[31/05/2020]

The Jesus Complaints Department Pt 4 – Ps Kerrin Wallis

"What a waste..."

Episode Notes

John 12:1-8 (NIV)

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Likely the same account in Mark.

Mark 14:4-10 (NIV)

4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? (That is a great question – why do people get upset or offended at someone else’s willingness to show extravagant honour…??? – we will look at that….)  She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Most commentaries seem to lean towards the accounts of this event in Matt, Mark and John being the same and then a separate account, but similar incident, being recording in the book of Luke. From here, let’s work on the premise that these three accounts are of the same event.

Let’s begin with the picture, the scene that is painted here. There is a dinner. The scene is set with the main 5 characters.

Jesus is in the centre and apparently this is all about Him (in appearance anyway). The dinner that this incident is happening at, is put on to honour Jesus!

Then there is:

  • LAZARUS is reclining at the table with other guests, comfortable in Jesus presence. Kind of kicking back around JC!
  • MARTHA is serving and being faithful walking around with trays of food
  • Then there is MARY who just totally hijacked and interrupted the party, but why?

Well the party gets a bit stirred up when she breaks a bottle of perfume worth a year’s wages and gives Jesus a good foot massage.

  • Then lastly JUDAS who blew up at the whole thing and got offended at Mary’s extravagance

His objection was:

  • “That was wasted”
  • “It could have been better spent on the poor”
  • “What are you thinking?”
  • It’s too much!

It got me thinking about this scene, what caused the problem and the complaint here???

The character of Lazarus opens the scene. No-one complained about Lazarus lounging around and being casual and comfortable with Jesus that was ok.

This was a party to honour Jesus and it would seem that Lazarus, and many of the guests, seemed to think just their presence there was honour enough for Jesus.

  • It’s funny how people can feel like they are ‘honouring Jesus’ simply by rocking up
  • It’s almost like Jesus you should feel honoured that I just came to the party

You can see it sometimes in people’s attitude to church, prayer life, service to God or our giving financially

  • God you should feel honoured that I came to church
  • Surely its good enough that I came
  • What more could He possibly expect, I come most of the time and at least when it suits me Well I said a prayer this week or arrived at a prayer meeting once last year!
  • I read my Bible this week God – how good am I?

Today, just like in Jesus’ day, the majority of the party were all ok with that.

  • Everyone was there to honour Jesus, but it seems none of these guests certainly did captured His attention
  • And they were all ok with that
  • After all, He was really the lucky one that they came

I wonder if we are a bit casual when it comes to our:

  • Spiritual life
  • Commitment to His Bride the Church
  • Love for God
    • Pursuit of Godly friendships and relationships
    • Connect Groups – I would but it’s inconvenient and a bit too much effort to get to
  • Choice to put His kingdom above our own – depends if it fits my schedule or plan
  • Our Godly lifestyle

Are we more of a comfortable lounging around and assuming really God should be thanking us that we even show up kind of Christian?

  • Wow God aren’t you lucky I am on the creative team, host team?
  • Wow God you should be glad I call myself a Christian
  • I came to church today God you should feel blessed

No-where in the Bible or history is this kind of Christianity even noticed by God or anybody else.

In fact, as early as the beginning chapters of Genesis, when the first offerings to God are recorded, God rejects Cain for just such a:

  • Casual attitude toward God
  • Half heartedness
  • ‘On my terms’ presentation to God

The Bible condemns that kind of Christianity!

Rev 3:16-17 (NIV)

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

But everyone else living like it, half-hearted and casual about God loves it because it makes them feel comfortable in their compromised version of what God intended to be very different.

  • The world loves it because it doesn’t challenge anything
  • And the devil particularly loves it because it lacks any real power or God factor’

So there is good cause for us to ask ourselves:

Do we take:

  • God
  • His presence
  • Praise and Worship
  • His Church
  • His finances and tithing
  • His Word
  • His call on our life
  • His eternal kingdom and gospel
  • His people and mission

Casually and carelessly?

What does the evidence of our life, time allocations, finances, commitments, show in the Kingdom of Heaven?

But we can move to another character in the scene… Martha.

Now Martha is the next level because she is serving Jesus.

  • She is not sitting down, she is doing what is an acceptable, maybe even admirable job, compared to the majority that are just casually taking Jesus’ presence for granted.

Again, this doesn’t draw too much attention.

We are ok with people doing a bit of stuff for God, just as long as it doesn’t make me feel bad or uncommitted. Don’t get too extravagant with your honour of God and don’t ask me for serious commitment or sacrifice.

Now although this passage is a specific complaint at a party 2000 years ago, it can be heard echoed with the same spirit and motivation behind it all around the place today.

The majority of people are ok as long we are “reasonable” with our Christianity. No one gets too upset, but don’t challenge the status quo!

As long as your service to God and honour of Him is average then it doesn’t challenge people too much and it won’t get too noticed.

No one is getting upset at the party while we are just nice, safe little Christians.

  • The problem is the casual Christians, they don’t notice it and get upset, but neither does God notice it.

Then we come to Mary and she is the one that really upsets the apple cart!

She is there crying, wiping Jesus feet, then pulls out a perfume bottle worth a year’s wages and smashes the top making it un-reusable and she pours it over Jesus feet and worships Him.

  • Boy everything just got quiet and that caused an upset
  • It got God’s attention and people’s attention!

It is clear.

  • Casual Christianity never rocks any boats or gets anyone’s attention – it’s pretty much useless
  • Dutiful, boring, safe, conservative Christianity is ok, but again no-one notices, not even really God

But when someone gets real and extravagant and passionate with honouring God, that never goes unnoticed!!! Heaven pays attention

To give some perspective to just how extravagant Mary’s honour was, listen to this from a commentary:

“the extravagance and the method were disturbing. The pure nard she uses was imported from northern India (Brown 1966:448). Judas says, no doubt correctly, that it was worth a year’s wages (v. 5). The text literally reads “three hundred denarii” (cf. NIV note). Since a denarius was a day’s pay for a day labourer, the NIV paraphrase is accurate, taking into account feast days and sabbaths when one would not work. A rough equivalent would be something over the gross pay for someone working at minimum wage for a year. No wonder the disciples (Mt 26:8), Judas in particular, respond with dismay at such a waste.”

Somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 and this is not a rich women that we know of!

Wow – that is extravagant honour!

But Jesus is not uncomfortable receiving this.

  • In fact He tells others to leave her alone!
  • She has done a beautiful thing!
  • He points out their actions are nothing to even notice
  • But her actions will be remembered and spoken of wherever the Gospel is preached!

Extravagant honour gets the attention of Heaven and the world!

  • You’re just naïve and passionate, you will settle down!
    • No – only if we fail to get them away from the poison of comfortable Christianity
  • Don’t get too caught up serving God and giving too much, you will just get burnt out or used or waste your time

It is a question of our willingness to truly, extravagantly honour God!

You will notice Jesus did not stop her and say whoa, that’s a bit much.

Our modern perversion of Jesus tells us He would have stopped her and humbly refused, then been bashful about it all! But no! He sat there watched it, soaked it up and was impressed!

That’s just the thing, when we forget who God actually is and what He has actually done, we lose the kind of honour He demands as:

  • King of Kings
  • God of the Universe
  • Creator of Heaven and Earth

We want Him to be buddy buddy and all casual, but God by nature must be worshipped and honoured!

So, the party got interrupted and while it is fairly safe to assume most were probably challenged by this woman’s extravagant honour, there is a fifth player here and his response was different!

Judas got offended at her!

There is always a Judas – somewhere! Rather than be challenged and humble themselves and draw closer to God, they just stand back and criticise! they always use very ‘spiritual justification’ to cover their greed.

John 12:4-8 (NIV)

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

The Mark account says:

“Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

That is my experience with all the people who get offended at people who commit extravagantly to honouring God in every area.

They use spiritual, seemingly caring and sincere words to warn and caution, settle people, because the extravagance of someone who is truly passionate about God, His cause, His people, His mission shows up their own agenda – just like Judas!

It’s no surprise he accused this woman, who extravagantly honoured Jesus, of waste and that it should be given to the poor and then goes out and sells out Jesus for money – typical!

The Judas kind of response gets offended that Jesus asks people to commit to Him and is comfortable with extravagant honour and worship!

I suppose the question is where do we sit today?

  • If we were in this scene and room would our honour of Jesus be noticeable to him or others?
  • Or we would we get offended at others honour and passion for Jesus?

Don’t continue with casual Christianity. Be extravagant in your worship, honour and passion for Jesus, Surrender yourself to Him

Suggestions for discussion

  1. Have you been accused of extravagant worship of Jesus? How did it make you feel?
  2. Are you aware of some people’s casual attitude to God? What can you do to help change that?
  3. Why do you think Mary was the one crying and washing Jesus’ feet with the perfume?