Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘Romans

“Why was this fragrant oil wasted? – Mark 14:4

she-anointed-his-head-matt-26-7Before the Passover, Jesus and His disciples were at the home of Simon, the leper.  As they sat around the table, a woman whom John later identified as Mary, Lazarus’s sister, came with an alabaster jar filled with expensive oil.

As the others watched, she broke the jar and poured the oil on Jesus’ head.  It amazes me how some of them reacted.  They were moved with great indignation.  “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor,” they demanded.  Didn’t they think that Jesus was worthy of being anointed with costly oil?  He was the Messiah.  He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.  He was their Teacher who came to share the Good News of salvation.  Didn’t He deserve this honor?  Mark went on to say that they criticized Mary sharply.

Jesus defended Mary.   “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.  Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”  This is true.  Sermons have been preached about the alabaster jar of oil and there are songs about it.  Mary had done a marvelous thing.  She had shown that Jesus was to be the Passover Lamb and that’s why she anointed Him. 

The disciples failed to see the significance of her actions.  They were more concerned with the things of this world.  John tells us that Judas Iscariot was those who objected to what Mary did and spoke about giving the money to the poor but he didn’t care about the poor.  The poor would not have seen any of that money because Judas was a thief and was stealing from the moneybox (John 12:6).   And Jesus made a very good point.  The poor would always be around but He wouldn’t be.  Mary always seem to know how precious little time she had with the Savior and always made the most of it.   She had given Him her best.  This was her way of doing something for Jesus–giving Him something that was valuable in gratitude for what He had done for her.  While her sister Martha was preoccupied with serving, Mary’s focus was on Jesus.

Before this time Jesus had told His disciples that He would die and be raised up on the third day.  Mary knew that Jesus was going to die and she came prepared.  She brought oil to anoint Him for His burial.  She accepted what the disciples couldn’t bring themselves to acknowledge–the Lord was going to die.  The disciples didn’t want to think about this.  Mark mentioned that they were afraid to ask Him what He meant (Mark 9:31, 32).  It didn’t fit in with their idea of Jesus and His kingdom.  They, like many others, believed that Jesus would overthrow the Romans and set up His kingdom.  They believed that Jesus’ kingdom was of this world.  Some people tried to force the issue (John 6:15).  When He was before Pilate, Jesus made it clear, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). 

The disciples still didn’t get it.  In Acts 1:6, they asked Him just before He ascended to Heaven, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They were still expecting Him to set up an earthly kingdom before He left them.  It was perhaps in this kingdom which they argued about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:33, 34).  Yet in the kingdom in heaven which Jesus came to set up, greatness has to do with service to others.  It is the humble who are exalted, not the great or the proud.  Mary is not remembered for any greatness but for a simple yet profound act of love.

Matthew tells us that when Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day, Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him (Matthew 16:21, 22). Peter and the other disciples didn’t want to hear about their Lord, the Son of the living God being killed.  On the flip side, Mary who had heard the teachings of Jesus did not recoil in fear of His impending suffering and death.  Instead she prepared herself and Him for that moment.  And Jesus commended her for her “good work”.

Mary showed such love and devotion to Jesus that it’s a shame she was criticized for it.  It occurred to me that some of the people were acting self-righteously.  It was as if they were saying, “How could she waste money on expensive oil?  I would never do that.  I would use the money to help the poor.”  Are we the same way?  Would we have said to ourselves, “I wouldn’t have done what she did.  I would have given that money to help our church to spread the Gospel or to a charity.”

Do we find ourselves criticizing those who, through their actions show their faithfulness and devotion to Christ in ways we might not have thought of?  When at church do we find fault with other believers?  What should we do instead?  What can we learn from this story?

  • Always put Jesus first.  He is more important than anyone or anything else, even the poor
  • Give your best to the Lord
  • Expense or cost doesn’t matter when it comes to expressing love for Jesus
  • Don’t let criticism discourage you
  • Don’t defend yourself.  Let the Lord do that
  • Love in action
  • Don’t be critical of others
  • Don’t be self-righteous
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adam-eve_019Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness – Genesis 1:26

There are many people who deny that there are three Persons in the Godhead. They don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What does the Word of God say?

In the first book of the Bible, God is speaking to others when He says, “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness.” Who is He talking to? The angels? Psalm 104:4 says “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” Angels are created beings. Would God create us in the image of other created beings even though we were made lower than them (Psalm 8:5)? Remember what the angel said when the apostle John fell down at his feet in worship? “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). Twice John fell at the angel’s feet to worship him and twice he told him not to do that. They were both servants. Only God is to be worshipped.

He was talking to the other members of the Godhead who were present at creation. The Son was present. The apostle John confirms this in the first chapter of his Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).

The Holy Spirit was present at creation. Genesis 1:2 states, And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. All were present at Jesus’ baptism. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

When Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples, He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Though commonly known as the “Trinity”, the term “Godhead” is actually in the Bible. It is used by Paul in Romans 1:20 and in Colossians 2:9. He uses the Greek words theiotēs and theotēs. Both of which refer to the state of being God. The Godhead is one God, three persons. Paul refers to these three Persons in his letter to the Christians in Corinth. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). The author of Hebrews writes, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Many use these words of Moses to dispute the teaching of the Godhead. What they need to remember is that the Israelites had come from Egypt which had many gods and the other nations at that time were also polytheistic. The golden calf Aaron made was the Egyptian god, Apis.

The Godhead is comprised of three Persons with different roles but one purpose much like a family with more than one member with different roles. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 John 5:7, 8). Here the Spirit refers to the Father, the water to the Holy Spirit and the blood to Jesus. They are one. Together they created us and together they devised the plan of salvation when our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned. Together they are working in and through us so that one day we will spend eternity with them on the new earth.

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” – Matthew 19:19accuser-of-the-brethren8

Like a certain lawyer we need to ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus told him the story of a good Samaritan who helped a man lying on the road after he was robbed.  He tended to his wounds and took him to an innkeeper.  He offered to repay whatever was spent to care for the hurt stranger.  This story made the lawyer realize that a neighbor is one who shows mercy.

Neighbor in this context goes beyond the person living nearby.  It is the homeless person you give a warm blanket to or buy a cup of hot tea or chocolate and a sandwich.  It is the troubled teen you help.  It is the elderly person you give your seat to or the blind person you offer your arm to.

Paul wrote in Romans 13:8-10:  “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

It makes sense that if you love others as you ought, you would not do anything to hurt them.  It would never occur to you to cross that line and have an affair with your boss’s wife or your sister’s husband.  You would never dream of taking another’s life.  You wouldn’t take what does not belong to you or tell lies about someone else.  You wouldn’t want what someone else has.  You would not gossip or tell lies about people.  When you choose love over envy, lust, dishonesty, etc, you would be fulfilling God’s law which Jesus summed up in two commandments–love God and love your neighbor.

If you love others like you love yourself, you would not do them any harm.  You would treat them as you want to be treated.  Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  And always think of God and what His word says.  Joseph was not willing to hurt Potiphar by sleeping with his wife or to sin against God by breaking His law which prohibits adultery.  Bottom line:  We treat our neighbors as we would like to be treated.

Jesus spoke the parable in Luke 18:9-13 because there were people who trusted in their own righteousness and despised others. I found myself thinking about this parable and decided to study it.  The parable is about two men–a Pharisee and a tax collector.  First, let’s take a look at each of these men.

The Pharisee

– He prayed with himself

– He thanks God for not being like other men such as extortioners, unjust, adulterers or like the tax collector

– He fasts twice a week

– He gives tithes of all that he owned

The Tax Collector

– He stood some distance away

– He would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven

– He beat his breast

– He prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner”

The Pharisee’s prayer was not so much a prayer as it was a self-promotion.  He was self-righteous.  He did not acknowledge that he was a sinner.  He felt that fasting twice a week and paying tithes made him righteous. He puffed himself up.  His heart was not with God.  His pride did not allow any room for God.  He made himself big, thus diminishing God in his eyes.  There was no reverence.  He exalted himself instead of God.  He was boasting not praying.

Instead of thanking God for His mercy, he looked down on others, thanking God that he was not like them.  His prayer is not the kind of prayer that would please God.  How could God accept a prayer from someone who shows not love or compassion for others?  This Pharisee condemned others because they were different.  What he failed to understand was that God loved these people.

When tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples, the Pharisees wondered why He would do something like that.  Jesus said to them, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means:  I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  For I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13).

According to Paul we are all sinners.  In Romans 3:23, he says, “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Like the rest of us, this Pharisee was a sinner who needed a Savior.

The tax collector could not even raise his eyes to heaven.  He was so humble.  He showed total reverence to God.  He stood afar as if he felt unworthy to approach or be near the throne of mercy.  He beat his chest as he begged God to be merciful to him.  He acknowledged that he was a sinner.  His prayer God accepted.  It was done in humility and with a contrite spirit.  He gave himself to God.  He, not the Pharisee, went to his house justified.

Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.”

Psalm 138:6 says “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.  The Pharisee’s self-righteousness and pride separated him from God.

James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  God resisted the Pharisee. 

God gave grace to the tax collector who was humble.  Jesus said that the tax collector went home justified.  I looked up the word “justified” in Strong’s Concordance and came up with the following definition: to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous or such as he ought to be.

So, the Pharisee left the temple the same way he went in–a proud, self-righteous and unrepentant sinner.  The tax collector went into the temple a humble, repentant sinner and left as a man whom God declared righteous.  He was vindicated.



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