...but only one thing is needed... Luke 10:42b
As we celebrate Resurrection Day, my heart is drawn once more into gazing into the face of Christ through Scripture. I'm certain that you, like me, long for a deeper place of holy intimacy with our Saviour. May we each experience this spiritual reality as we journey together this week in a fresh outpouring of grace and glory from Heaven. Yet, even as we long for new God-encounters, we come to pour out all that we are to the Lord. Let this Passover week be a time when we seek to give and not take, to serve and not seek to be served.
As I was meditating on John 12 I was blessed afresh by the profound picture of worship it paints through the lives of three extremely different siblings – Lazarus, Martha and Mary.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took 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. John 12:1-3
It's so tempting to rush through a familiar portion of Scripture without waiting on the Holy Spirit to bring a fresh illumination. As I re-read this beautiful text, the Holy Spirit impressed this known truth upon me, and in the quiet place of humble waiting I grasped afresh how deep the worship of these three precious individuals was.
It was near Passover, and an occasion had been set apart to focus only on Jesus; a moment in time had been divinely mandated for pure and unadulterated worship of the Lord. A time had been consecrated to wait with Christ and soak up each second of His grace-filled presence. This wondrous encounter would precede the eternal mystery of God outworked on the earth through the beauty and brutality of Calvary. Here, in a little home in Bethany, Heaven came down to earth and the atmosphere inside the house was charged with glory.
A Time to Serve: Martha's Worship
Martha had once been rebuked by the Lord for placing service above worship (see Luke 10:41-42), but now there was not a single word of correction about Martha's service, and the reason was that she now flowed out of love for Christ as labor to Him rather than from a weary place of labor for Him. She was not functioning out of any misplaced sense of duty but rather used her anointed gift of hospitality in worship to her Savior. Long gone was the sense of "having to," now replaced with the reality of "wanting to" use her God-given talents in worship of her Savior. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
God has entrusted gifts, calling, anointing, and commission to every born-again Believer. May we endeavour to live in a place of focus and flow that allows the Spirit of God to permeate Christ's love through us to all those we are privileged to serve.
Perhaps, as she moved around the table catering to the Lord and the dear friends who had gathered at their home, Martha reflected on the words that had marked her as a woman of faith when they rose from within her as she spoke to Jesus at the death of her brother Lazarus: "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask" (John 11:22).
She came to Jesus believing that after four days the Lord would raise her dead brother. She had spoken out of the depths of desperation of a broken heart, but nonetheless she had spoken triumphantly above her circumstances, and her hope was not lost in Christ. Now here she stood to love and serve the One whose resurrection power had raised her brother from the grave. How her faith must have soared to inexplicable heights in those few brief days, and how her heart was surely moved in supreme tenderness to worship Christ with all that she was.
Precious saints, bow your heart with me now and surrender afresh to worshipping God with everything you are.
A Time to Rest: Lazarus' Worship
I want you to use your imagination for just a few moments to picture Lazarus reclining at the table with Jesus. Don't think about the food or the wine; don't deliberate about the table or the benches or even who the other guests might have been. For just one second reflect on the look of adoration that must have been on Lazarus' face as he gazed into the eyes of Christ.
Ponder the reality that here was the living, breathing body of a man once dead who was now alive and well by the side of the King of Glory. Don't you feel he might have nestled as close to Jesus as he possibly could, perhaps even laying his head on the Lord's chest to listen to His heartbeat? Don't you suppose the atmosphere of faith in that room would have been gloriously tangible? When Christ draws near the things of this world fade away.
We can only contemplate what Lazarus experienced during those four days when his body lay dead. What visions had he seen of Heaven and angels and glory? What had he experienced of Hell? These are questions we can never answer this side of eternity, however, it is interesting to ponder. Lazarus was raised to testify to Christ as the Resurrection and the Life and to God's miracle-working power. Every second of Lazarus' existence would be devoted to being a witness for Jesus. May we, too, emulate his holy, fiery passion to make Christ known throughout the nations!
A Time for Extravagant Adoration: Mary's Worship
We often think of Mary as the one who sat in attentive wonder at the feet of Christ, and rightly so, for Scripture affirms this (see Luke 10:39). Mary was a woman given to extravagant God-ward action. Yet, interestingly, Mary was not the first to go to the Master when her brother Lazarus died, rather it was her sister Martha who went out to meet Him whilst Mary stayed at home.
Did she wait to pray for Martha's encounter with the Lord? Was it within Mary's heart that her only sister Martha would know the blessed place of adoration she had attained in her relationship with Christ? Or was it a very different Mary who sat at home: Was her faith failing? Did she feel disappointed that the Master had been so near to Bethany and yet had delayed His coming, and in the interim period her beloved brother had died?
We will never truly know why Mary delayed in going to Christ, but we are told that when Martha returned "she went back and called her sister Mary aside. 'The Teacher is here,' she said, 'and is asking for you.' When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him" (John 11:28-29).
The Jews at the sisters' home had been comforting Mary. I sense Mary might have been having a faith-crisis, but when she learned that the Master was asking for her personally, something broke in Mary, allowing her to move from grief to the glory realm of one-on-one encounter with God.
The speed of her going to Jesus was so rapid that the Jews who had been with her followed her, expecting her to run in her grief to the tomb (see John 11:32). But Mary didn't run to the tomb, she ran to the One who is Resurrection and Life and she fell at His feet and said, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (verse 32).
What did Mary mean? She was acknowledging Christ as Healer, but it would seem she failed to fully comprehend that He could raise Lazarus back to life. Jesus was deeply moved by Mary's grief and those of the other mourners, too. There was no reproof or rejection, only the all-encompassing love of God expressed in Christ. Jesus wept with the brokenhearted and then proceeded to call Lazarus back to life. Envision the moment and rejoice, for we too will know this reality at the end of the Age when we are raised to eternal life in Christ.
In the meantime, let us also celebrate that God has personally called each one of us and meets us in every detail of our lives. He has an eternal plan and purpose for each of us, and Christ alone commands our destinies. Hallelujah!
Now consider the expensive perfume that was to be saved for the day of the Lord's burial:"Then Mary took 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" (John 12:3).
Perhaps Mary had looked at her sister Martha enthralled in humble service and worship, then turned her attention to her once-dead brother now vibrant with life whose eyes were riveted with love on the Master, and she too remembered her season of agonizing pain, loss, and doubt now replaced with the wonder of resurrection glory. How could she withhold anything from the Lord?
She looked at that expensive perfume, and there was nothing that could hold her back. I envisage the multitude of angels that must have attended that occasion when all Heaven watched with bated breath as Mary picked up the nard. This was an unforgettable moment of holy awe, and out of the flow of Mary's heart came an action of dynamic worship and wonder and she offered Him her everything. All of it, every single drop of the expensive nard, was poured out on the Master as the alabaster jar was broken open. She loved Him so and nothing could be withheld; her beloved Savior was irreplaceable. She poured it out and the whole house was flooded with fragrance.
I imagine the silence and then the outpouring of grace and the crescendo of angelic worship that trumpeted earthwards as holy beings celebrated and joined the adoring hearts of Mary, Lazarus, and Martha. Heaven and earth were joined in this moment of marvel as Christ was worshipped and adored.
May we live in the overflow of such expression of love to and for our Savior. I pray that our lives would be a fragrance to Jesus and that we would each breakthrough in victorious faith to live lifestyles worthy of His lovely name. We were made to worship and adore Him. He is worthy of all our praise. Today and always may God bless you and keep you in His tender love.
Your sister and friend,
Catherine Brown is the founder/director of Gatekeepers Global Ministries (GGM) and is a sought-after national and international preacher and teacher. She is presently leading a global evangelism and discipleship mission entitled "GGM 7 Million Souls" and is working with her team and valued partners from 32 nations/regions to achieve the vision objectives. As of January 2015, there are almost 150,000 new converts and 117 new church plants. Catherine operates in an impacting apostolic/teaching mantle with a strong revival thrust on her preaching, serving the Church and the lost through Christ's Gospel of love. She has ministered in Europe, Africa, Israel, and the USA and has had the privilege of seeing people saved, baptized, healed, and delivered in the glorious outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with signs and wonders following. Catherine's passion for Christ and His Kingdom is contagious, and wherever she ministers people are envisioned, equipped, empowered, and mobilized. She is married to Stephen and they have four lovely grown up children and live in the West Coast of Scotland.
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