Palm Sunday Worship

The week between Palm Sunday is a unique time for us to pause and reflect. Almost half of the book of John focuses our attention on what Jesus did and said that week, from the supper in his honor on the eve of Palm Sunday to the Resurrection breakfast on the beach. Jesus is worthy of all our praise and worship. Can we look back at our life as an alabaster jar from which the perfumed oil is poured? Look into your jar today and you will see that there is still more to be given to Him!

Yes Master, There’s Still More!

Darkening Horizon

…Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews whoimg_4333 came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  John 11:31b-34a

We often think of Mary as the ideal believer since she had chosen the good part listening at the feet of Jesus. But at the feet of Jesus is a place to learn, not a place to pose for pictures. Mary was in the good place but she soon faced the ultimate test just like we do. Lazarus, her brother died and he had died while Jesus had purposely delayed his coming. “If you had been here Lord!” , her heart broke trying to fit together the puzzle pieces of the harsh finality of death with the loving promises of the master. Mary could not see beyond her tears, yet Jesus was touched by her weakness just as He is today by ours.

We do not need to reach some ideal level of always joyfully believing the best when the worst has fallen in on our world. Our Savior is touched by the feeling of our infirmities, our hopeless state and our tears. He is not a demanding master but a master who takes the terrible demanding circumstances upon his shoulders and carries them to the cross.

What is your greatest sorrow? How heavy is the weight of your load? How long is your night that never ends? Jesus at your most vulnerable moment weeps and asks, “Where have you laid him?” No matter our darkening  the horizon of our world our Jesus sees beyond!

There’s Still More

The gospel account of Matthew and John differ slightly in the story of Jesus being anointed at Bethany. Matthew tells us that a woman with an alabaster box anointed his head as kings and priests were anointed in the Old Testament. In her choice of anointing this costly gift gave Jesus the highest honor and glory.

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table Matthew 26:6-7

But the story in the book of John tells us that she anointed Jesus feet.and wiped them with her hair.

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil          John 12:3

This anointing was more personal in that she saw his need to have his feet washed and her choice to lavish the perfumed oil on his feet was her act of grateful worship and an expression of pure love.

While thinking over the story of Mary’s act of giving I imagined how she might have begun with anointing Jesus’ head then seeing she still had much remaining in her jar, knelt and lavished all that remained on his feet. The momentary shock of the crowd gave way to harsh and pointed criticism. Her act of worship seemed such a waste of resources for such to them. Why there were certainly more weighty problems among the poor which could have been aided by the value of what she had in that jar.

The picture of  Mary simply waiting on her Master’s response captured my imagination and heart. Many of you may feel as Mary did, that you have given your best to glorify Him only to be shunned or criticized. Yet rather than becoming bitter or defensive you look and see that you still have more to give. He will be the one to both receive your lavish gift of worship and to defend you in His own way.  I present this simple song tonight in hopes that He will continue to be glorified through our lives and that many will be encouraged to give Him more!

 

Master There Is Still More!

Master There is Still More!

 

As people filled the hall Mary trembled at the door

Holding tight the fragile jar that held her treasure store

Her eyes ran searching, looking close as she softly crossed the floor

Then with the box of alabaster came and stood behind the Lord

She broke the seal and on his head perfumed oil began to pour

The crowd fell silent as the fragrance gently filled the air

“Why this waste?” one man exclaimed why not feed the poor?

But Mary looked up to His face and said “Master, there is still more!”

Then effortlessly with a joy she knelt to wash his feet

And wiped them with her hair then smiled her worship now complete

 

 

But with righteous indignation soon the people harshly asked

Just think of all that we could buy with the spikenard from that flask!

But Mary only paused to fix her wet and loosened hair

Then waited calmly at His feet by the broken empty jar

 

And in response her Master said that they’d always have the poor

Who could be fed on any day yet, they would not have Him much more

So tell this story always of how she has blessed her Lord

When she poured her perfume on my head

Then said,kimg2590

“Master there is still more!”

 

Anointed at Bethany

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.  John 12:7

Generally left out of the discussion of passion week is what happened at Bethany. Of all the places where Jesus went during His ministry I find no other place so special to Him as in Bethany,the home of Mary, Martha and LazarusIMG_4760. That is where Martha first invited Him and His disciples for supper. Bethany was where Mary learned to sit and listen to Jesus. Bethany was the place where Jesus declared, “I am the Resurrection and the Life!” Bethany was where Lazarus was raised from the dead. Now, Bethany was the special place where Jesus went to prepare for his journey to the cross.

It was while Jesus reclined at the dinner table that Mary set in motion the beauty of that moment that Jesus said was a preparation for His burial. While Jesus sat at the head the table surrounded by the crowd, Mary searched for something she could do. In her heart was born a great longing to do something more.

She quietly slipped away during the activity and from her private quarters brought out the precious alabaster jar. In that jar were a year’s wages stored in perfume. We do not know if it was a gift she received from an admirer or a dowry set aside by her father to present at her marriage. The only thing we know for sure is that the value of the ointment was so high that it shocked the room into silence as she broke it open and poured its contents, first over the head, and then on the feet of Jesus Christ.

The guests were stupefied, and all was quiet. Then at Judas’ prompting the disciples all began to criticise her saying, “Why this waste?” But Mary understood what none of them could see. Only in Mary’s heart was the clear knowledge that soon, this most precious of all men would be gone. This was her time and she chose to use it to lavish Him with pure worship. The gift of her perfumed ointment would linger, so that the disciples could still catch its aroma a few days later at the last supper. The delicate sweetness would have wafted into Judas’ nostrils as he gave the betraying kiss in the garden. The soldiers who beat Jesus would still smell its fragrance when they pressed the crown of thorns down on his head. Then as Jesus bowed that gentle head and gave His life,He would carry Mary’s love gift right to the throne of God.

But does the worship of Bethany flow from my own heart today ? Am I like one of the disciples, focusing only on temporary things and missing seeing the infinite value of Jesus? This is the last day before beginning of the week of all weeks, I remembered that Jesus commanded us to tell again the story of Mary and her gift of worship, wherever the gospel was told. He wanted us to remember because only a worship like hers can carry us beyond the sufferings of this life. Only the perfume of our own alabaster jar will find its way past the world of men and time and into the eternal presence of God.

Jesus and His Family

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. John 12:24

One of my favorite Hymns begins with the words, “On a hill far away Stood an old rugged cross.” When we sing hymns we may get a picture of Jesus’ life as though there were no daily life, no home, no family or any of the earthly responsibilities that we have. Yes Jesus did die on that far away hill for our sins.Just as He said, “He fell to the ground and died”  Yes, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem fulfilling the prophecy. Yes Jesus did walk on water, raise the dead and cleanse the lepers. But in between all those magnificent moments of Jesus’ life, he also had a family. Amazingly, Jesus in His gentleness and wisdom was able to bring those two worlds together.

For us, who deal with even the smallest roles of leadership in the church, this earthly side ofFar away Hill Jesus’ life is so important to remember. When the needs the hurts and the voices of others, sometimes begin to drown out the voices of our own family we can look to the master. Jesus also had a family and that he never forgot who He was on earth, as well as who He was in Heaven.

After all Jesus never questioned when people said, “Jesus of Nazareth”. When he met the first disciples the first thing that Nathaniel asked was, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was his earthly family’s hometown. Jesus never froze the conversation to point out that in fact, He should more properly have been called, “Jesus of Bethlehem”  Jesus preached his first message in front of His family and at his home synagogue. At Cana of Galilee, where He did his first miracle, His mother and brothers were there. In the midst of some of the most intense times of Jesus earthly ministry, he returned to Nazareth.

The lack of the intimate details of how Jesus as the oldest son, cared for the needs of his mother, didn’t mean that he ignored her. In fact, the lack of Biblical specifics, may have been His way of protecting and gently covering the humanity and fragility of Mary and His brothers and sisters. That covering that Jesus gave, rather than being a stifling blanket to His family instead became a greenhouse to protect and encourage their growth.

While Jesus faced increasing hostility and persecution from the religious leaders, His family was given space to live their own lives. When Jesus was preparing to go up to Jerusalem and His brothers (still unbelieving at that point) wanted him to go with them; He spared them by going later. Though Jesus was indeed the eternal Son of God, He always remembered that He was also, the Son of Mary. At the harshest moment of opposition from His own family when they came to take Him away, thinking He had lost His mind, Jesus challenged them to believe, but He never rejected them.

At the very end, on that “Hill Far Away” Jesus looked down from the cross and in His moment of horrible suffering He made provision for for His mother’s needs. Have we, who are only minor servants in God’s kingdom remembered the importance of doing the same? Have we in our own moments of stress, family fighting or suffering been sure to make provision for them? When Mary and Joseph felt alone in the stable, God sent shepherds, to remind them of the preciousness of that hour. When Jesus was busy, with thousands following His ministry, He found time again and again to return home to Nazareth. When finally His last drops of blood were flowing from His arms, He tenderly trusted His mother to John.

“Every good tree gives good fruit.”.Jesus had taught on the mount. The good fruit of Jesus’ family care was that, at Pentecost, Mary was still there in the upper room. When all the church was later scattered by persecution Mary was able to safely remain in Jerusalem under the wing of John. Later on we discover that two of His brothers, James and Jude not only became believers but went on to become Apostles. In Jerusalem none other than James became the local leader and pastor of the early church.

Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed in that conflict between ministry and home. But if we remember that like Jesus we have both an earthly family and a heavenly calling then from our life will come the good fruit that grows from a seed that falls to the ground.It may be our Father is allowing pressure to build up to help us to break free from the husk of the seed shell and begin to grow, discover new life and give good fruit to those closest. We may have an innumerable array of friends and neighbors, but we have only one family that God has trusted into our hands.