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How Have You Responded to the Saving Work of Jesus?
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. - John 12:3, ESV
Sometimes when we read the Gospels, it's hard to find good role models for our lives as believers. Surprisingly, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, is one of our best models for worship and discipleship in the Gospels. It's actually amazing how positively the Gospels portray her as a model disciple, given the approach to religion in the ancient world and in ancient Judaism, in particular.
Mary shows us one thing most clearly: The best place for a disciple of Jesus to be is at His feet. We see Mary in Luke 10, sitting at Jesus' feet learning from Him, while her sister, Martha, was distracted with busyness in preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples. When Jesus says, "Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her," we learn that it is better to sit quietly at Jesus' feet and learn than to wear ourselves out in work, even work for Him.
In today's passage, we see how Mary responds to the saving power of Jesus in restoring her brother to life. She comes to Jesus, pours out the most precious thing she has at His feet and wipes His feet with her hair. In this extravagant, scandalous act of grateful devotion, Mary shows us how we should respond to the work of Jesus in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.
How do we respond when we consider that the voice of Jesus has called us from death to life? How do we respond when we remember the grace of God in rescuing us from sin and death? Do we grumble and begrudgingly give Him 15 minutes of time in His word? Do we lazily drag ourselves out of bed to worship on Sunday, half-asleep and half-engaged? Mary's worship was overflowing gratitude, thankfulness expressed in sacrifice, extravagant and precious, heart-felt and unreserved.
Paul says in Romans 12:1: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (ESV) Our response to God's mercy in the Gospel should be a whole life lived as a sacrifice to God. The ESV says this is our "spiritual worship," but the Greek is probably better translated as our logical or reasonable worship. It's the worship that makes sense in the light of the Gospel. Half-hearted, compartmentalized, reluctant, obligatory worship is irrational as a response to what Jesus has done and what God has given us in Him!
So what does living-sacrifice worship involve? Hebrews 13:15-16 spells out part of it: "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." (ESV) Praise, thanksgiving and generosity are the sacrifices that please God. These are the sacrifices that make sense in light of the Gospel - to praise God, to give thanks and acknowledge His greatness and to share what we've been given with others, physically and spiritually.
So, how have you responded to the saving work of Jesus? Are you overflowing with expensive, sacrificial, continual worship? When we respond to God in this way, we find our joy and satisfaction in Him and we are blessed.
Prayer Based on Psalm 34:
I will bless You, Lord, at all times;
Your praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in You alone, O Lord;
let the lowly hear and be glad.
Let them come and magnify You with me,
and let us exalt Your name together!
I sought You, Lord, and You answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to You are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and You, O Lord, heard me
and saved me out of all my troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear You, and You deliver them.
By Your grace, I have tasted and seen that You are good!
How greatly You bless those who take refuge in You!
Those who fear You have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek You, Lord, lack no good thing.
Your eyes, O Lord, are toward the righteous
and Your ears toward their cry.
Your face, Lord, is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, You hear
and You deliver us out of all our troubles.
You are near to the brokenhearted,
and You save the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but You alone, O Lord, deliver us out of them all.
You redeem the life of Your servants;
none of those who take refuge in You will be condemned. Amen!
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