THE SWEET SMELLING SAVOR, #658
There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (JOH 12:2-3).
For three years our Saviour's public ministry continued to reveal the distinction between those who have that blessed spirit of self-sacrificial love and the self- righteous hypocrite. The more the truth comes to the hypocrite, the more furious their envy and their jealousy become, because the light is a condemnation to the hypocrite.
This hatred for Jesus accelerated to the point that even one of His own inner circle of chosen apostles was provoked by the love shown by Mary to betray Jesus to His enemies. Nothing provoked Judas more than the love and appreciation that was demonstrated by those who loved Him. JOH 12:4-6 says, "Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." The odor of the ointment drove Judas out. That odor of self-sacrificial love. That odor of a repenting Mary wiping His feet with her hair. It was an odor that Judas could not bear.
Jesus graciously reproved him in MAT 26:10-15. "When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me? And I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver." Jesus' reproof set forth that her love would be a memorial that would be spoken of over the whole world, and that made him burn with jealousy. He had to get some money in that bag, and he did not get it from the costly spikenard, so he would get it by selling his Saviour's life.
We see that Mary, Martha and Lazarus each showed their love for the Saviour in a different way. Everyone is not going to serve Christ in the exact same manner. Our Saviour's gracious rebuke for Martha's anxiety in serving was not a reproof for serving. LUK 10:40-42 says, "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Jesus is being served and their admiration for the Person of Christ is what makes their service acceptable.
In God's economy of grace, our Lord has placed each in the respective place of His sovereign good will. Would it not be something if every person on earth were schoolteachers and nobody put the food on the table. We see such perfect harmony that there is someone to supply every need. This is what we see demonstrated here. .
If everyone was a pastor, no one would be in the pews, but if there were no pastors neither would there be anyone in the pews. The Lord has inclined every person to serve in a place of His ordaining. 1CO 12:15-20 says, "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body."
Everybody cannot be called to do the same thing. Every person has their own calling. So each person (man or woman) must serve according to his or her ability and calling. Some people may feel that they have a calling to this or that, but do not have the ability. Therefore, that is not their calling.
JOH 12:2 says that "Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him." How was he serving Christ by sitting at the table with Him? 1CO 10:31 says, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." So, it is not impossible to eat and drink to the glory of God. Christ's purpose in the resurrection of Lazarus was that God and the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Lazarus glorified God and Christ by sitting at the table eating and drinking with Him.
His eating in their presence proved that He was not a spirit. It proved that He indeed was raised from the dead.
Some cannot seem to accomplish much for the glory of their Saviour. What are you and I really doing for the glory of God? A Godly life, patient suffering, quiet holiness and self-sacrificial love in the Spirit of Christ are great witnesses for Jesus and His glory. We do not all have the same calling. Everyone is not going to be an Apostle Peter. Everyone is not going to be an Apostle Paul.
What could Mary do for the glory of her Lord and Saviour? She was not needed in the kitchen, and her brother Lazarus occupied a place at the table. Mary knew it was the usual custom to anoint with ointment guests of special honor. She took a station that had not been filled by the other two.
LUK 7:44-46 says, "And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment."
By so doing she expressed her love for her Lord. Do you see the sense of worship by the fact that she was anointing not only His head but His feet with ointment? Verse 47 says, "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." The hypocrite failed even the minimum and that was to anoint His head with oil. Not only with oil, but she anointed Him with costly ointment. Simon was saying within himself, Well, if He knew what manner of woman this was, He would not let her do this. The problem was that Simon was a sinner, but he did not know it. He was self-righteous.
The service of these three guests made our Saviour a complete feast. Our Saviour had His places and times of pleasure and enjoyment. The God of heaven is so pleased when He sees the Spirit of Christ in one of His sheep. Until we learn what it is to sit at our Saviour's feet, we will never understand what it is to anoint them with oil. We will never anoint our Saviour's feet with oil while we are standing up as a Pharisee in the Temple boasting of who we are. Mary took a pound of ointment and poured it all on Jesus feet. We must put all at His feet. We cannot reserve half like Ananias and Sapphira did. Such a halfhearted love for Christ as Judas had is of no value. Mary's love was wholehearted. She did not use half the ointment to anoint our Saviour's feet; she used the whole pound. This teaches us a great lesson. We must place everything at His feet.
When we pour our all upon the feet of Jesus, we cannot be concerned of the frowns of Judas, nor do we do it for the praise of men. Mary did not do this to be honored. She was honored because she did it. There is a great difference. The Lord Jesus honored her, and He said that it would be told as a memorial wherever the Gospel is preached. The Lord looks at our motives. The Pharisee who stood in the temple boasting that he was not as other men, would have cried out, "Spikenard, very costly spikenard!" He would have brought attention to himself. Mary did not do this. She poured it all on Jesus' feet, and that is when "the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." The house was filled with such a humble spirit of Godliness.
The power of genuine Godliness is most influential, but the odor of hypocrisy betrays the hypocrite. LUK 18:11-12 says, "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." There is the difference between the hypocrite and the true Godly person. Those who are truly Godly go into their secret closets and they pray to God in secret, and He rewards them openly. The odor of the hypocrite fills the house too. Everyone in the room can smell the odor of such hypocrisy, and the odor that is a sweet smelling savor before the Lord.
REV 8:3-4 says, "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."
The prayer of that despised publican was as incense that ascended up before God. It was not the prayer of the hypocrite. LUK 18:13-14 says, "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
The Gospel of Christ goes on to such an extent to distinguish between the right attitude of the heart, what causes you to bring about your actions. When we can see our own sins better than the sins of our neighbor we will begin to understand what these verses teach us.
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