Lavish Your Love on Jesus: John 12:3-7

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What a loaded passage. The passage of Mary and Jesus. Her wiping His feet. Anointing Him. Dirtying her hair. Loving the one most precious to her. In the face of ridiculers. In the face of those who didn’t think Jesus was worth that. To humiliate oneself for another was not acceptable. But Mary didn’t care. She lavishes herself on Jesus. Without apology. As if no one else is in the room. No one else but her and Jesus. Just her and Jesus.

In John chapter 12, we see Jesus coming back to Bethany for a dinner party thrown by Martha.

And we see Mary.

Lavishing her love upon Jesus.

But what’s fascinating about chapter 12 to me, is that Mary was upset with Jesus in chapter 11.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!!” she exclaims to Jesus while falling at His feet.

I can see her now…

…crying aloud, sobbing at His feet, head down, face on the ground, hanging on to His ankles, not letting go, tears streaming, wishing He would have come sooner, wishing He would make her hurt go away.

And Jesus cares…

“Deeply moved and greatly troubled” describes his temperament in verse 33. He weeps with her. Then He acts. He fixes it. He raises Lazarus from the dead in verse 43.

The next time we see Jesus, Mary is at His feet.

Again.

What brilliant literary imagery.

We pick it up in John 12:3-7,

“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. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.”

Last time, Mary came to Jesus with tears of disappointment. She didn’t know what to do. She just knew she needed Him. This, time, Mary comes to Jesus with tears of love. She knows that she needs Him and now she knows what to do. She wants to honor Him.

Yet both times, Mary comes to Jesus with the same posture: she falls at His feet.

We see her weeping at Jesus’ feet in weakness and frustration in chapter 11.

We see her anointing Jesus’ feet in weakness and awe in chapter 12.

Weakness is the common denominator.

Mary knows she is weak either way. She knows Jesus is the only one who can do anything for her in both instances. She knows He is Lord.

So she remains humbled at His feet.

Always at His feet.

But now, in chapter 12, something has shifted in Mary’s mind. And we don’t hear her utter a word. We just read about her lavishing herself upon Jesus.

I like to imagine what the scene might have looked like…

…Silence lingers in the room as the party guests sit on the edge of their seats watching…. “What is she doing?” they all whisper under their breath, looking at each other bewildered and confused at her radical display of affection. Mary runs her fingers through her hair, then gathers it as she dips it into the perfume again. Then she wipes her saturated hair on Jesus’ feet, head down, eyes lowered, sitting in the floor. “I’m sorry Lord.” She thinks to herself. “Forgive me for not trusting You. For not thinking you cared about me and my pain. I know You do. And I want you to know I love You. Please know I love You.” And she looks up at Him, hair drenched in perfume, droplets falling onto the floor, her nose overwhelmed by the scent in her hair, eyes burning from the strong liquid trickling down her forehead and into her eyes. Everyone staring at her like she’s a fool. But she doesn’t even notice them. She doesn’t care. She looks into his eyes and He looks back at her. “Please know I love you, Lord. Please know I honor You.” And she bends down again to keep wiping His feet with her hair. A smile on her face from being so close to the one she loves. Her love for Him on display.

Mary.

There’s something about Mary, isn’t there?

This touches my heart so much because I can feel so often like Jesus just doesn’t understand what I go through…that He can’t possibly know what it feels like…that He’s never going to come through.

But I remember this passage.

And I see Mary’s transformation.

From sobbing in frustration at Jesus’ feet in chapter 11 to pouring out her most precious gift to Him in chapter 12.

And she always wants to be around Jesus. She always needs to be where He is. She always goes to Him. Nothing ever makes her feel like she can’t come to Him.

Mary was changed by Jesus.

I want to be too.

And what Mary does for Jesus is crazy! It really is.

Think about it this way… emptying an ATM of about $25,000 all in Benjamins, making your way to your lover’s house and proceeding to rub their feet with the hundred dollar bills until the point where the money is completely disintegrated, no longer able to use. We don’t use money for this. It’s hyperbole. I mean, I’ve never seen a commercial for “dollar bill skin exfoliation.” But if it would make me all silky soft maybe I’d consider. No, I actually wouldn’t. Because it would be expensive. And I’ve got bills to pay. Mary did too. She had “bills to pay.” She had expenses. And that perfume was the most precious and expensive thing she had. Her rubbing Jesus’ feet with this perfume was like rubbing her entire bank account in dollar bills on his feet until it disintegrated. She didn’t care. She loved him and no amount of money would ever be too much to lavish upon Him.

But Judas didn’t like it.

He thought it was too much.

“Why wasn’t this used for something more practical!” Judas criticized loudly among all the party guests.

As if it was his perfume to begin with!

But Judas’ critique is almost absent from Mary’s awareness. She doesn’t even acknowledge the critique. She keeps wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair. And Jesus deals with Judas. He tells Judas to “leave her alone” and that “she may keep it for the day of my burial” in verse 7. Jesus honored Mary’s gift to him. And Jesus tells them that it actually contributes to preparing Him for what He would soon endure on the cross.

Mary’s burning desire for Jesus in this passage cannot be contained.

She doesn’t care who is in the way.

By gosh, she is going to get to Jesus!

And she’s going to do what she came to do…

…lavish Jesus with her most precious perfume…

…lavish Jesus with her love.

I admire Mary’s heart so much.

I want her heart.

I want to love Jesus so recklessly that no amount of humiliation is humiliating.

It’s worth it.

It’s love.

I want to be in love like that.

Sometimes I get so lonely thinking I have nobody to pour out my love upon. I want a man to love, God. I have so much love to give, Lord. Don’t You want me to love someone? I’ll think.

God is saying now, Natalie, I am that one I want you to love. Love Me. If you want to pour out your heart of love for someone, do it on Me. Lavish yourself on ME! And I will reciprocate your love in the way you’ve always desired.

God, may You be my one love. May we lavish ourselves upon You, Jesus. May You be worth it all.

My heart is so full right now…

Bursting to be poured out…

And this time…

I want to pour it out on Jesus.

On Jesus.

 

 

Song – Kari Jobe, Look Upon The Lord (Revisited Version)

Getting to Know Jesus: John 14

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The gospel of John reveals Jesus as the One through whom the world was made . The very Lamb of God, slain for the sins of man. Unlike the other three synoptic gospels, John is laden with a theological tone revealing Christ’s divinity and role as God in the flesh. I love that John also mentions himself in his gospel as “the one that Jesus loved” (John 13:23 & 21:20). He was confident in his identity as Jesus’ beloved. Even when his world was shaken by the arrest and crucifixion of his Lord. May we also be people who find our identity solely in Christ, as His beloved, even when our worlds are shaken by what we experience around us.

Particularly in John chapter 14, Jesus lovingly prepares His disciples for what is about to take place. Little do they know that their Rabbi, and friend, is nearing death and humiliation upon a Roman cross. But Jesus knows. He anticipates His departure and yet he already looks ahead to where He will be…not where He is imminently headed. Jesus possessed care and concern for the ones He led, which compelled him to speak to their anxiety before dealing with His own. Before the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spent time with His disciples describing to them the hope of his final destination: heaven. Not his looming circumstance: death. Jesus wanted them to know that just as He conquers death, so will His followers. He will come back to rescue.

Jesus knew that his disciples would face persecution, bullying, and humiliation after his death and resurrection. He knew that they would doubt their calling, doubt their purpose, and doubt their abilities at times. So he prepares them beforehand by setting a firm foundation in their minds of hope and anticipation of His return and their home with Him in heaven. We must take advantage of what we have through Christ’s Holy Spirit and let him prepare us before we experience certain struggles that will cause us to doubt our calling, purpose and abilities.

We must remember God’s truth before we are seduced by the lies of our culture. We must believe God’s love for us before we are tempted to think that we’re not good enough. We must be saturated with the hope of Jesus Christ before we get caught up in hoping for things that never last. Preparation is necessary before we can overcome. And this always requires the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who Jesus has sent to us in His name to help us remember all that He has taught.

When Jesus describes the Holy Spirit to his disciples in this passage, having just explained to them His own equality with God, I’m sure the disciples were just scratching their heads wondering just what Jesus was talking about with all these “I am in the Father…the Father is in me…” ideas. But I love how Jesus is bold to declare the truth of his identity despite the ambiguity that it brought to his disciples’ understanding. For them to hear that Jesus is the very image of God, while the Father is also in Jesus, and that there was a whole other part of God called the Holy Spirit was likely an overwhelming teaching lesson…and they had no Trinitarian theology books to help them make sense of it all! They just took Jesus at His word. They knew Jesus. And because they knew Jesus, they trusted Him that what He said was true. If only we would do the same. If only we would take Jesus at His word when he declares who He is to us. There is something valuable to this kind of faith.

As we get to know Jesus in John 14, we see Jesus as our God, our comforter, and our rescuer. John 14 reminds us there is something far greater than what this life has to offer: life with Jesus forever. And that we have hope in the midst of our circumstances by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. When we allow Jesus to prepare our minds with His truth, we become ready for any kind of battle that we may face. I don’t know about you, but I need that kind of hopeful preparation to remind me of my final destination of being with Jesus, not my impending circumstances. Let us allow Christ, through His Holy Spirit to prepare us with His truth above all else. For He alone is the way, the truth and the life. We are secure in Him. Forevermore.

 

Summary of John 14

Jesus talks to his disciples just hours before his arrest; Jesus encourages his disciples to not be afraid but to trust in God; Jesus describes His father’s house, where he plans to go and prepare a place for them; Jesus reassures them that He will come back again to take them to the place that He is preparing for them; Thomas asks Jesus how they are to know where Jesus is going; Jesus declares that He Himself is the way to where they will go; Jesus declares who He is in relation to God the Father, elaborating on how He and the Father are one; Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father, but Jesus reminds Him that they have already seen the Father because they have seen Jesus; Jesus tells his disciples that they will be able to do even greater works than He has done; Jesus encourages his disciples that if they ask anything in His name, He will do it; Jesus tells his disciples about the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at Jesus’ request; Jesus describes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; Jesus reminds the disciples that He will come back for them; Jesus encourages the disciples to keep His word if they love Him; Jesus reminds them that the ruler of the earth has no claim on Him.

Jesus in John 14

Jesus shows concern for us (v. 1)

Jesus desires to un-trouble our hearts (v. 1)

Jesus is calming (v. 1)

Jesus reassures us to believe in God (v. 1)

Jesus reassures us to believe in Him (v. 1)

Jesus un-troubles our hearts as we believe in Him (v. 1)

Jesus goes to prepare a place for His people in the Father’s house (v. 2)

Jesus prepares (v. 2)

Jesus plans (v. 2)

Jesus builds (v. 2)

Jesus’ words are trustworthy (v. 2)

Jesus will come again (v. 3)

Jesus will rescue us to Himself (v. 3)

Jesus’ place of residence is our place of residence also (v. 3)

Jesus keeps His promises (v. 3)

Jesus is faithful (v. 3)

Jesus tells us we know where he is going (v. 4)

Jesus is the way (v. 6)

Jesus is the truth (v. 6)

Jesus is the life (v. 6)

Jesus is the only One by whom we have access to God the Father (v. 6)

Jesus is the way to the Father (v. 6)

Jesus is the human manifestation of the Father on earth (v. 7)

Jesus is reflective of the Father (v. 9)

Jesus does not speak by His own authority alone (v. 10)

Jesus speaks and does by the Father who dwells in Him (v. 10)

Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him (v. 11)

Jesus and the Father are one (v. 11)

Jesus will enable those who believe in Him to do even greater works (v. 12)

Jesus will do whatever we ask in His name (v. 13-14)

Jesus, as the Son, glorifies the Father in answering us (v. 13)

Jesus tells us to keep His commandments if we love Him (v. 15)

Jesus asks the Father to give us the Holy Spirit (v. 16)

Jesus’ Spirit is sent to help us (v. 16)

Jesus’ Spirit is the Spirit of truth (v. 17)

Jesus’ Spirit is not available to the world (v. 17)

Jesus’ Spirit is only available to His followers (v. 17)

Jesus’ Spirit dwells with us (v. 17)

Jesus’ Spirit dwells in us (v. 17)

Jesus will not leave us as orphans (v. 18)

Jesus will come back for us (v. 18)

Jesus will always be seen by us because of His Spirit (v. 19)

Jesus will not be seen by the world (v. 19)

Jesus lives (v. 19)

Jesus’ life gives us life (v. 19)

Jesus’ return will confirm that He is in the Father (v. 20)

Jesus’ return will confirm that we are in Christ (v. 20)

Jesus’ return will confirm that Christ is in us (v. 20)

Jesus’ followers, who love Him, will be loved by the Father (v. 21)

Jesus loves those who love Him (v. 21)

Jesus will manifest Himself to those who love Him (v. 21)

Jesus tells us to keep His Word if we love Him (v. 23)

Jesus will indwell those who love Him (v. 23)

Jesus says those who do not love Him will not be able to keep His word (v. 24)

Jesus’ words are not His own, but His Father’s (v. 24)

Jesus’ Spirit is the Helper (v. 26)

Jesus Spirit is sent by the Father in Jesus’ name (v. 26)

Jesus’ Spirit teaches us (v. 26)

Jesus’ Spirit reminds us of Jesus’ teachings (v. 26)

Jesus gives peace (v. 27)

Jesus doesn’t give in the same way that the world gives (v. 27)

Jesus doesn’t want us to be troubled or afraid (v. 27)

Jesus’ departure to the Father initiates rejoicing (v. 28)

Jesus in human form is not as great as the Father is in His fullness (v. 28)

Jesus warns of the future (v. 29)

Jesus wants us to be ready for His return (v. 29)

Jesus is never overruled by the ruler of the world, Satan (v. 30)

Jesus does as the Father commands Him (v. 31)

Jesus’ works reveal that He loves the Father (v. 31)

 “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

– John 14:6 –

Questions for Today:

  • Do I trust Jesus when He reveals who He is to me in Scripture?
  • How can I allow the Holy Spirit to prepare me for what I will face in life?
  • Why is it that I can know the Father when I know Jesus, and vice-versa?
  • Does the way I talk and live proclaim that I love Jesus?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

“This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship

Getting to Know Jesus: John 21

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This passage found in John is very dear to my heart. It describes the encounter Peter has with Jesus after completely failing him by denying that he knew him, not just once but three times. I can relate to Peter in his humiliation. I bet he thought that Jesus couldn’t possibly even look at him after he had turned his back on his savior. But Jesus stuns him. Jesus does the opposite of what Peter expected. He lovingly approaches Peter. Lets him know that he is loved. Despite his failure. Despite his cowardice. Despite his faithlessness. In my life, there are many times when I do the same thing as Peter did. I deny I know Jesus by the things that I do. I deny I know Jesus by the words that come out of my mouth. I deny I know Jesus by the thoughts that I have. And the rooster crows three times. And I know I’ve messed up. Reading the gospel of John, especially this chapter, I’m finding that Jesus’ forgiveness is so unfathomable. How could One so perfect ever think of wanting to reestablish a relationship with one so imperfect? But this is the Jesus we get to know in the gospels. This is the Jesus we get to love. This is the Jesus we get to serve. This is our Jesus. He isn’t offended by our mistakes. Even when it’s a mistake that could easily wound His heart because of our unfaithfulness. But He sacrificially offers loving-kindness to us. And this unexpected grace rubs off on us…we are compelled to change. I love that Jesus is a radical forgiver. A radical lover. A radical friend. There is none like Him. Let us learn to embody His very nature in the way that we interact with others. Let us learn about Jesus together in this passage, John 21:1-25 and apply it to our lives. Jesus is our only hope. Our only source of life.

Summary of John 21:1-25

Jesus appears to the disciples after his death and resurrection, by the Sea of Tiberius; at dawn, Jesus stands on the shore while Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples go out to fish; they catch nothing; Jesus asks them if they have any fish, and then tells them to cast their nets on the right side of their boats; they catch an abundance of fish; John recognizes that it is Jesus who they see; Peter jumps into the sea and swims to the shore to see Jesus, while the others come to the shore on the boat with the haul of fish; Jesus had already prepared a fire for them to cook their fish; the net is not torn though it is filled full; Jesus tells them to come and have breakfast; none of the disciples would ask Him who He was, though they knew it was Jesus; it is listed as the third encounter the disciples have with the resurrected Jesus; after finishing breakfast, Jesus begins to ask Peter, “Do you love me?” a total of three times, each time giving Peter an instruction to follow; Jesus prophecies the way in which Peter will die but says to follow Him anyways; Peter asks what will happen to John, and Jesus says, “What’s it to you if He remains until my return?”; John verifies his testimony to these things that have happened; John explains that there were many other things that Jesus did that are too many to be recorded.

Jesus in John 21:1-25

Jesus reveals himself again (v. 1)

Jesus reveals Himself in a particular way (v. 1)

Jesus longs for us to see Him for who He truly is (v. 1)

Jesus waits at the shore (v. 4)

Jesus speaks with a parental concern (v. 5)

Jesus recognizes a need (v. 5)

Jesus offers the solution (v. 6)

Jesus’ solution exceedingly outweighs their expectations (v. 6 & 8)

Jesus is recognized by John, who calls himself the one that Jesus loves (v. 7)

Jesus’ presence causes Peter to hastily swim to meet Him (v. 7)

Jesus is not threatening to the one who has failed Him (v. 7)

Jesus prepared a means for them to utilize what He had already provided (fire for fish) (v. 9-10)

Jesus’ provision is meaningful to John, so that he records the very number of fish that were caught (v. 11)

Jesus wouldn’t let the net be torn (v. 11)

Jesus invites them to eat with Him (v. 12)

Jesus appears different in His resurrected form (v. 12)

Jesus initiates the meal with them (v. 13)

Jesus acts as the host (v. 13)

Jesus has revealed Himself to the disciples now three times (v. 14)

Jesus is still a little unfamiliar and unreal to the disciples even after seeing Him three times (v. 12 & 14)

Jesus continues to appear to the disciples though they wrestle with believing if it is really Him (v. 12 & 14)

Jesus must be radiantly different in his humanity and postresurrected body (v. 12 & 14)

Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him (v. 15)

Jesus tells Peter to feed His lambs (v. 15)

Jesus asks Peter again if he loves Him (v. 16)

Jesus tells Peter to tend to His sheep (v. 16)

Jesus asks Peter a third time if he loves Him (v. 17)

Jesus tells Peter again to feed His sheep (v. 17)

Jesus restores Peter of his denial of Him, bestowing forgiveness, love, and responsibility (v. 15-17)

Jesus isn’t afraid to use those who failed Him in the past (v. 15 – 17)

Jesus prophecies Peter’s death (v. 18)

Jesus calls Peter to follow Him no matter what (v. 19)

Jesus has a distinct plan for Peter and for John (v. 21-22)

Jesus performed many other acts that could not be all written down (v. 25)

 

“He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

– John 21:17 –

 

Questions for Today:

  • Do I recognize Jesus when He reveals Himself to me?
  • Assuming I’m in Peter’s position, how do I respond when Jesus asks me again if I love Him?
  • How can I let Jesus restore me in the areas that I have failed Him?
  • What next step can I take in my relationship with Jesus today?

 

 

Getting to Know Jesus: John 4

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I love reading the gospel of John because his gospel is a little different than the other three, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John’s gospel paints a portrait of the Savior Jesus as both the lion and the lamb. He is God incarnate. Human but divine. Powerful but humble. While the other three gospels also portray Jesus’ divinity and humanity, John’s gospel is laden with a theological overtone emphasizing the supremacy, authority, and purpose of Jesus’ time on earth. It reveals Jesus’ holiness. John’s gospel also includes many stories and passages that are not found in the other three gospels. John’s perspective is unique, fresh and compelling as a work of the Holy Spirit’s anointing. In particular, the story of the woman at the well found in John 4 is one of the stories unique to John’s gospel. It is the story of a Samaritan woman who meets Jesus and is forever changed. By looking closer at this story – and chapter 4 of John’s gospel altogether – we get a glimpse of Jesus in action during his 3 year ministry. Reaching out to the unassuming. Bringing hope to the one marked hopeless. Offering love. Offering life. This is Jesus.

 

Summary: John 4

In John 4, Jesus heads for Galilee with His disciples and travels through Samaria to get there; Jesus’ disciples go into town for food; Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well who is drawing water; He asks her for water and begins to have a conversation with her about God’s “living water,” that never runs dry; the woman believes that He could be the Messiah and runs to town to tell the others about Him; the disciples return just as the woman leaves and they are confused as to why he is talking to a woman; Jesus talks to the disciples about the harvest being ripe; many in the woman’s town begin to believe that Jesus is the Messiah; Jesus and his disciples arrive in Galilee and everybody believes Him, but only because they have seen his miracles; Jesus heals the son of a royal official.

 You can also read John chapter 4 here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4&version=HCSB

Jesus in John 4:1-54

Jesus travels with a purpose (v. 4)

Jesus was human. He got tired too (v. 6)

Jesus is waiting for us at “the well” (v. 6-8)

Jesus is unafraid to talk to those who society labels as “other” (v. 7-9)

Jesus wants to give us life (v. 10)

Jesus wants us to realize how much we need Him (v. 10)

Jesus is honest with us (v. 13)

Jesus helps us to see the reality of our situation (v. 13)

Jesus cares about our condition (v. 13-14)

Jesus is the eternal well of life (v. 14)

Jesus gives continually (v. 14)

Jesus changes our heart (v. 15)

Jesus knows everything (v. 16-18)

Jesus tells us that He already knows our situation, but doesn’t condemn us (v. 18)

Jesus teaches us about worship (v. 21-24)

Jesus is already here (v. 25-26)

Jesus is the Messiah (v. 26)

Jesus amazes us (v. 28-29)

Jesus is funny (v. 32)

Jesus doesn’t worry about earthly needs (v. 32)

Jesus desires to do the will of God above all else (v. 34)

Jesus is faithful (v. 34)

Jesus sees potential (v. 35)

Jesus is confident (v. 35)

Jesus turns optimism into a reality (v. 35-36)

Jesus is always looking to harvest and save people (v. 35-36)

Jesus spends time with people (v. 40)

Jesus’ words prompt our belief in Him (v. 41-42)

Jesus is the One we look to (v. 47)

Jesus wants us to believe even when we don’t see signs and miracles (v. 48)

Jesus still heals even when he knows our faith is weak (v. 50)

Jesus’ words are powerful (v. 53)

 

“Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” –John 4:10- (The Message)

 

 

Questions for today:

  • What “water” in my life am I holding onto in place of Jesus’ living water?
  • Where is my faith weak?
  • How can I put more trust in Jesus?
  • What about Jesus stood out to me?
  • How can I let these attributes of Jesus shape the way I view Him from now on?
  • What practical step can I take to become more like Jesus today?