Thursday, April 6, 2023

          It was an innocent dinner party that we read about in John 12:1-11.  And quite a party it was.  It is not every day that you get to eat with someone who has been raised from the dead.  And it is not every day that you have a chance to eat with someone who raises people from the dead.  But there was Lazarus—happy, healthy and home.  And there was Jesus—Lord, Master, Savior.  It is also not every day you get a chance to have dinner with Jesus.  But there was Jesus—just a few days before most of Jerusalem would turn against Him and call for His cruel crucifixion.  Lazarus and Jesus were likely talking when we pick up the story.  Just imagine a man raised from the dead talking to another man who would soon die and rise from the grave as well.  Lots to discuss!
            John tells us Martha was serving and Mary was anointing Jesus’ feet with a pint of nard and a bottle of perfume.  John says the house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.  It was one of those all-too-few moments that Jesus had where He could simply enjoy the company of friends and those who loved Him and held onto His every word.  It was the kind of moment that Jesus is worthy to enjoy all the time—for eternity even.  Jesus is worthy.  And worthy is Jesus.  He is worthy of the best we can bring to anoint and honor Him.    
            On another side of the story, we hear from Judas who complained that this anointing was a total waste of good money, good perfume and good time.  He concocted a cover story about selling the perfume to help the poor but he really had visions of helping himself to the money since his reputation was that of a thief.  Judas cared little about saving a few shekels here or there.  He slowly watched his expectations and wishes fade from view as Jesus lived according to the plans of the Father and not to meet the whims and wishes of His soon-to-be-betrayer.  This protest from Judas was a portend of things to come on Thursday night stretching into Friday.    
            We really have two competing visions of Jesus.  Will we enjoy Him and His company or will we scrutinize His every move?  Will we cherish the chance simply to call Him Savior or look for ways we do not think He will ever measure up?  We really have four choices to make when it comes to Jesus.  We can serve Him, like Martha did.  We can make our lives about making Him known and serving Him on every occasion.  We can commune with Him, like Lazarus did.  It makes sense to want to be with the One who has saved us from every awful thing we have ever done.  We can worship Him, as Mary did with her anointing.  We can lavish our love, devotion, dedication and trust upon Him.  We can offer everything we have to Him—call Him Lord of all and Lord of us.  The fourth choice is to turn from Him, as Judas did.  We can turn away, walk away, even betray Him.  We can come up with reasons for why we should hold on to this or that or deny the Lord this part of our lives or that part of our lives.  We can give Him a little and keep the rest. 
            Today, across the world, many theologians speak of and speak about common grace, electing grace, irresistible grace, persevering grace, prevenient grace, pursuing grace, and saving grace, but to the sinner, it has always been amazing grace!  And there was grace at work in Bethany.  Grace for Lazarus that brought Him back from the dead.  Grace for Mary that welcomed her joy and love.  Grace for Martha by choosing her home for dinner when there were so few nights left and so much left to say and do.  And if you are acting like Judas today, there is grace for you too.  It is not too late to take hold of the hands that were nailed for you. 
            And there is grace for us too.  A grace that forgives, welcomes and receives us.  A grace that invites us to come by the Lord’s side for a while and simply be still.  It is always about grace.  And grace will lead us home.  Join us today for Maundy Thursday worship at both noon and 7:00pm.  Join us for Good Friday worship at noon.  And celebrate the resurrection with others at our Midway location in the picnic shelters at 7:00am on Easter and worship with us in our sanctuary at 10:55am on Easter.  As always, you can share our worship at

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