John 12 is the pivot point in John's public defense of Jesus. The hinge of John 12 is something that you cannot miss because it shows you what you must do if you really understand who Christ is. If you don't feel that you are in need of Christ as much as your most villified enemy, you are missing the point. And if you've understood what he said, you understand that Jesus is all that he claims to be.
No Mean Love
The Sovereignty of God in the Sabotage of Judas
When Jesus Took Up the Towel and Loved us to the Uttermost
Israel and You: A Good Example or a Horrible Warning
For This Purpose He Came: Unveiling God's Glory in His Humiliation
John: Where We've Been and Our Intention Moving Forward
A Perfect Message if you "Wish to see Jesus"
King Jesus: Why the Leaders Missed Him, Why You Must Not
Albert: A Living Picture of Lazarus a Man Once Dead
Lazarus: A Dead Man Who Becomes a Picture of Life
The Pivot Point That Is Personal Belief and The Rightness of Radical Response
What Should and Shouldn't Matter To You
Jesus versus the Ultimate Predator
The Reason for Everything and How We are to Respond to It
The Identity of the Good Shepherd and the Attributes of His Sheep
The Good Shepherd: What He is Doing, Why He is Doing It, and How it's Going to Get Done
A Blind Man You'd Better See Yourself In
Sons, Slaves and Freedom Indeed
Gang, I just want to tell you. We can't invite you to come to church, because we believe the church is people. We invite you to hang out with the church and we invite you to come to Watermark. Watermark is what we call this community of friends who love each other, who want to "…encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
Watermark is what we call the body of Christ here locally, but the church is who we are. We're part of those people who God has called "…out of darkness into His marvelous light…" We want to invite you to run with us. There are all kinds of ways you can do that. Our desire is not you just gather here at Watermark but that you live with us as the church.
Inside the Watermark News is all kinds of information that will help you do that. If you have friends who want to be equipped in the faith or frankly be put before some of the greatest intellectual thinkers who are men of faith today, check out that little deal, Contending with Christianity's Critics, on the back. It's now open to the public, so we invite folks to join us. It's going to be one of the most amazing things we can get to be a part of this entire next year. I hope that you intentionally make yourself a part of that.
You see all of the kinds of chances to connect in the back from games night, from married couples, to an opportunity to connect in Community Groups with single folks, to the new series starting on Tuesday night with our friends at The Porch, which is going to be awesome, down to just letting us know how we can serve you on a regular basis.
Man, when you're ready, that little perforated section inside your News is the thing to rip off and to fill out and to let us know how we can come alongside of you. If you're experiencing grief, there's a way that we want to come alongside of you. If your marriage needs to move forward, there's a way we want to come alongside of you. All that is there, and we invite you to check it out and to be a part of us.
Listen, I've said this for a long time, and I want to repeat it this morning. We've always said that the most important people at Watermark are the next hundred people who come. It's because those next hundred people who come are so incredibly important. I can support that almost biblically. Luke 15, talks about how Jesus leaves the 99 to go get the one and leaves the nine coins he has to go find the one and leaves the one son who is there, maybe not enjoying him in his fullness, to find the one who has gone.
My point is that God seeks and saves the lost, so we in part are to do the same. The most important people at Watermark are the next hundred people who come, but let me just say this. It's because those next hundred people are so important that we spend so much time investing in you who are here. Because you're the means through which the next hundred are going to be reached and encouraged and brought in and loved and made thirsty and made curious.
So we want to disciple you, connect with you, pray for you, encourage you, shepherd you. If you're here and you're just attending Watermark but not a part of the church, you're already close to us, but we care to connect you to the body that God is going to use to exalt the head. So jump in with us and help us effectively gather so when we scatter in smaller clusters we can be effectively what he wants us to be.
Now let me say this to those of us who are already here and a part of God's family. I want to ask you this. If every single person who you invited to church this week, invited to Watermark this week to be a part of the church… If every single person who you prayed for who was far from God turned into a radical, devoted follower…
If every person who came with you this morning because you risked all your relational credibility and all your personal trust and the intentionality of your friendship turned into them responding to your invitation and everybody you invited this morning came and became a devoted, fully-committed disciple of Jesus Christ, how many more people would be fully committed followers of Christ this week?
If it's just the same group that was here last week and we're not multiplying and being fruitful, then something is not as it should be. Because from the very beginning this has never been about us. We haven't tried to build a place that's great for us, comfortable for us, good for us, likable to us. I mean it should be all those things, but all those things so we could grow in an unhindered way, encourage each other, and really fully express what God intends for us so that we can then be what God wants us to be, which is salt and light. "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…"
So let me just say this again. If we're not actively praying and engaging every individual who we get a chance to, then something is not as it should be and we have to double down on discipleship. We've always said we're going to measure our effectiveness by our ability to be and make disciples.
So we're always praying about what the most effective thing is that we can do to reach more folks and be what God wants us to be as his community. So the first thing is make sure we are discipling one another and caring for one another in all the ways that we should. So be spurred on this morning and get connected in deep and intentional ways. Look in the Watermark News for the next step you need to take to be equipped, to be encouraged, and to be loved so that you might be unleashed in every way as a disciple should be.
As we've been thinking about this, we know that the most effective way to reach people and make disciples is through the church, so let me just share a couple of things with you, and these are two very separate discussions. One, you might remember about four years ago, a guy who was on our staff wanted to go and reach more folks, make some disciples, up in the Denver area.
He asked if he could take our name. It wasn't a church plant. It wasn't underneath our elders, but we said, "Yeah, use the name Watermark," and took everything we gave him, from resources that we did invest because we wanted to make disciples in that way to belief systems and philosophy of ministry. I can celebrate with you that God really used that for a number of years.
I was meeting with a number of folks who were reached and discipled through that ministry for several years. When I was up there teaching in Denver/Bolder area just a number of weeks ago and they said, "Todd, we really want to let you know. This blessed our socks off." But there is nothing called Watermark Denver anymore, and the reason why is that staff person has chosen to go minister somewhere else and those folks have been infused into three different works up in that area that we're excited about.
It's never been about the name Watermark up there, especially because it was a little bit confusing because it wasn't us, but I have relationships with some of those churches. I was teaching at one of them. That's where I was, just continuing to make disciples and building the people up in that area and come alongside Watermark Dallas folks who have been up there in that church and who are now in others, because we're always about growing and making disciples.
But that being said, one of the reasons we were okay with that and frankly excited about that is it's always been on our mind that someday there would be other Watermark expressions of ministry that were a part of our ministry. I want to share with you this morning something really exciting.
Sometime in 2013, we're going to become one church with two campuses. There won't be a mother ship and a satellite. There'll be one church meeting in two different places. One right here in Dallas right where we are, loving the folks here, and another one in Fort Worth. We're going to head over in that direction, and the reason is a number of folks from our community have moved over that way.
It's also a number of folks that I and others have relationships with as I teach other places who have always said, "We would love to take the philosophy of ministry and the passion for ministry that we've experienced in Dallas when we're with you guys and really share that with the Fort Worth community that we're invested in loving and that God has us here now."
I've been over to Fort Worth. I've met with pastors in that area who we have relationships with who we love that we honor their ministry. We just want to say, "Hey listen, guys. You need to know something. Two things. First, we don't believe the world needs Watermark. We believe the world needs Jesus. Secondly, we're not coming over here because we think every church over here is ineffective. We're coming because we believe there are folks here who aren't reached."
They said, "Hey listen, Todd. There are about just from right where we are in this five-mile radius about 40,000 people who we know don't have any connection with any kind of spiritual life and spiritual body. If every single one of them believed, they couldn't come here, so jump in with us."
So we're jumping in, and we're going to take our resources, we're going to take our staff, and we're going to take our people, and we're going to use our relationships, and we're going to start something in Fort Worth as soon as all that can be aligned. We think it'll be sometime in 2013 and I share that with you this morning because we want to let you know if you have relationships with folks in Fort Worth, we'll start doing what we did in Dallas 12 years ago: meeting with folks, having coffees, inviting them into the privilege of ministering with us.
We're not going to go over there and do something for them. We're going to go over there and with them make disciples. We're not going to ask them to attend something. We're going to ask them to be something, just like we do you. So if you have any relationship in Fort Worth, then let us know. Just take that little Watermark News, that perforated section, write your name, your contact info as you always do, and just write, "Fort Worth, I have friends."
We'll follow up with you this week and we'll begin to assimilate them and we'll give you regular updates on how that's going. This will be the very first time you have a true Watermark, and that's why it's really kind of nice that there is that other separation from letting someone use the name to now there being no confusion. One church, two locations. We think down the road when we fully maximize and use this facility right here there'll be other opportunities to have multiple campuses even in the Dallas area, the northern areas, the western areas, the eastern areas.
Right now, we're going to just continue to use this until we go, "Hey, we have to ask 1,500 of you guys to join ex-staff member over here and make room for other folks in this area who we can reach," but that's coming years down the road. We're going to continue to milk everything we can from this facility right now, but Fort Worth is coming.
So the reason we do that, just so you know. Church plants have about a 20 percent success rate. Churches that spin off to other campuses have about an 80 percent hit rate of really gaining traction and being the most effective way to reach folks and to grow people into full devotion for Christ. That's why we're doing this. That's why we're excited. We get to all invest together and include our friends who are over there.
Hey, that's good news, right? You got a chance this week already to reach folks right here and we're going to have a chance together to be intentional about gathering with folks over in that area, all for the purpose of scattering that we might be more effective. Meanwhile, there are some folks sitting right next to you right now who would love for you to not be scatterbrained when you say, "Hello." So why don't you stand up and greet one another? We're glad you're here.
Lord, thank you so much for a chance to get together. Thank you for the truth that's been declared this morning already through song and melody. How great it is to be in here and remind each other of the greatness of our God. If we know how great you are, then everything about us is going to want to be poured out in response.
I thank you for the example in the text this morning that we're going to see. Would you use it to remind everybody who is here who is a part of the church to see how they ought to live and respond? Would you use it to allow those who attend the place where the church is to be fearful that they would miss an intimate relationship with the greatness of the God who has revealed himself most fully in Jesus Christ? I pray in Christ's name, amen.
Well, open your Bible with me to John 11. We'll look at the very end of that chapter and dive quickly into John 12. Let me just tell you what's going on. John 1 through 11 is really a public declaration. We have seven signs that have been shown by John: these are evidences for you that this Jesus is not just a mere prophet, not just another rabbi. He is very God of very God.
No man had seen God at any time until we saw Jesus. We now have seen the visible image of the invisible God. The very person of God is there in our midst. So he does everything that God would do. That's what John is doing. It is a polemic. It is a public defense. We're going to start, not long from now, in John 13 through 17.
What you're going to find out is that the public ministry of Jesus is about to be over. We're just a little over halfway through this book, and it's going to go all private. By the way, there are about seven days left in this book. From really chapter 12 on, you're in the last week. Does that tell you that what happened at the end of this guy's life has some significance if John is telling you about the greatness of who God is revealed through Jesus Christ?
He spends half of his work right there in that last little week of his life. We're going to start that last week. Six days before his crucifixion starts right here in John 12. Now right there, that little hinge in John 12, between the public declaration and the private discourse and encouragement, there is something that you cannot miss.
It is absolutely paramount that you get what goes on in John 12, because it is a personal response. The way you move forward and benefit from that last week is you personally say, "This is the guy. This is the Anointed One. This is the Messiah. This is the King. This is the one who I want to be in relationship with. If I want to know God, I have to know him." So chapter 12 shows you exactly what you ought to do if you buy in to what we've been talking about these last 38 weeks in John. Are you ready?
Now let me just set this up. He has already been basically rejected by the nation. So one of the things that you're going to see that Christ does, it goes well with what I've already said earlier in the service today, is that he went away from that central operating place. Even when he moved away from Jerusalem kind of epicenter of the religion of the day which he said was a bastardized religion that men were trying to in their own righteousness approach God. You're going to see that that is not how you are related to God.
Men don't approach God on their righteousness. God approaches men in their brokenness, and he restores them, redeems them, and reconciles them to himself. He does what only God can do. John 11 is a great… We are dead. We are unable to fellowship with Jesus. Unless Jesus calls us out back into relationship with him, we are lost.
Paul said it this way, "…you were dead in your trespasses and sins…" Here he has come calling us to know him. Now what happens is that Jesus goes off to Ephraim. In John 11:54, that's exactly what it said. It said, "Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews…" There's a shift now.
It says, "…but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples." What he is going to do is pour himself into those who believe. This he keeps declaring who he is. He keeps praying for the people. He keeps offering to others intimacy and relationship with him, but he says, "Look, that's going to be your job, church."
I think that there is what you might call typology here. I think there's a picture here, which is basically this. You take the wilderness, the desert area, away from where we expect to see all vitality and life and you put God in the middle of it, and it becomes fruitful. That's what Ephraim means in its root. Fruitful.
He is going to go away, if you will, from Israel into a wilderness of pagan belief, and he is going to produce a fruitful people who will live for him and follow him and enjoy him until that day that Israel locks in. That guy who is producing peace and joy and love and life and hope with the godless Gentiles? He was the guy.
That is God's intention now, that we, as the church, would enjoy Christ. I said it before. If you're going to be a good Christian, you'd better get Jewish. You'd better learn to love the Jewish Messiah. That's who Jesus is. We worship a physical Jew who is a visible image of the invisible God who is the Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. That's who Jesus is.
If you're going to be a good Jew, you'd better love the Messiah, which means you'd better be a follower of the Christ. Another word for that is Christian. This Jesus is going to go into the wilderness of unbelief, of darkness and vapid spirituality. Didn't exist…paganism. He is going to call out a new people, and they're going to bear fruit for him.
What you find now is that Jesus is going to move back into the place that he had left just a little bit earlier, so we know the end is near. Let's go to John 12:1. Watch this. This is good stuff. "Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead."
This is about two miles east of Jerusalem. Just over the Mount of Olives back to the east, there is this little town called Bethany. It's where Lazarus lived. It's where he had raised him from the dead. It's where Martha was. It's where Mary was. There's another guy who lived there. His name was Simon the Leper.
Now Simon the Leper (and he is not Simon the Leper anymore. He is Simon the ex-leper.) also lived in that region. A lot of people confuse this story with a story in Luke 7. Let's go. I want to read Luke 7, to you and I'm going to show you why they mistake this. I'm going to show you why it's almost appropriate that they mistake it, because there is going to be an important truth that comes out of what both of these Marys do.
Look at Luke 7, verses 37 through 39. Now look, this is not the same story. The story that we're going to find in John 12 is also found in Matthew 26, and Mark 14, but here in Luke 7, it sounds the same except it's in Galilee and it's not at Simon the ex-leper's house. It's at Simon the Pharisee's house. It's not Mary the sister of Lazarus at his feet. It's Mary Magdalene, most folks think. Mary the prostitute, not Mary the righteous. Watch this.
"And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He [Jesus] was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume."
I guarantee Mary of Bethany, Mary the righteous, if I could use that phrase, knew that story. I want to just stop right here and let you know that I think it is beautiful what she did. One of my favorite things that has happened at Watermark in the last little bit has been what happened to me after Easter. I've shared this right around Easter. I got done doing five different Easter services. It was late on a Sunday.
I was standing here to talk to everybody. I couldn't. There was one little gal who was just rotating off of me here in the background. She waited until everybody was done, and then she walked up to me in a tender little voice. She said, "Pastor Todd, can I talk to you for a minute?" I said, "Absolutely." One of the gals who stands with me up here kind of sat alongside of me when she came up.
She said, "I just wanted to thank you for the way that God has used this community, you, this community of friends who love Jesus to love someone like me." She went on to tell me her story that she was a working prostitute who had lived in our community, who had come to the end of herself, and crying out to God found herself here. Nobody invited her. She just knew of this place.
She had actually jumped on the Internet and cried out to God, "Where can I get to know you?" Through her profession, she had become pregnant, and she was broken. She said, "I will not be a good mother so I have to get this child who is coming into the world around people who will love it correctly."
She said, "I came here a number of months ago, and I have now come to follow Jesus. I am no longer a working prostitute, but I sat in here and the very first Sunday I walked in, I was warmly greeted. I came in. I sat next to a gal." I shared this piece before. She sat next to a gal, sweet Sylvia.
Sylvia just greeted her and was loving on her as they first sat. Didn't really get to know much about her, but as the worship service started… Sylvia grew up in a very religious home. I say religious. Not really a home of biblical faith because she had been told from the time she was a little girl, she'd better cross her T's and dot her I's and she'd better do what God wants her to do and she'd better be a good little girl, because if she's not a good little girl, God won't love her.
When she came here, she understood grace. She came to understand that God was not going to love her because she was beautiful and righteous, but God was going to love her because in her lost imperfect state, he still cared for her in her legalism, in her worry, in her fear, and he wanted to rescue her from that.
They sat right next to each other right here, and we were singing, "How He Loves Us." It's a song we sang last week. Sylvia leaned over in the middle of that song with tears streaming down her face as a woman who was in her own effort and righteousness, frustrated, scared, beaten, worn out, ready to give up, had found Christ and understood his love for her and found the freedom in that.
She was overwhelmed with his love. She reached over and she grabbed the hand of another girl whose face was streaming. First time she came, this prostitute who thought no way could a righteous and loving God ever care for her, ever forgive her, ever reach out to her, ever speak words of comfort and grace and forgiveness. She was crying because she was overwhelmed. "Oh, how he loves us."
She reached over and grabbed her hand and the two of them sat right here, tears streaming down their faces, and raised their hands together. Two sinners desperately receiving the grace of God. I think what you have in Mary… Mary is a friend of Jesus Christ. She is a follower of his. There is nothing in the record that ever says Mary did anything but sit at the feet of Jesus.
This woman understood who she was and who God was. The standard to be reconciled to God is this, "Be perfect like God is perfect," and whatever Mary was, she knew she was not that. Mary the righteous of Bethany was like Sylvia. She needed a Savior. Mary the Prostitute in Luke 7 was like Cyntia. She needed a Savior. There isn't one of us in this room who doesn't need that Savior.
I'll share this story. It's one of my favorite stories that I share a lot. It's the story of a pastor in England who had in his leadership a member of the high court of England. They were offering Communion to their people one day. As they came up, actually this gentleman who was a distinguished, well-educated, well-thought-of member of the church and the community came up and knelt at the rail. Next to him, there was another gentleman.
As the pastor and his elder friend walked home, the elder said to the pastor, "Did you see who took Communion next to me today?" The pastor said, "Yes, what an amazing act of grace and picture of God's love." The elder, the judge, the respected man said to the pastor, "Well, what do you mean?"
He goes, "I saw who it was. It was one of the criminals in our community who you actually convicted in your career, who you sent to jail. While he was in jail, that man came to know Christ, and I just marveled that God would take that man and would bring him to our church, reconcile with God, reconcile with you, and the two of you would receive the grace of God together."
The elder said, "No, no, no. It was an amazing picture of grace, but I wasn't talking about him. I was talking about me." The pastor said, "What do you mean?" He goes, "Look, it's no surprise to me that guy was there seeking forgiveness from Christ. From his earliest days, he was a wretch and a broken man, a vile contemptible man who no one loved and no one liked. He was broken. He always knew of his depravity and darkness.
It's no wonder to me that that man saw Jesus, but me, I grew up in a respectable family. I was raised in this church. From my earliest days, I learned stories of God and his goodness and kindness to me. I never really did anything that was that immoral. I made my way through school in a noble way. I didn't cheat. I worked hard. Everybody always told me what a good boy I was. The fact that God could show me of my desperate need for a Savior, that is grace."
I love that story. Because whether you're Sylvia or Cyntia, you need to know. Whether you're Mary Magdalene the prostitute or whether you're Mary of Bethany, always at the feet of Jesus, until you understand if God doesn't die for you, if he doesn't become your substitutionary atonement, if he does not impute to you his righteousness, your righteousness is as filthy rags.
If you have filthy rags, it doesn't matter because that's what your righteousness is apart from Christ. Am I clear on that? It's ironic to me that people confuse these two stories, but I don't think Mary of Bethany, who we're about to study, was confused. I think she knew exactly what was going on in that first story and she said, "I am just as indebted to you as that prostitute."
Can I suggest something to you this morning? If you're here and you don't think that you're as indebted as your least favorite dark-souled unrepentant family member or friend or acquaintance or celebrated villain in the media, you are not paying attention. That is why… When we come here, I hear it all the time. "That's a pretty church."
Let me tell you something. This is not a pretty church. This is a saved church. This is a group of people that there is nothing in us that we're taking to God and saying, "Look, oh how he should love us." That's not what we sing here. We are a group of folks who understand that we have a Savior entered into the world to save men and women like us.
By the grace of God, maybe we've been restrained from some forms of evil, although if you get to know us? We haven't been very restrained for very long. You know? I tell folks. I bet you I've said this 10 times over the 12 years we've existed. Look, if you knew the truth about me, you wouldn't come here, but if we knew the truth about you, we wouldn't let you in. So we're even is the way I look at it.
That doesn't mean I'm living a duplicitous life right now, but the truth is inside me, the thoughts that wash over my mind? I just can't believe them. The things I've done, the words I've spoken, the selfishness that has existed in me and that I have to continually depend on Christ to not have executed into reality in my life is an awful thing.
Let me just tell you something. Your pastor, which I am grateful to be, desperately needs a Savior. I depend on him. I walk on him. I hope that I do what Mary of Bethany does. You might see yourself as Mary Magdalene and I hope you know you need a Savior. I want to tell you, the Savior who is good for me is good for you. The Savior who is necessary for you is necessary for me. Amen?
Now to preach right there. It is true. While some people confuse these two Marys, don't you be confused. So six days before, it says Jesus is going to show up. Now this had to be a meal, okay, that was something… It says Jesus was heading to his cross right there in verse 1. Verse 2, it says therefore. That's what the word so means, "So they made Him a supper there…" They wanted to celebrate him.
Some people translate that second word… In fact, if you read in the ESV, it says, "…they gave…" This was a celebratory dinner. Let me ask you a question. If you used to be a leper, you were a walking dead man ostracized from society, you could not live among the living, and Jesus healed you completely, you think you'd like him a little bit?
How about if you were dead for four days? How about if your brother… You're an unmarried older woman, Martha and Mary. Your brother was dead, and God whistled him out of the grave? You think you'd be rather excited about Jesus? That is who was at this meal. Simon the ex-leper, Lazarus the ex-dead, Mary and Martha the ex-mourners, and there is a little bit of partying going on.
Think about who you could have over at your house that you would be that… This isn't a guy who wrote a song that you liked on the radio and you'd be fired up if he came over. This is the guy who pulled you out of death and leprosy, so you're going to celebrate. I think what you're about to see is a premeditated act.
At the same time, I think what you're about to see is a spontaneous response. It's a complete and right response. If you want one verse that captures what a personal response to the Savior ought to be, it's Romans 12:1, where in light of Romans 1 through 11, just like in light of all that's happened in John 1 through 11, it says this.
"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of…" the loving, living God, who takes your leprosy, your corrupt flesh, and nature and makes it white as snow, who takes your death and your trespasses and sins and brings you to newness of life. You then, "…present your bodies [everything you have] a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."
In other words, it is the only right and reasonable thing to do if this is who John says he is, Simon believes he is, Lazarus believes he is, and Martha and Mary are familiar with, then you give him your all. You're going to see an absolute biblical spiritually right response. Here's my question to you.
I don't care if you're Sylvia or Cyntia. If you're not responding in a way that's similar to what you're about to see, something hasn't really connected. Before we came out here, I was with the folks who were up here leading us and celebrating God, and I just said, "Look, this is an awful day for us, in a sense, because we've been singing songs before you get here for about an hour and a half."
I get here early. I listen to them and just let it encourage my heart. They're out here making sure that they lead you in a way that's not disruptive, out of tune, misguided. We have already been declaring before we even come up here with you for hours about the greatness of our God, and we're back there saying, "It's hard for us to get right even though we sing about it before we even lead you in singing about it."
Can you imagine folks who are rushing in here frustrated with each other at home, some who haven't meditated on him all week and we want them to participate with us fully? The week I wasn't here, I was teaching up in Denver. I watched the service online, and I don't know if you remember. It started with a video. I'm watching this thing. The video has my voice on it.
The video is, "It wouldn't have mattered." I talk about all the things that are true biblically and about Jesus and say, "It wouldn't have mattered if he was not the death, the resurrection, and the life. If he hadn't died and was the resurrection and the life." I'm sitting there listening, "That's my voice. When did I…?" I don't even remember making that video.
That's a video I had made years earlier. I literally rewound it and thought, "I did make that video." I thought to myself, "What is worse, people who don't believe in a God who raises people from the dead or people who forget that God who know that God raised them from the dead?" I thought to myself, "Todd, it's not really a problem that you forgot you made that video. It's really a problem that sometimes you live like you forgot that he is worth making a video about." That's my problem.
See, I want to tell you, the biggest problem in America today is not folks who don't believe in the resurrection. It's people who say they believe in the resurrection who live as if they don't. So Mary and Lazarus and Simon the ex-leper, they knew what was going on. Now watch this. This is simple. This is very simple. Anybody can read this text and get this out of this. Okay?
"…Martha was serving…" You're going to see that there are three examples of… She was doing work. It says in Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 16, "And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." It's not like Mary is the hero here and Martha isn't. Martha is using her gifts to serve at this particular moment, and it's a pleasing sacrifice poured out in the kitchen for him. Then you're going to have another one.
It says, "…Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table…" You can go look at Lazarus's life. In fact, if you jump down it says that, "…on account of him [Lazarus] many of the Jews were…believing in Jesus." And don't you think so? Lazarus didn't have to do anything but show up at the local Starbucks and have people go, "Weren't you dead? You don't look dead. You don't stink like you did those two or three days before we sealed you in that tomb." He was a powerful testimony.
So you have Mary. Martha is a picture of the work. You have Lazarus, who was a picture of witness. By the way, there is not a single word recorded in the Scripture that Lazarus ever says. Yet he is a powerful witness. By the way, it says in John 10 that John the Baptist never did a miracle and yet many came to believe in Jesus because his words about him were true.
I don't really care what your story… All of us ought to be both like John the Baptist and Lazarus. Our words about Jesus ought to be true and our lives ought to just… When we show up there is a different aroma. We don't stink like we used to. There is a light in our eyes. I've seen people here who literally, you can roll back the physical look on their life.
They have become softer and kinder and gentler and more beautiful physically since they've trusted Christ. Some of us have known Christ for a long time and we're still ugly, just physically. There's nothing you can do about it. What I'm saying is when you find folks who are living a rebellious hard life, you see that edginess, that hardness, that anger, and you find Christ come in that softness.
It doesn't make them all of a sudden look like, "pick your favorite supermodel," when they're not, but I'm talking about their countenance, their spirit. They become lovely and beautiful. You ought to be like Lazarus. If folks don't look at your life and go, "What life has poured into you?" then something isn't as it should be.
If folks don't see you working to honor Christ because of your love for him and what he has done? Something isn't right. If folks don't see you doing what Mary is about to do, something isn't right. These are personal responses to a public testimony that then invites you into private encouragement and transformation. You'd better get your John 12 before you go to John 13. Watch what she does.
It says, "Mary then [therefore] took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." Man, there is a ton here. Let me just say this. Mary couldn't stand it. She was overwhelmed. There was no command for her to do what she did.
Mary didn't have to do what she did, but she had to do what she did. She couldn't not do what she did in light of who she understood was there at the table. "That's my dead brother who is alive. That's Simon who grew up when he was a leper. He is no longer a leper." They were throwing a party to celebrate Jesus. Their lives were about celebrating Jesus.
She went and she got what is a year's worth of work. It represented her beauty, her glory. If you had this… Nard was like about 12 ounces of solid substance which comes from northern India. Scholars would tell you that about 50 parts of water to one part of nard would just light up a room. It's what separated you from the common class. It's what made you an aristocrat, a beautiful person. This is a lifetime of savings.
She just took it, she dumped water on it, all of it, and she just poured it at his feet. Let me just tell you something. She understood everything she had was his. "This is my King. This is God in my house. This is God in my life, and everything I have is his. I am a steward. This is the moment for me to do what I have to do. This is the only moment I have."
She was going to make sure she stewarded it all. She was intimate lover of Jesus. Women, their long hair was called their glory. First Corinthians 11, picks that idea up. It was the source of her beauty. It was the source of her femininity. Jewish women did not let their hair down in public. You let your hair down with your man.
Now Mary of Bethany and Jesus I'm not saying were physical lovers. I'm saying she loved him. She was his bride. By faith, joined, just like I am. I let it all down with Jesus. I get naked and intimate with Jesus. I take whatever is mine and I go, "It is yours." I take whatever is a source of my glory and I go, "No, it is nothing compared to you." Let me show you this idea. In Philippians, chapter 3, verses 7 and following. This is what it says right here as Paul is talking about… He says,
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
"I want to know Jesus and I count everything about me as rubbish and I lay it at his feet." You take whatever is best of us. It deserves to be thrown at his feet, what is least impressive about him. She uses her glory as a rag. You know what Isaiah 64 says? It says that your best, most glorious deeds are as filthy rags to him. That is a reference there to rags that are used to help women have hygiene at the highest need of their month.
You really have nothing to give to God, and Mary knew it. "I don't have much, but I have all." That's what she gave. She gave everything. She gave her best. She didn't go and get some Avon out of a unicorn to dump at his feet. I had a racecar filled with some nasty formaldehyde-smelling stuff my grandma gave me. I would be happy to pour that at any of your feet if you want it.
That's not what was going on here. Okay? This is the best she has and dumped down before him. That's what you do. You give your all. You give your best. You lay your glory, because that is where all your glory comes from. It is no longer mine. It is his. What is glorious to me is despicable to him, but what is despicable to the world is glorious to me.
She becomes a slave. She washes his feet. She says, "I am yours." If you are not a bondservant of Christ, if you don't have this mindset of Mary, you are not clued in to who he is. I just want to say, if you're still trying to figure out how to carve off for God a piece, if you're still trying to figure out if a tithe is 10 percent net or gross, you have missed who your King is.
If you are begrudging in your worship, if you are still having some token little study of Bible reading during the week, you have missed who this Jesus is in John 1 through 11. I mean, you ought to dive into him. Can I tell you this too? That people who sit at his feet know what no one else knows.
Mary was clued in on Jesus. Judas, you're going to find out in a moment, wasn't. What she did was an offense to him. Let me say it this way too. I could say it just the other way around. People who know what others don't, sit at his feet. If you know who Jesus is, you run to him. You long to be near him. You sit with him every chance you get.
You're not forced to go to church. You're not jumping in here to earn righteousness. You are giving a right response in everything you do with your very best. You're not holding back a piece. You're not holding back your thought life, your entertainment life. You're not holding back anything from him in terms of personal pet sins or personal protection and comfort in terms of economy.
You just go, "What do you need? What do you need?" We're going to set something up to love kids. "What do you need?" We're going to set something else in another place, have another campus where folks can hear about Jesus. "What do you need?" We're going to keep ministering to each other and loving folks here. "What do you need?" We're going to feed the poor in this community. "What do you need?"
You give it all, and you do it joyfully because this is your moment. Now what happens when you live this way? You're going to offend people. It seems crazy. Paul said this. "For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God…" If people think I'm crazy, it's because people go, "God is worth a radical and crazy response." This is 2 Corinthians 5:13, 14, and 15. Paul said, "For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you."
What Mary did filled up that whole room. Everybody in that room. Lazarus, Simon the ex-leper, even Judas benefited from the beauty of seeing the worth of God. That is the way your life ought to be. Another application. Are you ready? If where you live and how you live doesn't light up the room with a fragrant aroma, something isn't right.
My wife is always saying to me, "I am concerned about the aroma in our house," and she is not talking about the fact that there are four males there who are sweating more and more as they grow older. She is saying the way we speak to each other, love each other, care for each other, and the way we welcome people. I want it to be a fragrant aroma for Jesus.
We are his people and folks ought to be around the Wagner family and go, "This is right. It is just…" People ought to want to be around you. She is right. It ought to be like Mrs. Baird's Bread bakery down there on Mockingbird when it was still open. You just go down there just to walk the streets because it smelled good. I might've gone to SMU just to be near Mrs. Baird's Bread bakery had I known it was there.
That's exactly the way that we ought to be. People ought to get around us and go, "Man, there is something right about this place. Who are you people?" Fill up the room! Your life ought to be like that. Now watch this. Let me wrap it up. Judas didn't like this. When you live a devoted life, whether you're Lazarus… It says nonbelievers wanted to kill Lazarus. Why?
Because if you're not going to accept evidence, you have to get rid of the evidence. If no amount of evidence is going to convert you, then we have to just get rid of the evidence and say, "We can't even talk about that. Intelligent design? We're not going to talk about it. We're going to only focus on this. Not allowed in schools because we think that's just an inroad to faith."
Well, it might be. Because where there is inexplicable order, it speaks of an intelligent designer, not, "Nothing plus time plus chance." So you have a suppression of that. Why? Because when you don't want evidence, you have to get rid of evidence. You have a blind man from birth who can see? Let's expel him from the temple. We have a dead man called out of the tomb? Let's kill him.
There are going to be people who are increasingly offended at your faith and hope, but Jesus says this. He could've just told Judas, "Leave her alone." He didn't. He says three things. In verse 7, Jesus, speaking to Judas, says, "Let her alone…""Don't you rebuke her. First," "…so that she may keep it for the day of My burial." Secondly, "For you always have the poor with you…" Thirdly, "…but you do not always have Me."
"So, Judas, you'd better let her do what she is doing right now because it's a testimony to you that I am worth extravagant, intimate servitude and worship. If you don't figure that out right now, you have trouble coming, Judas." Secondly, and Jesus didn't say the poor don't matter. He said, "You can always care for the poor."
Mark 14:7 spells that out. Same passage, same text. He just says right there, "For you always have the poor with you…""If it pleases you to care for them, you can have at it. But right now, you'd better make sure that whatever you do, you love and serve me because this is your life and your moment with me." I like that first statement. Watch this.
"Let her alone…" Why? "…so that she may keep it for the day of My burial." I think this. I think what Jesus has in mind there is, "Look, if you think she had a hard time when her brother was in the tomb and she ran out to meet me… She said, 'What were you thinking?' and I said, 'Mary, look at me. Do you believe? I'm the resurrection and the life. Hang in there with me.' She says, 'I believe, but he is long dead.'" And he showed her that he was the resurrection and the life?
What he is saying is, "Mary is worshipping me. I'm going to let her because she is right to worship me because I am the resurrection and the life. Mary, you keep doing it. You are worshipping God. So when I am dead and I'm in the tomb, you hold onto me." You know what's interesting? Let me show you this. Mark 16, verse 1. Fast-forward eight days.
Saturday night after the Passover, "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene [Luke 7, the ex-prostitute] , and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him." Who is not there? Who is not going to anoint the dead body of their son and their Deliverer? Mary of Bethany.
She said, "You girls go on. I sat at his feet and I listened. He is the resurrection and the life. He isn't going to stay dead. He used to tell us when I sat at his feet, 'I'm going to be crucified and on the third day raised to life.' I've already anointed him. I know who he is, so I'm not going to see him when he is dead, because he isn't dead. He is alive. I'll catch him Sunday morning."
This is a woman who understood, and she had hope. I want to tell you something. If you're not a radical worshipper like she was, you will not have the hope that Mary does. Everybody else was panicked. Not Mary. She knew he was the resurrection and the life. Are you panicked? Pay attention to John 11. Be like Mary in John 12 and know that he loves sinners and he loves you. Trust him.
Father, thank you for this morning. We're going to just meditate on that great truth. We're going to sit here and we're going to remind ourselves why we give you our all, we give you our best, and we ascribe no glory to ourselves except from you. Because you love Sylvias and Cyntias. You love Todds and terrorists. You love me. We thank you, Jesus, that you are a friend of sinners. I pray we'd respond well to you in all we do. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, we're going to open some doors in Fort Worth, but there are open doors in Dallas right now. I pray that you know he is good, and he is good and you give him your all, you give him your best, you lay your glory at his feet. You go and you sing that song to the world right here, right now to the people he is dying to bring to the table that they might recline with him and know that he is the resurrection and the life so their lives can change from leprosy to life, from death to life, from storing up for themselves treasures that thieves can steal and rust destroy to pouring it out in a way that would never, ever bring you regret.
You go get him. You worship him. If you're here today and you're a leper, come. He loves you. If you're here today and you thought you were righteous and you have been clarified in your understanding, Mary of Bethany, that you need a Savior, you come. Having come and believing, will you go? He is a friend of lepers like me, and he loves us. Oh, how he loves us. Let's go love for him. Amen?
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.