Saturday, October 29, 2011

Preparing for His Death (Jn. 11:47-12:8)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 23 October 2011 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 11:47 – 12:8

John said the law came from Moses but the grace of salvation came from Jesus Christ. One who could not understand the New Testament cannot really understand the Old Testament. Through Jesus Christ we understand God’s salvation in human history. We see this principle in Lu. 23:24. Jesus appeared before His disciples and explained the Psalms, the Prophets and the history books. The starting point in understanding the Old Testament is from the resurrection of Christ.

After He resurrected Lazarus, the Jews plotted to kill Him. At the end of John 11, He withdrew temporarily and was not easily found (Jn. 11:54). This is not a flight to safety. He would appear again before the Passover. This would be the forth time within 3.5 years of ministry. The first time He went to Jerusalem, He cleansed the temple. The forth time, He cleared the temple again. In His last visit He would be crucified.

Many people put their faith in Jesus because of Lazarus’ resurrection and many Jews also wanted to kill Jesus because of this. The Pharisees and priests had ordered that anyone who saw Jesus should report to them so that they might arrest Him (Jn. 11:57). They wanted to kill Him but because murder is against the law they used Pilate to kill Him instead. Pilate told the Pharisees to judge and punish Jesus themselves according to their own law and the Pharisees said according to their law they could not put Jesus to death.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany where Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived. Martha served and Mary prepared a perfume. Here Mary poured Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. This is 6 days before Jesus’ death. This is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. She was very sensitive to God’s timing. The servant of God should do things according to God’s will and timing. Most people do not understand this and end up doing things in their lives out of line with God’s ways and timing.

The perfume was worth a year’s wages. Our her love for Jesus, she saved all her money and bought the expensive perfume to anoint Him for the death of Jesus. This true High Priest would be crucified soon for the sin of the world. Who would anoint Him? God has prepared this woman to anoint Him. No one else knew He was about to die.

Jesus was born from the womb of Mary who was submissive to God’s will. She was anointed for His death by another Mary who loved Jesus. And Mary Magdalene, the woman out of whom Jesus cast out 7 demons, was the first woman who saw the resurrection of Jesus. The most obedient and the most defiled were all used by God. These women were blessed indeed.

She broke the bottle. She did not want to leave anything behind as a memory for her contribution. The way Martha and Mary loved Jesus were different. Martha was always visibly the hardworking one who served. Mary was unreserved and quietly working hard and saving up to anoint Jesus with all she had. This sacrifice is very rare. Jesus said when the gospel was preached to the end world, what Mary had done will also be told in memory of her.

Judas protested, saying the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Judas himself did not help or care for the poor but he rebuked Mary for not using the money to give to the poor. John said Judas said that because Judas was the money keeper and often stole. Who realised Judas was the thief? Even on the day He was betrayed, His 11 disciples still did not know. They were simple-minded. But Jesus knew.

Jesus said, “Leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (Jn. 12:7-7) The lesson here is we should seize the moment to serve God or we will lose the opportunities.


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