Date: July 13, 2014
Series: Lessons Learned at the Table with Jesus
Today’s Sermon Title: Forget the Poor for a Minute
Text: John 12:7-8
Thesis/Premise (The Propositional truth being presented): Nothing or no one can ever become more important to us than Jesus Christ.
Mission Statement (What you need to know): As noble and necessary as good works are and as right and proper as knowing our calling and fulfilling it in a ministry, these things must never come before our relationship with Jesus Christ and declaring His Gospel.
Vision Statement (What God sees for you as a result of this message): For this message to be a win the following must happen: You must leave here with nothing between you and Jesus Christ.
Introduction // Background
- John 12:1-3 gives a short account of a meal that Jesus enjoyed with his disciples and some close friends. The account is short but pregnant with many special emotions.
- MARTHA – Heavenly Alchemy – turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and eternal by serving “as unto the Lord”
- LAZURUS – The lesson of “fellowship” (two fellows in the same boat) learning to live our lives at the pace of Jesus by being content and satisfied in Him.
- MARY – The lesson of becoming Jesus by so identifying with him that we “smell” like him. We capture his heart and show it to the world.
- John 12:4-7 “But Judas” // the cloud on the parade; the stink bomb in the crowded room // Judas messed it all up because he was on the road to perdition—associating with Jesus yet living in willful sin.
- But here’s the tough part. Whatever the reason, Judas asked a good question: 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
o You’ve heard me preach from this pulpit how we should live “missionary” lifestyles by leveraging our time, our resources, our money, our talents, and our lives in Christian service.
o We celebrate people at the FMCOG who feed the poor, help the needy and infirmed, visit those in prison, cloth the naked and leave us as full-time missionaries.
o Sonja and I, like many of you, give monthly toward helping the needy dig wells and have fresh water.
o After all, it was Jesus who said in Matthew 25:37-46 (read from bible):
o And then there is the half-brother of Jesus who is quoted at every mission’s service:
James 1:27 (NKJV) Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
o And this is just a sampling of the many passages throughout the bible that shows God’s passionate concern for justice and for defending the weak and the poor.
- So to be honest with you, today’s passage puts me in the awkward and uncomfortable position of being more in agreement with Judas than I am with Jesus; and I suspect there are many of you who are also standing with me.
- So, what is it that Jesus is trying to teach us through his remarks?
What You Need to Know
- (The Central Truth Stated) Nothing or no one must ever become more important to us than Jesus Christ.
- We get this—riches, fame, power, prestige, comfort, pleasure, work, friendships, even home and hearth; we understand that none of these things must come between us and our relationship with Jesus Christ.
- But what about…
- Good works must not become more important to us than Jesus Christ.
- RE: Giving to the poor and other “good works” // overt Christian charity
- Ministry & Calling must not become more important to us than Jesus Christ.
- RE: Judas—as a disciple and the treasurer of the group (assuming he was righteous) had a ministry and calling; but Jesus was teaching that he was still wrong—Jesus comes before ministry and calling.
As noble and necessary as good works are and as right and proper as knowing our calling and fulfilling it in a ministry, these things must never come before our relationship with Jesus Christ and declaring His Gospel.
What We Must Do
(What specifically we must do to be obedient to the Word for the House):
- Those with a strong sense of ministry in their lives must be able to say they are doing what they do as an overflow of their passion and love for Jesus Christ and a zeal to promote and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the hopes that lost will come to salvation.
- I must warn us of the tendency for our ministry to take the place of Jesus.
Here’s the process:
1) We are saved and come to a deep and passionate commitment to serve Jesus based on our love and gratitude to Him.
2) Little by little our ministry begins to “feed” us. It feeds our desire to be significant and to be doing something of significance.
3) Jesus is pushed further and further into the background and our ministry becomes the dominating passion and priority, i.e. growing the ministry, maintaining the ministry, funding the ministry, etc.
- A sign that this is happening is when our prayers are more about Jesus helping us than us serving him (Martha) and fellowshipping with him (Lazarus) and being Jesus (having his heart)
- NOTE: Tie in volunteers, i.e. choir, teachers, etc. // working in the church (or Christian orgs.) for the joy of the work vs. the overflow of your devotion to Jesus Christ
Questions that Jesus is asking you:
“Do you love me more than these?” (Before Peter was commissioned he had to settle that issue)
“Are you more concerned about reaching the lost than maintaining your ministry?
- My “secular” Christians—those who measure things in terms of dollars and cents and in terms of their career and their family plans, etc. (Judases)—you must be brought to the point of laying all that at the feet of Jesus. Your greatest joy and most recognizable characteristic must become being known as a Christian—a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
Questions that must be answered:
What does God have to do get you to make Jesus the number one in your life and the center of all you do? (What must he take because you want give it?, etc.)
What must God do to give you a good enough testimony that you will be a witness of Jesus Christ? What has he already done that you are not praising him for. You’ve “loved him and moved on.”
- The unsaved: Measure Christianity based on one thing—Jesus Christ. What about him?
- Not: Are Christians hypocrites (yes all of us are to a degree).
- Not: Are Christians leveraging their funds and resources (in your way of thinking) for the greatest of the “poor”.
- The Church will always fail you in these measurements (Just like Mary disappointed Judas), but they are not the measurements that matters. The measurement that matters is: What are you going to do about Jesus?
(Who must come forward)
People who need to work on their “marriage” (their marriage to Jesus Christ):
- We get this with earthly marriage. A good marriage is not an accident; a great marriage is a miracle—and I mean that; only with God’s hand can to different people become “one flesh”.
- The same is true in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
o Being a good Christian requires our effort, i.e. discipline in cultivating our relationship with Jesus.
o Being a great Christian requires a miracle—walking in the Spirit. (The second only occurs when the first is done well.)
- Remember, there are two great pains in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. You get to choose between the two, but you do not get to choose the consequences—they’re determined by God.
- There will be days that taking yourself by the collar and making yourself sit down with an open Bible and a prayer journal will feel akin to a cold shower in January or a dentist doing a root canal on you—but you must do it!
- I feel urgency here. Jesus is preparing his bride and his bride will be without “spot” or “wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27)
- The days of easy Christianity is over.
- Example: My wife is reading a book right now where the author grew up in the home of atheist parents. But every Monday she’d go to school and the teacher polled the class by asking each one individually, “OK ‘Johnny/Suzie, etc.’ did you go to church Sunday? Tell me what you learned.” She felt so bad to have to always so “no” so she begged her parents week after week to take her to church. Finally they took her to a Unitarian Church (which is no church at all); but that school teacher started her on the journey to becoming a Christian. That will not happen now.
- Example of “abomination” (something that is wicked to the extreme // it is especially repulsive to God)
- What is the link between these? They all damage, distort, mock and revile the image of God, i.e. “male and female create He them” (Man in his own image)
- Application: Could it be that our good works and ministry could become an abomination because we corrupt what it is supposed to mean?
Matthew 7:22-24 (NKJV) Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
- Forget the poor for a minute and answer the questions…
- “Do you love me?” (Before Peter was commissioned he had to settle that issue)
- Are you more concerned about reaching the lost than maintaining your ministry?
- What does God have to do get you to make Jesus the number one in your life and the center of all you do? (What must he take because you want give it?, etc.)
- What must God do to give you a good enough testimony that you will be a witness of Jesus Christ? What has he already done that you are not praising him for. You’ve “loved him and moved on.”
- Bottom line: What are you going to do about Jesus?