A Life Worth Pouring

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Spiritual Profiling

Our world is full of profiles… Facebook, Instagram, Medical Portal, SnapChat, mental health, physical health, Child Safety, Volunteer, and the list could go on.....
A basic definition of a profile is this: A brief article giving a description of a person or organization.
So, a profile is basically a preview picture or representation of who you are as an individual or organization.
A profile does not define us, but it can give a fairly accurate reflection of who we are… a profile gives other people a snapshot of who you are, what you value, and (in general) how you live your life… how you respond when life happens....
I’m sure the health departments are keeping a profile on all who test positive for COVID...
Profiles for certain employment hires…
Profiles for new missionary candidates — (It is not so much that we are trying to find the exact profile with all the positive traits we are looking for.... it is more important that the candidates we interview not have the negative traits that are unhelpful.
As we continue our study through the gospel of John today, we are going to be presented with several spiritual profiles. I would like to invite you to open your Bibles this morning to John chapter 12.
In this chapter, the Bible gives us a Profile picture of several individuals, which tells us something about these individuals and about where they are spiritually.
There are 2 basic profiles presented in this passage.
A Profile of Love: A Life Poured Out... Illustrating what it looks like when we believe and give our all for the building of Christ’s Kingdom.
and A Profile of Hate: A Life Evaporated… Illustrating what it looks like when we refuse to believe… and live life for ourselves.... reserving all for the benefit of our kingdoms.
We are going to focus most of our time looking at 3 profiles of Love… as the Word of God challenges our hearts to live our lives.... as A Life worth Pouring.
Let’s begin this morning by reading John 12:1-11 together this morning. (Stand if you are able… )
John 12:1–11 ESV
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
Prayer --
Let’s set the context of the event in our minds before we move ahead…
At the end of chapter 11, Jesus was in Bethany.... raised Lazarus from the dead and then left Bethany.... going to a town near the wilderness called Ephraim .... and there is where he stayed (for a while...) with his disciples.
Then, the first verse of chapter 12 tells us that it is now 6 days before Passover.
We don’t know how much time passed between the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12. We know that the events that took place in chapter 11 were taking place sometime after the feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) (10:22). So, those events would have taken place around mid-late December. Now, in chapter 12 we are told that in 6 days will be Passover (typically in April). So at the very least, we know that from chapter 10 to chapter 12... 3-4 months have passed.
When we read the other gospel accounts we can somewhat help to fill in the time gap.
When Jesus left Bethany, we were told that He went to Ephraim. Ephraim is about 15 miles North, North East of Bethany (as the crow flies).
We can glean from geography as well as from the other Gospels that Jesus did not return directly to Bethany from Ephraim.
On his way to Jericho - Luke 18:31 Jesus tells his disciples about his soon death and resurrection....
On his way to Jericho -Jesus heals a Blind Beggar (Luke 18:35-)
Entering Jericho - Jesus meets a “wee little man” name… Zacheus (Luke 19)
Leaving Jericho - Blind Bartimaeus (Matt. 20:29-43/ Mk. 10:46-52) Miraculously recovering his sight… and he followed Jesus on the way
Along the way to Bethany and Jerusalem.... Mark records several events when Jesus told his disciples that he was going to die.... and that he would rise after 3 days.
(But… they still really don’t get it. It wouldn’t be until after his crucifixion that the disciples, reflecting back on all that had happened, are able to put all the pieces together.)
Entering Bethany - Celebration meal with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at the home of Simon the Leper (Matt. 26:6-13/ Mk. 14:3-8/ Jn. 12)
That brings us to the event recorded for us here in John 12. Now that Jesus is back in Bethany… M1
Let’s look at three “profiles of Love” that illustrate what it means to live a life “Poured Out” for Christ.
I. Profiles of Love: A Life Poured Out (What it looks like when we believe and give our all for the building of Christ’s Kingdom.)
The first Profile we come across in the text is is Martha.
A. Martha: Busy Hands… Worshipping Heart (2)
Martha shows us what it looks like to truly worship the Lord through our service to Christ.
John 12:2 ESV
So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.
Everyone is present. Martha, Mary, Lazarus, Simon (formerly the Leper), Jesus, the disciples and probably others that we are not told about.
This dinner was most likely being given in celebration of Lazarus’ resurrection.... as a thank you to Jesus.
Martha was there doing what she loved.... serving. She was in her element. She was a guest in Simon’s home, but she was the one coordinating the event.
No doubt, like any other events coordinator, she would have been busy making sure that everything was just perfect. I’m sure that Martha used her best recipes, as she decorated the table with a feast of favorite dishes.
Martha was in her element… and everyone was happy.
This is not the first dinner recorded for us in the Bible that Martha coordinates. Turn back with me to Luke 10:40-42. Here is an event where Martha was hosting Jesus.
The event described in John 12 is a joy for Martha, the event described in Luke 10 ended up being an embarrassment. What had changed?
In Luke 10: 41-42 we are told of the time that Martha complained that Mary was not helping her… and just sitting there at Jesus’ feet. Jesus lovingly helped her to grow by saying,
Luke 10:41–42 ESV
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
What makes this event recorded for us in Luke 10 different from the one we are studying today in John 12?
The difference is that Martha now understood things from Jesus’ perspective. She has been confronted and taught by the truth of Christ… and she has grown spiritually… she has matured… her spiritual profile has been updated.
In Luke 10, when Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “good portion” or the “better thing”… He didn’t mean that sitting was more spiritual than serving… He didn’t mean for Martha to become a Mary.
… and a good thing too, because she was the cook! If she had stopped serving… they might have all starved!
One author I read this week brought out the fact that now Martha understood that when Jesus said that Mary had chosen “what is better”, he didn’t mean that serving in the kitchen was bad.
No, Jesus was saying that what was bad… or unhelpful… was Martha’s hurried, depressed and unhappy attitude… because it was separating her from Jesus.
At the dinner in Luke 10, Martha may have been serving the Lord… but she was not worshipping the Lord.
Now in John 12, Martha understood that service can be worship… if it is done with the right heart attitude. (Hughes)
Back in April we studied through Romans 12:1, where Paul tells us to present our bodies as “living sacrifices”… and this our spiritual worship.
Martha now knew that service was included in the understanding of true worship.
She now knew that preparing a meal can be worship, fixing a car can be worship, replacing a bicycle inner tube can be worship, taking a test in school, balancing your check book, administering your own business, or punching the time clock at 9 and 5.... can be worship..... depending on your attitude.
A certain task can be worship if done by one person… and to another the very same task can be an offense to God. What is the difference? The heart attitude of the person.
Heart attitude is always a defining factor in all that we do.
Catherine Booth, the wife of well known founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth is said to have been a remarkably gifted woman. She wholeheartedly served the Lord as day in and day out she did the humble duties of the kitchen table, busying her hands with food preparation or in the nursery when the children were going to bed or at the bedside of a sick child.... she worked day and night for God’s glory. In her biography it is said that there was a sign that hung over her kitchen table that said, “Divine services held here three times daily.”
When our heart attitudes are right… and the actions we do are in agreement with God’s word.... then we are worshipping.
Catherine booth understood that every time she made dinner, changed a diaper, or cared for sick children.
Divine services held here… Her heart attitude and desire to please the Lord led to her actions being worshipful and glorifying to God.
Just like Cathrine Booth, Martha knew that when her spirit was right, her service for the Lord was just as much worship as the dramatic outward expression of Mary’s worship… sitting at Jesus’ feet.
We have a choice. How will your spiritual profile read?
We can complain about those who are not doing their job, we can be sour… or we can serve the Lord faithfully with Love.
Martha had learned that serving the Lord faithfully with Love.... was a large part of her spiritual worship.
So, Martha’s profile would read: Busy Hands… Worshipping heart.
Next let’s look at the Profile of Lazarus: I’m back… and He did it!
B. Lazarus: I’m back… and He did it! (2, 9-11)
John 12:2 ESV
So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.
John 12:9–11 ESV
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The life of Lazarus had become a walking witness for Christ.
In movies sometimes we are shown the stories about inmates on Death Row… as they are being taken to the execution room… someone in the background always says… “Dead Man Walking”.
Lazarus’ situation would have been similar… but completely different.
When Lazarus would walk through town.... go to the market… run errands.... in my imagine I can hear people whispering… and even shouting..... ‘that’s him”.... “he was dead… now he’s a live”...... then someone shouts..... “Alive again and talking!”
Lazarus had become somewhat of a celebrity. I mean who wouldn’t want to talk with the hometown boy who had been raised from the dead.
(He would have been on Oprah, Good Morning America, Instagram, on the cover of People Magazine, Time Magazine… and all the grocery store tabloids…)
When you stop and think about Lazarus. Other than in this event, when you read through the gospels there is really nothing special about Lazarus.
Other than being raised from the dead, it doesn’t seem like he ever did anything worth being recorded.
Lazarus’ profile would have been pretty plain and boring....
But, he ended up being one of the greatest witnesses for Christ.
The answer is not in what Lazarus did for Jesus. The answer is found in what Jesus did for Lazarus.
Lazarus’ profile was made extraordinary because of the work of Jesus in his life.
Lazarus was literally a walking and talking proof that “where Jesus is… there is life”.
Lazarus was un-refutable proof that Jesus, is able to reverse death itself… merely by the power of His Word.
Many of our Spiritual Profiles probably look a lot like Lazarus’. Plain… nothing super extraordinary about us.
We too were dead in our sins.... and those of us who have responded in faith to Christ… hearing His call to “come forth”.... and have been risen to new life in Christ.... we too are now free.
And in that spiritual re-birth.... in our newly reconciled relationship with God… we become extraordinary witnesses for Jesus.
Like Lazarus, we have an opportunity to share the miracle that Jesus has done in our lives.... taking someone who was spiritually dead.... and raising us to life!
What makes us special… what makes us unique… is not what we do for Jesus.... what He has done for us!
We might not realize it… but every believer’s life has been changed just as drastically as Lazarus’. If we have been born again… if we are truly children of the King… then we have new life and are fellowshipping with Christ.... just like Lazarus was.
Our transformed lives are the greatest arguments for the Gospel… and our lives can be the most effective advertisements illustrating the Gospel.
A transformed life is an unanswerable proof of the reality of the power of Christ… the power of the Gospel.
A question to ask ourselves is… what kind of advertisement are you? Do you live your life as a clear illustration of the biblical truths about Jesus? .... or are you wearing the badge of Christian, but advertising something quite different?
Lazarus was a spiritual blessing to others. Verse 11 tells us that many believed in Jesus because of Lazarus.
Here was a guy that was alive because of Jesus! Lazarus so closely identified with Jesus (discipleship) that others believed on Jesus because of him.
Lazarus’ Profile Statement could have been… I’m back from the dead… and Jesus is the One who did it… he is responsible..... believe in Him… follow Him!
Here is a mini-application question for you: Has anyone believed on Jesus because of you? Can it be said of you, “On account of (your name here), many put their faith in Jesus? (v.11)
If we bear the name of Christian… if we wear the name tag of believer… then we need to understand that everything we do… from buying groceries… to driving… to interacting with community leaders… to talking with our neighbors.... we are representing Christ.... and we are a walking advertisement for Him.
We have been commanded to live our lives just like Lazarus… a walking witness for Christ. Conducting our lives in such a way so that as we are speaking… as we are going... as we are living… that spiritually healthy disciples of all nations are made... who are able to reproduce other disciples of Christ… in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission.
How are you doing? Are people being shown the truth of who Jesus is… and being drawn to Him… responding in faith to Jesus because of you words… and your actions?
Martha: Busy hands… worshipping heart
Lazarus: I’m Back… and He did it.
Next, let’s look at the verse 3 at the profile of Mary: Pouring it all out!
C. Mary: Pouring it all out! (3, 7-8)
John 12:3 ESV
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:7–8 ESV
Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
Mary illustrates what it means to dedicate all areas of our lives… even our treasures to Christ.
Now, as the meal progressed and the evening moved on Mary leaves the room.
What Mary does next may have very well been influenced by what another woman did, at another dinner party back in Luke 7:36-38.
Luke 7:36–38 ESV
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
No doubt, Mary had this image in her mind when she leaves the room and brings back what verse 3 calls “a pound of expensive ointment of made from pure nard”.
She probably was thinking.... ‘I want to do the same thing for Jesus. I want him to know how much I love him’. It was a calculated act.... Mary knew exactly what she was doing.
If we were to build a spiritual profile of Mary based on her actions, what would we learn?
We would learn that her action was very costly.
Nard was a fragrant oil/ perfume taken from the root of a plant native to the mountains of northern India. Perfume made form nard was very costly and had to be imported from very far away. It had a great value, especially it if was pure in quality.
Judas estimates the cost of the ointment for us in verse 5 to be about 300 denarii (1 denarius was a full day’s wage).
If minimum wage is $8.55 an hour.... based on an 8 hour work day, it would come to about $20,520 USD.
I struggle with buying a $20.00 bottle of on sale cologne at bath and body works…
Mary took a bottle of perfume worth Over $20,000 dollars and poured it onto Jesus’ dusty feet.
What had Mary done? She had given her most treasured possession to Jesus.
Martha had poured out her time and talents for Jesus... Lazarus had poured out his testimony for Jesus… Mary has poured out her treasures for Jesus.
Mary humbly gave her best to Jesus.... and the text tells us that she got down on her knees… and wiped the ointment all over Jesus’ feet with her hair.
In that culture, a woman’s hair was symbolic of her glory. Mary lavishes Jesus’ feet with her glory!
Mary was self-less… She was passionate.
And notice that Jesus does not stop Mary. Mary is passionately expressing her love for Christ and her worship of Christ.
There are times like this when we need to show our emotions… we need to show how passionately we love Jesus… and worship Him. There are times when we need to let our tears fall as an expression of our deep love, appreciation and worship of Christ.
When doubters and haters question what Mary had done.... Jesus responds to Mary’s worship in a parallel passage found in Matthew 26:10, by saying… “She has done a beautiful thing to me”.
Why did Mary do this beautiful thing to Jesus?
Because she loved Him. Because she was sold out for Jesus. Because she was 110% all in… fully dedication to Christ.
If Mary’s actions were recorded in her profile by-line… they would read
“Mary: Pouring it All Out for Jesus!”
What are the results of a life fully dedicated to Christ… a life fully poured out for Jesus?
In verse 3, John tells us that “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”.
Mary didn’t just spritz Jesus with this costly stuff. No, she broke the whole container and let it all pour out. She held nothing back!
One author said...“The aroma of Christ, so honoring to him and so refreshing to others, does not occur when we give him half our heart or half our pocketbook or half our talents or half our ambition or half our lives. It comes by giving him everything.” (Hughes)
Let’s think about this picture for a minute.
Mary wiping Jesus’ feet with this costly perfume… with her hair.
We are not told what happens when she is done… but based on how their culture was structured she most likely she got up and helped Martha with the serving. Imagine her doing this… and as she walks throughout the house… imagine how the smell of the perfume would have followed her… filling each room.
Mary’s completely self-less act given to Jesus turns out to be the very way that the aroma of glory is spread to others.
As Mary humbly gave herself, with no thought of her own glory… she becomes the very means by which the blessing is spread to others.
Here is another point of mini application:
What would we give for Jesus? What is our most valuable possession? For some of us it is our bank account… for others it is a position, our talents, our time … or a relationship.
The question this text asks us is.... would we give it? Will we make it available for Jesus’ use?
Examine your life this week.... are you a blessing to others?
When you interact with other people… can they smell the beautiful aroma of Christ?
I hope so. That is something for us to strive for.... coming before Jesus… giving our all to Him.... pouring out our lives before Him.
These events recorded in John 12 are an illustration of what happens when Jesus touches the lives of those around him.
No matter how long you are saved… no matter how much you serve… no matter how shallow.... or deep your relationship is with Jesus.... We should never grow tired of this truth....
Christ has changed our lives!
If Jesus has truly changed your life… … then everywhere you go… people should be able to smell the aroma.... of a life poured out.... at the feet of Jesus.
As Mary demonstrates this amazing love for Christ… as Mary shows us what it means to live a life worth pouring… everyone saw it… except one person.
As Mary was pouring out her heart… her time, her treasures… for Christ… all Judas saw was a waste.
Next, John presents us with Judas’ profile, which stands in stark contrast to Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus have profiles that illustrate a love for Christ.
Judas’ profile suggests a different perspective… one of Hate.
This passage shows us that the profile perspectives of Judas and the Chief Priests were shaped by self-interest, greed and a hatred for anything… and anyone that would threaten their kingdoms.
When there is no truth based love for Christ.... hate, greed, selfishness.... and more are given an opportunity to incubate in our hearts.
Next we are presented with a profile that does not pour out the blessings of life driven by love… but instead tries to bottle everything up.... driven by hate and greed… until that precious gift of life and blessing eventually evaporates away.
II. A Profile of Hate: An Investement Evaporated
The profile of Judas and the Chief Priests illustrate what happens when we refuse to believe… and live life for ourselves.... reserving all for the benefit of our kingdoms.
Mary gives us a beautiful example of what it looks like to live a life worth pouring. She literally poured out all that she had in order to serve the Lord, worship the Lord, and see His kingdom built.
Judas and the Chief Priests are a different story.
“Mary was a selfless, giving believer, but Judas was a selfish, greedy materialist! To the heart that has never met God, worship seems a most impractical, wasteful pursuit. Judas is a profile of Hell.” (Hughes/ Boice)
Judas and the Chief priests illustrate the dangers of worldly materialism… and how too often it’s pursuit is at the cost of everything. Their profile would read: “Worldly Materialism… by any means necessary”.
A. Worldly Materialism… by any means necessary (4-6, 9-11)
John 12:4–6 ESV
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.
Judas demonstrates what it looks like to keep everything bottled up… keep everything for yourself.... take advantage of every situation.... don’t give… don’t serve… just keep it all!
Materialism says.... keep it all in… don’t share… don’t serve… just look out for number 1… and learn to hate anyone… or anything that threatens your kingdom!!!
Matthew 26:15 tells us that Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. Those 30 pieces of silver would be worth about $600 today.
Judas’ greed and self-interest drove him to sell Jesus out for $600.
Materialism tells you … do whatever it takes to get what you want.
But, what materialism doesn’t tell you is that.... in the end, when you have stock piled all of your riches, talents, and time.... eventually they will all simply evaporate away!
Judas learned this the hard way.... when Jesus was sentenced to be crucified.... becoming convicted that what he had done was wrong… Matthew 27 tells us that Judas ends up taking his own life.... when faced with the reality of what he had done…
The Chief Priests are no better than Judas. In verse 10, we are told that they not only wanted to have Jesus killed.. but they were planning on killing Lazarus too!
All because people were believing Jesus because of him.
Jesus was loved by some… and hated by others.
That is still true today.
Sometimes it can be dangerous to take a stand for Christ.... but it is so worth it.
Just like Mary, Martha and Lazarus.... when we follow Christ.... and have our lives transformed by Him.... we will share in the same experience...
Some people will love us in response to seeing our faith.... others will hate us because of our faith.
Conclusion/ Application:
Whether we realize it or not, each of us has a spiritual profile.
When people look at your “Spiritual Profile”… what do they see?
Can others tell that you have been with Jesus? Can they smell the aroma of Jesus on you?
Does your spiritual profile reflect the reality that others have believed on Jesus because of your testimony?
When you check your own spiritual profile status… Can you say that you are living a life poured out for the sake of the gospel.... worthy of the gospel?
Maybe when you examine your self, you (and others) find that there are things that are unhelpful or even damaging to the cause of Christ?
Does your life reflect anything that is hindering or damaging to the testimony of Christ?
Are you living a life worth pouring?
If not… that can change today!
It begins with a heart change towards Christ.... coming to the feet of Jesus responding to Him in faith… dedicating all that we are and all that we have to Him.
Remember… Jesus is the One who changes our lives.
And, What we say and do is a direct reflection of the truth that Jesus has changed us and we belong to Him! Our thoughts and our actions area reflection of our worship of and dedication to Christ.
What are your thoughts and actions reflecting?
Martha reflected her love for Christ through worshipping by serving with the right heart attitude.
Mary reflected her love and dedication to Christ by giving all she had… her life… her attention… her time… her treasures.... she gave her best… and she gave all of it to Jesus.
Lazarus’ life was so radically changed by Jesus… that he was a walking witness for Him.... the results.... many people believed in Jesus because of Lazarus.
Main idea:
The Presence of Christ changes our lives!
Our thoughts and actions are a reflection of the reality that Jesus has changed us.
What we say and do is a direct reflection of the One whom we love and serve.
Intended Response:
Be all in! Give yourself fully to the Lord…. don’t hold anything back!
Actively and Faithfully Serve the Lord as a reflection of your Spiritual Worship
Live your life as a Walking Witness, testifying to the truths of Christ and the power of the Gospel.
Pour out your life for Christ! Give your time, treasures, talents all to Christ! Don’t hold anything back!
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