for us to accomplish our earthly dreams; maybe business, ministry, or even family. Or is He more than that, maybe He is way more than that. How will you know? You will know when you next find yourself in a room where that aroma of worship begins to be poured out. It has a way of uncovering the condition of our hearts.

PURSUE JOY

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John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

All of us love ourselves. We may put up some kind of spiritual facade and pretend we don’t, but loving ourselves is part of our very nature. So what was Jesus trying to say in this passage? He speaks of actually hating ourselves; what could He possibly mean? He was getting at something that is really the very essence of finding happiness in this life. Jesus was trying to show us that in finding our source of pleasure in the things in the created world we would never find happiness and would actually “lose our lives”. It is in changing the focus of our pursuit that brings us into pleasures beyond anything we can imagine. Joy is found in finding God. So losing our life, giving up the pursuit of happiness in the things of this world, is the key to finding our life. John Piper quotes and explains Augustine’s take on this passage, check this out.
“The reason some people think Jesus’s teaching on self denial contradicts the pursuit of our joy is that they fail to think deeply into the paradox of his words. Saint Augustine captured the paradox like this: ‘If you love your soul, there is danger of its being destroyed. Therefore you may not love it, since you do not want it to be destroyed. But in not wanting it to be destroyed you love it.’ So everything hangs on how we love our souls. If you love your soul in wanting it to have as many comforts in this world as possible, then self denial will be an insuperable obstacle. But if you love your soul in wanting it to be supremely and eternally happy in God, then self denial is not an impediment but a path. Therefore, Jesus’s teaching about self denial presses us onward in the pursuit of maximum joy in God.”
This is the most liberating revelation a Christian can have. It is not denying the pursuit of pleasure but changing the focus of our pursuit that brings me into joy evermore. So actually it is not bad to love yourself from God’s perspective. It is just how you love yourself that is important. So go ahead and splurge today. I’m not talking about a shopping spree or devouring cake and ice cream, I am talking about feasting on God Himself. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT

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John 12:12-15 ¶ The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.

I often think about the strange and unusual crowd we have at Victory Fellowship. There are all sorts of diverse groups. Kind of reminds me of the song we sang in Sunday School so many years ago; “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight Jesus loves the little children of the world”. There are the young, the old, the homeless, the affluent, the single moms, the nuclear families, the hipsters, hippies, and beat nicks. You might find a teacher, a cook, a police officer, a military man, students, lawyers and preachers, stay at home moms, and corporate moms. The one common denominator that makes us a community is the testimony of Jesus, Christ lives in each of us individually and reveals Himself in us corporately.

I have been thinking about the first Palm Sunday as our annual Palm Sunday celebration approaches and have been struck thinking about the diversity in the crowd that day. I began to imagine the strangest companions who may have met in the massive crowd. I think of Blind Bartimaeus who had just been healed several days before running into the lame man who had been healed at the pool of Bethesda. What a pair, the one who couldn’t see who couldn’t take his eyes off of Jesus, and the one who couldn’t walk who couldn’t stop dancing. Then there was Lazarus and the widow of Nain and her son. Lazarus and this young man shared an unusual bond, they had both been dead but now they were singing and shouting and following Jesus down the road. I wonder if Mary Magdalene, the former prostitute, was holding on to Jesus’ mother Mary. One who had followed Jesus from her youth and one who was redeemed from a dark life of sin. They both followed Jesus and both had a common testimony, His love had changed their lives forever.

I think the thing that probably stood out the most that day was the singing of the children, they were laughing and singing with all their hearts. They too were part of this Jesus Community and they too were precious in His sight.

PURE WORSHIP

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John 12:3 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.

Judas was offended by what he considered waste of a valuable substance, the costly perfume. He had no idea of what was really going on, he was blinded by personal ambition for power and greed. What Judas couldn’t see was the real offering that Mary was pouring out, it was Mary’s real offering that caused the offense. The real offering was the pouring out of her heart. Her heart had been awakened and filled with a heavenly substance, the substance is the grace of God poured into the heart of everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. She was not just pouring out expensive perfume, she was pouring our her heart and soul upon Jesus. He had become her greatest treasure she couldn’t hold anything back. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on today’s passage.
“Let us seek to have our heart full of the grace that is ten thousand times more precious than that ointment, ten thousand times more costly, that costs not only three hundred pence, or ten thousand times as much silver and gold, but the precious blood of the Son of God, and that is ten thousand times sweeter and pleasanter than the fragrancy of that ointment. And don’t only seek to have such grace in your heart, but to have it in exercise, that it may not only be in your heart, but that it may flow out of your heart; that it may be ointment poured forth, and that it may be poured forth out of a broken heart. Seek the exercises of an humble broken-hearted faith and trust in Christ, and the exercises of an humble broken-hearted love to him and a broken-hearted resignation to him, and a broken-hearted joy in him and a humble obedience to all his commands. Come, all you that love the Lord Jesus; love him and rejoice in him after this manner. This is divine love, and this is joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
That’s it! The real treasure was the deposit that had been poured into Mary’s heart, the precious heavenly ointment of heaven. All she could do was pour it back on the Lord. Worship is not that complicated, its what we do when our hearts are bursting with the love of God.

DON’T BE A LITTERBUG

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John 12:3 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.

Worship is all about beauty. When something is striking we can’t help ourselves; beauty and greatness turns us all into worshippers. I guess one of the challenges in life is this, not everybody can see or even notice beauty. When I was a child there was a big national campaign about littering; ‘don’t be a litterbug’. As a child I didn’t notice the natural beauty of God’s world all around me, not littering was just a rule that I learned to obey. Today, I see God’s beauty all around me, throwing trash on His creation would be sort of unthinkable to me. In the same way, spiritual perception enables us to see the beauty of Christ. Not worshipping Him in His greatness is also unthinkable; ignoring His beauty would be like throwing filth on Him, that is quite inconceivable. Mary had seen the beauty of Christ that others around her were blind to, pouring out her heart in worship was her natural and appropriate response. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on Mary’s act of worship.

“The sweet ointment poured forth out of Mary’s box on the head of Christ, was a type of true grace and divine love flowing forth out of the heart of the true believer towards Jesus Christ. Grace in Scripture is often compared to oil or ointment…. As Mary’s ointment was very precious and costly, so is that grace that is in the heart of a saint. It is a most precious thing and very costly. It cost a great price. All the silver and gold in the world would not have purchased it. It cost Christ’s precious blood. Mary poured her sweet ointment upon Christ; so does the grace that is in the heart of a saint, when in exercise, flow out to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Have you been changed from a spiritual litterbug into a worshipper of the beauty of the Lord? Judas and the other disciples had seen what Mary had seen, her actions seemed incomprehensible to them. Actually, pouring out that expensive perfume seemed like a waste. We all often find ourselves in Mary’s shoes, we are pouring out our hearts in worship surrounded by litterbugs that are just polluting the atmosphere. Don’t be a litterbug!!!

FRAGRANT OIL

The house was filled with the odor of the ointment. John 12:3

The Bible says we carry a treasure in our ‘earthen vessel’. In that phrase Paul is obviously talking about the preciousness of Christ. This treasure is the Holy Presence of Jesus within us. Often, this sweetness is never sensed by anyone around us. That’s not how it was in this story, the fragrance of Christ in Mary’s life was filling the room. The story of the broken flask and the poured out oil picture the brokenness of heart and the release of the fragrant aroma of Christ from our lives. What kind of things bring us to a place where we begin to pour out, or spill the preciousness of Christ from within our lives? Mary obviously had gone through some deep places in her life allowing this sweetness to be poured out. Some think that Mary of Bethany was also Mary Magdalene. If so, she had experienced the hardness of life on the streets and the power of forgiveness found only in Christ. Recently she had dealt with the death of her brother Lazarus, the funeral, and his unexpected raising from the dead. These experiences brought her to a place where Christ was pouring from her life. The whole atmosphere of the room was permeated with the fragrance of her love being poured out on Christ. Here is how Watchman Nee describes this story.

“By the breaking of that flask for the Lord’s sake, the home in Bethany was pervaded with the sweetest fragrance. Something was set free for all to appreciate, and none could be unaware of it. What is the significance of this? Have you ever met someone who has suffered deeply and whose experiences have compelled him to find satisfaction in the Lord alone? Then immediately you have become aware of something. Immediately your spiritual senses detect a fragrance—what Paul terms “a sweet savor of Christ.” Something has been broken in that life in order to release what is there within of God Himself, and you cannot mistake it. Yes, the odor that filled the house that day in Bethany still fills the church today. Mary’s fragrance never passes.”
What kind of fragrance do people pick up around you? What determines that is how you respond in the darkest moments of your life. If you cling to Christ in your hopeless situations you will experience the brokenness that leads to life. You, like Mary will pour out this preciousness, this fragrance, in response to God’s faithfulness and love He has poured out on you.

EXPOSED BY WORSHIP

John 12:3 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.

 

It’s funny how worship can expose the heart of everyone involved. Mary had just poured out the fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus when another fragrance filled the room. It wasn’t enough for Judas to have his own opinions, he had to attack Mary and her extravagant display of affection. Why do you allow this kind of affection? Why do you allow this kind of waste? Shouldn’t we have fed the poor instead of wasting the oil on your hands and feet?

Have you ever wondered what was really eating at Judas? Sure, he was bummed about the apparent waste of resources (he had other ideas of how to use the money). That wasn’t the real issue; the real issue was the  pubic display of affection. Judas couldn’t let that slide. It put too much pressure on him and the others. Were they expected to worship this way too?

What Judas did’t quite understand was what had made Mary this kind of worshipper? What had changed in the last few days? From something Jesus said we can see into the heart of Mary’s actions.

“For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”

That was it! Mary seemed to be the very first from the inner circle to get the implications of His death. This is why He had come. Mary finally understood the source Of His mercy and her forgiveness. He was the sacrificial lamb that John the Baptist had prophesied about. Jesus had come to die. This is what exposed Judas’ heart. Judas wanted the power that would result from a revolution, His death would be the end of those hopes and plans. That’s why that blasted fragrance was so disturbing; it was the smell of Mary’s worship. This was the fragrant worship that sprung from revelation. Jesus had come to die for sinners, this was Mary’s only hope.

This brings us to us. Who is Jesus to you. Is He just a way for us to accomplish our earthly dreams; maybe business, ministry, or even family. Or is He more than that, maybe He is way more than that. How will you know? You will know when you next find yourself in a room where that aroma of worship begins to be poured out. It has a way of uncovering the condition of our hearts.

ELEPHANTS AND FRAGRANT OINTMENTS

John 12:3 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.

Mary’s act of worship was totally out of the box. It was passionate, extravagant, and totally out of the norm. This was a radical, bold display of devotion birthed out of unprecedented revelation. You could say Mary had passed the point of no return. There was no going back to the way life was before that fateful day, decisions had been made, sides were being drawn. That’s the way worship is; worship transcends all of the philosophizing of humans. Worships draws a line in the sand. When the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment it had become un-ignorable. This was the proverbial elephant in the room, something had to give. Judas’ fateful decision was made as a result of Mary’s act, he felt things were now out of hand. Actually worship always does that, it rips off the covers. Everything that was already there is suddenly exposed. It’s hard to hide when the whole house is filled with the fragrance.

That is exactly what church is supposed to be; extravagant worship, poured out ointment, the whole house filled with the fragrance. Its possible to hide in a religious atmosphere, true worship tends to ruin that. Its hard to hide when glory fills the room. Here are some comments from Jonathan Edwards on Mary’s amazing act.

“Let us seek to have our heart full of the grace that is ten thousand times more precious than that ointment, ten thousand times more costly, that costs not only three hundred pence, or ten thousand times as much silver and gold, but the precious blood of the Son of God, and that is ten thousand times sweeter and pleasanter than the fragrancy of that ointment. And don’t only seek to have such grace in your heart, but to have it in exercise, that it may not only be in your heart, but that it may flow out of your heart; that it may be ointment poured forth, and that it may be poured forth out of a broken heart.”

Edwards got it; the same grace that flows into us at salvation flows out of us in worship. Mary was responding to the love she had received, all she could do was worship. Has your house been filled with the fragrance, its time to stop ignoring that blasted elephant.