FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
Faith and discipleship are not ideal realms, what we might like to be and do; they are absolute realities, who we are and what we are able to give. In Jesus' sight an act has value according to its motive and intent, and that--not its material value--is what makes it serviceable in the Kingdom of God. When one acts thus, no gift, not even a mere two lepta (Mark 12:41-44), is meaningless; and no gift, even a year's salary, is wasted. - James Edwards commenting on Mark 14:1-11
Confession of Sin:
Prayer of Confession
God of mercy, we humbly confess our need of your pardoning grace. We shelter arrogance and pride in our hearts and believe that our efforts are good enough to secure what only you can give us. We are quick to judge and grumble when our plans, pleasures, and preferences are threatened. We are slow to offer mercy, both inwardly and outwardly, towards those people you have placed in our lives and called us to love. Forgive our self-righteousness and our self-absorption. Fix our eyes on our savior, Jesus Christ, that we may become enraptured with Him, for it’s in his name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
[B]ut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Confession of Faith: The Children’s Catechism Question 76-83
Q. 76. How many commandments did God give on Mount Sinai?
A. Ten Commandments.
Q. 77. Why should we obey the Ten Commandments?
A. Because God is our Creator, Savior and King.
Q. 78. What do the first four commandments teach?
A. What it means to love and serve God.
Q. 79. What do the last six commandments teach?
A. What it means to love and serve my neighbor.
Q. 80. What do the Ten Commandments teach?
A. To love God with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself.
Q. 81. Who is your neighbor?
A. Everybody is my neighbor.
Q. 82. Is God pleased with those who love and obey him?
A. Yes. God says, “I love those who love me.” (Prov. 8:17)
Q. 83. Is God displeased with those who do not love and obey him?
A. Yes. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Ps. 7:11)
Sermon Text: Mark 14:1-11
1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.
- The definition of faith (v. 3)
- The significance of faith (v. 4-8)
- The eyes of faith (v. 6-9)
Chapter 14 marks a new section and the final section in Mark's gospel. After a series of debates with the Religious Leaders in the Temple in Jerusalem, the story of Jesus now takes a more sinister turn. The chapter opens with the intention of the Religious Leaders to kill Jesus (v. 1-2) coupled with Judas Iscariot's willingness to betray Jesus to them (v. 10-11).
However, sandwiched in between, is a remarkable story of faith in and love for Jesus not by a Religious Leader or even one of Jesus' disciples but by an unnamed woman who receives Jesus' highest commendation (v. 9). We see three things from this story about faith in Jesus.
First we learn what faith is - pouring out on Jesus all that matters most to us because he is that precious to us. While reclining at table, the woman pours out her precious ointment all over Jesus. Mark tells us the ointment was very costly and those looking on valued it at a year's worth of wages. This was no ordinary flask of perfumed ointment. This was most likely a family heirloom that was passed down from generation to generation, like an inheritance. It told a story about where she was from and promised a measure of security for the future. Flasks such as these were single use items because they were sealed up to preserve the precious ingredients inside and were only ever used on the most special of occasions. In the eyes of this woman Jesus was THE special occasion! The woman's anointing of Jesus with her most precious possession serves as an acted parable of faith. One writer comments, "She had poured out her future and her security on Jesus." (Ferguson) Do you see what kind of faith the Gospel creates? It creates a total transfer of all our trust and confidence from ourselves, our possessions, and even other people to Jesus and him alone!
Second we learn the significance of faith from the responses we see in the passage. Those looking on berate this woman for, in their estimation, wasting something so valuable when it could have been put to better use (v. 4-5). However, Jesus comes to her defense and says she did a beautiful thing to him. The others - including the twelve disciples - viewed this woman as a fanatic. She was taking her religion too seriously. But Jesus doesn't see it that way. He says, "she did all she could (v. 8)." When contrasted, the woman and the other dinner guests highlight the all important question. How valuable is Jesus to you? Is he your greatest treasure and therefore worthy of all your treasure? Gospel faith always looks strange from the outside. It even looks fanatical. But to Jesus it is beautiful and he always nurtures it...in whatever form it comes.
Third faith sees what others don't. The central charge against this woman was at best neglect of the poor and at worst injustice toward the poor. It is difficult not to see a thread of irony when the concern for the poor in verse 5 is compared to Judas' willingness to betray Jesus for money in verse 11. However, what does the woman see through the eyes of faith that no-one else sees? Jesus points the way to the answer in verse 7. "For you always have the poor with you...but you will not always have me." The woman recognized in Jesus the one who has and would give up all for her (Mk. 10:45; Phil. 2:8). In other words, the woman did give to the poor. She understood the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9; Psalm 41:9). This is the reason why Jesus commends her and promises that wherever the gospel is preached, her story will be told in memory of her. Is Jesus saying that somehow she earned her salvation through her gift and that's why he honors her? Absolutely not! Rather, the point is that her response to Jesus tells the story of free grace through the response of faith, of unmerited favor. Or to put it another way, her life points to the cross of Jesus Christ and the good news it brings to undeserving sinners.
Does your life do that? If not, why not? What do you think you either don't yet understand or all too often forget that prevents you from seeing the beauty and the poverty of Jesus for you? What would it take for you to be able to daily pour out your future and your security on him? How would your life be different if you did?
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- How would you define religion based on the response of those looking on?
- How would you define faith based on the gift of the woman?
- Why do you think Mark sandwiches this story of the woman anointing Jesus in between the plot to kill and betray Jesus?
How precious is Jesus to you? Are there specific things he said or did or promised that lead you to delight in him? Have you ever had an experience of faith like the woman we read about in Mark 14:1-11? How does that happen? Or to ask the question slightly differently, how does one grow in love for Jesus? There is really only one answer: to meditate on and delight in the person, words, and work of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are asking, "How do I do that?" Well the simplest way is to read the scriptures and ask God to show you the glory of Jesus. What if you need help to do that? Let me suggest to you this very readable and yet substantial little book on deepening your love for Jesus.
Songs for this week:
Arise, My Soul, Arise
God of My Life, to Thee I Call
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
Thy Will Be Done
Sermon passage for this week: Mark 14:12-42
Until next time,
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.