Saturday, November 21, 2009

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Cup Which My Father Hath Given Me, Shall I Not Drink It?

“Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11.
Never was there a more sobering question put forth to any man. The question was asked of Simon but it was not his to answer. It was as though Jesus’ question might have gone forth into all the earth; into heaven; into all of His universe. The question was unfathomable. It was a matter of life and death. If we would live, Christ must drink of the Cup, thus dying in our stead. If He did not, the promise of Eternal Life for Adam and his seed would be made void; terminated. Up to this time Jesus had been in total obedience to His Father. I shutter to think of the repercussions had He declined to drink the Cup which the Father had given Him. But it did not happen; it could not happen!
“Then came Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. . .And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. . .He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” Matt. 26:36,39,42,44. Often Jesus had said, Mine hour is not yet come; but now - “behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” vs. 45.
“Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth. . .Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. . .Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:3,4,10,11. This said Jesus, knowing all things that should come upon him. He knew full well all that was in the cup. Knowing of the suffering that awaited Him; knowing of His crucifixion; knowing of His death - He could say as Job said almost two millenniums before: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him” Job 13:15.
Jesus knew and had already experienced being “despised and rejected of men,” He knew what is was to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He was well aware that He would momentarily be “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities;” He would “bare our grief, carry our sorrows.” He knew that the hour was at hand for Him to drink the Cup; that the Lord was laying upon Him the iniquity of us all; that God would bruise Him, putting Him to grief; making His soul an offering for sin. He would in the Day that He drank the Cup, be cut off out of the land of the living; making His grave with the wicked. He knew that He was to be stricken for our transgressions; His soul made an offering for sin. He would knowingly, willingly pour out His soul unto death, to bear the sin of many; to make intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53)
The Cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? In drinking of the cup, Jesus, in our stead, took upon Himself the condemnation and penalty of the Law of Sin and Death. To Adam was given this charge: In the day that thou eatest, thou shalt surely die. Though the law was issued to Adam in Eden’s garden, did God not intercede in providing Himself a Lamb: did He not shed the first blood, clothing Adam and Eve, picturing the Lamb who would give His life in their stead? Understand that Christ fulfilled the Law of Sin and Death: in the Day that He partook of the fruit of the first Adam, He, the Second Adam, drank the cup of Adam’s [and our] iniquities: “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” II Cor. 5:21. Symbolically, though in a very literal sense, Jesus must have been the ultimate object when God said, In the Day that thou eatest, thou shalt surely die! In the Day that He partook of the cup which the Father gave Him - He died.
In laying the foundation for what has just been said, let us continue following the scriptures: what did God do after Adam and Eve yielding to the beguiling serpent?
“And the Lord said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” Gen. 3:14-15. Was this not fulfilled at the cross?
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:14-15. Christ made of himself no reputation; he humbled himself; he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross - “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” Phil. 2:9. The serpent as the servant of Satan, being ‘lifted up’ in himself, was brought low to the ground. Though a subtle and beautiful creature, he was cursed and brought lower than all other creatures. ( We might picture Judas Iscariot also as Satan’s ‘serpent’: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him. That thou doest, do quickly” John 13:27.) Satan had been highly exalted, given a name, Lucifer, son of the morning. But he betrayed the Lord. “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell. . . .Thou art cast out” Isa. 14:15,19a.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This picture or symbol ultimately speaks of the cross. Satan would go down in defeat; Christ would be victorious! It is prophesy. But what of a previous prophesy? “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” Gen. 2:17. It is true, Adam became “dead in trespasses and sins.” To Adam God said, cursed is the ground. . .thou shalt eat of it. . .thou shalt eat of the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died” Gen. 5:4. One may say, Well, a day with the Lord is as a thousand years! Therefore Adam died within the Lord’s “Day!”
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” Genesis 3:21. God provided for Himself a Lamb. He shed the first blood; the life of that (His) Lamb was in the blood. Without the shedding of blood is no remission [of sin.] God shed the Last Blood, that of His own Son, His own Lamb. Adam was clothed with the innocence of God’s sacrificial offering. We are likewise clothed in the Righteousness of the Lord Jesus, God’s only begotten Son; the Lamb of God. These things we hold as true. Christ is seen in every instance. The cross is portrayed; and the blood of Christ shed by the instrumentation of man and by God Himself: it was [is] freely offered upon the Mercy Seat which is upon the Ark of the Covenant by Christ, our High Priest. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died fore our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” I Cor. 15:3,4.
What do the Old Testament scriptures reveal concerning the Cup?
In Jeremiah chapter sixteen and verse seven we see “the cup of consolation.” Again, “For this saith the Lord God of Israel unto me, Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it” Jer. 25:15.
In Ezekiel chapter fifteen: “I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols. Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand. Thus saith the Lord God; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in much derision; it containeth much. Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation” vs. 30-33.
The Cup of wrath and of judgment.: “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out and drink them” Psalm 75:8.
“Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hath drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out. Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again” Isa. 51:17,21-22.
The cup of the Lord’s fury? The dregs of the cup of trembling? He has taken it out of the hands of His people and given it into the hands of the Son. Has not the Lord God put the Cup to the lips of His only begotten Son? He, Christ Jesus our Lord, has drunk it in their [our] stead.
“For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places, he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of God” Isa. 51:3.
“And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand. . .Thou art my people” Isa. 51:16.
One other thing regarding the Cup. Jesus knew all things that should come upon Him. He knew that for Him to drink the Cup meant His being forsaken by the Father. For a further study on this topic, please read Gleanings From the Cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It can be found at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not My Will But Thine Be Done

For many years I have watched, I have heard, ‘certain’ TV preachers and evangelists preach their sermons and then close with ‘their invitation’: “I’M going to ask you to make a decision.” “Receive Jesus as your personal Saviour.” I’M going to ask you to make a commitment.” “I’M asking you to give your heart to Jesus” “The choice is yours.” “Will you choose to accept Jesus as your Savior?” The influence of a few becomes law for the multitude. Now it is religiously correct to follow their leadership. I saw the son of one of these men giving an interview a short time ago and heard him speak of ‘My father’s invitation.’ When I AM calls, respond to the ‘invitation!’ That of which we speak is more than an ‘invitation;’ it is a command! “But now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained [Christ Jesus]” Acts 17:30b, 31a. “Ye must be born again” is not given as an option: Come, but only if you desire to! No, to refuse the command when the Creator and King of kings, and Lord of lords calls you, is in direct disobedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and warrants His judgment against you.
“Is man’s will really the focus of salvation? Is he in the driver’s seat? Is he in control of the situation? “God voted for me to be saved. Satan voted for me to be lost - and it was the casting of my vote that broke the tie!” (The doctrine of election. How is it that God has become the One who is elected?) It would appear (at least in the minds of many) that God stands helplessly by, waiting to see what man will do. Jesus sits mournfully at the right hand of the Father wringing His hands: “Well, I’ve done all I know to do! I died on the cross for them; now it’s in their hands!”
“Salvation involves a choice!” Yes it does! It was the choice of the Father to give His Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. It was the choice of the Son to die in my stead. Oh Lamb of God, I come! I come! In faith and in an act of obedience to the will of God who has drawn me, I come! I resist His call no longer. I cease my struggle against Him. I yield myself unto God: It is, Not my will, but Thine be done!
“Not my will.” Does my having a ‘will’ make me a god? Am I enthroned on a pedestal? Am I given authority over my life; am I the supreme ruler? I have a will; therefore I am responsible to neither God nor man! This mentality is wrong, dead wrong. Having a will makes me responsible. Adam had a will. He was responsible to God for his choices, for his actions. Adam made ‘decisions,’ he became lord over his life: I WILL do that which I determine is right for me! What does having a will do for the natural man? It renders him a creature who by his own volition becomes self-righteous. What was the will of God for Adam? It was that he be obedient to the purpose and will of his Lord. When God instructed Adam that he not eat of the forbidden fruit, Adam should first have acknowledged that he HAD a will, then willfully set aside that will: Lord God, NOT MY WILL! Adam, by the mercies of God, present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. . .be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, WILL OF GOD! Adam should have responded to God; NOT MY WILL, but THINE be done!

All should be familiar with the passage concerning Joshua and Israel. In chapter 24 and verses one through thirteen, God rehearses His deliverance of the Israelites, then presents a challenge: “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24;14-15. Israel could choose between the various gods; who to elect to office. But Joshua will not ‘choose’ to elect his God. He will rather obey the God who chose him! Not my will but Thine be done!
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I WILL in no wise cast out.” What does the very next verse say? “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” “Not my will, but thine be done!
Is Jesus the Christ; is He Lord; is He the very Son of God? Jesus walked the earth for more than thirty-three years; yet, without sin. A primary reason He was able to do this was His consistent, constant and faithful attitude. One might ask, “Jesus, what is your will?” He might have responded, I relinquish my will; I will acknowledge only my Father’s will for my life. I will not make any decision apart from my Father; I determine to do nothing independently of my Father’s will! Praying in Gethsemane’s garden just before giving Himself into the brutal hands of men and the crucifixion of the cross, Jesus cry remained the same: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done” Luke 22:42.
Mankind loves to make images, statues, busts, large portraits of themselves. It is the notion that we are little sovereigns (ye shall be as gods, as Satan told Adam and Eve.) To have to admit that God is sovereign - well, men would attempt to diminish His power (if only they could!) The fool hath said in his heart [ and many with their lips] NO GOD!
The voices persist. “Make a decision! Receive Jesus as your personal Saviour! Give your heart to Jesus! Give Him your life!” Oh God! How may I give my heart and life to Jesus? I am a totally depraved sinner. I am dead in trespasses and sins. I have no heart for God. It is not in my nature to desire Him.
What then are the requirements for one to be saved and justified before God? “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” Acts 20:21. Faith always finds Christ as the object of its attention. Repentance finds God as its object. Man’s will is not the object here. If men would only regard themselves as the sinners that they really are: impure, unholy, void of truth and understanding, having wicked hearts; wills distorted, lacking right discernment. My will and my rights are always subjects of lofty discussion. Repentance and faith will never come until our focus is taken off self and directed to God. Only then will the cry be, NOT MY WILL, but THINE be done. What is the will of God? “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth” I Tim. 2:3-4. Oh Lord God! My will do I wholly submit and yield into your hands! Not my will, but Thine be done! My will be done? Then I would likely be in the realm of the fires of hell, even at this moment! But “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Let it be known, I’m depending on Jesus!
Let the sinner approach the cross with this plea - Not my will, but thine be done!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hitting Rock Bottom and finding a Firm Foundation

It’s true. Many are the times that one must “hit rock bottom” before finding a “Firm Foundation!” It is when we come to the end of ourselves that we find the Solid Rock, Christ Jesus! It is when we seemingly have lost all hope that we find the “Blessed Hope!” It is when we find ourselves undeserving of any merit, that we discover the unmerited favor of the God of abundant mercy and grace.

“He [the Lord] brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings. And hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God” (Psalm 40:2,3).

Do you feel yourself in a pit, a pit so deep that you can’t see the light of day? A Christless life is one sinking in miry clay; quicksand. The more you struggle, the deeper you sink. We’ve all been there. We need deliverance; someone to lift us up out of the quicksand; someone to set our feet upon a Firm Foundation, a Solid Rock: that Rock is Jesus. The scripture continues: “and established my goings.” Have you lost your sense of direction; you don’t know where to turn? Jesus said, I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

David, the Psalmist, continues: “And hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” Have you lost the joy of living? The Lord can put a new song in your mouth and joy in your heart; praise unto our God.

You cannot save yourself. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth [exhibited, made known] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6,8.).

“Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. . .All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:4,6)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) Are these meaningless words: or are you willing to believe them? Is God the True God? Are His Words true? Are you willing to trust Him to do what He says He will do? “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Tim. 1:15).

None are Exempt. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” There is none that under-standeth, there is none that seeketh after God. There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:9-12.)

Jesus Saves. You‘ve seen signs with this testimony. Believe it! It‘s true! “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thine heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God that raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:8,9). Christ died for you; He lives for you! Will you not trust Him?

What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? its reply is: it means knowing oneself to be a sinner, and Christ to have died for sinners, abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and casting oneself wholly upon Him for pardon and peace; and exchanging one’s natural enmity and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of one’s heart by the Holy Ghost. And to the further question still: how am I to go about believing on Christ and repenting, if I have no natural ability to do these things? it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on His mercy; ask Him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith; ask Him to take away your evil heart of unbelief and to write His law within you, that you may never henceforth stray from Him. Turn to Him and trust Him as best you can, and pray for grace to turn and trust more thoroughly; use the means of grace expectantly, looking to Christ to draw near to you as you seek to draw near to Him; watch, pray, read and hear God’s Word, worship and commune with God’s people, and so continue till you know in yourself beyond doubt that you are indeed a changed being, a penitent believer, and the new heart which you desired has been put within you. . .

“Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness He requireth

Is to feel your need of Him” -

so do not postpone action till you think you are better, but honestly confess and give yourself up here and now to the Christ who alone can make you better; and wait on Him till His Light rises in your soul, as the Scripture promises that it shall do. Anything less than this direct dealing with Christ is disobedience to the gospel.

J. I. Packer


Saturday, September 5, 2009

On Faith

I was listening to a renowned pastor, a TV and radio preacher, as he was speaking on Faith. He apparently hails from a northern state where ice fishing is enjoyed. When ice fishing, he said, the thickness of the ice beneath one's feet is all important. If the ice is 1/2 inch thick, (He for one will not be on it) much faith required! On the other hand if the ice measures 2 ft thick, little faith is required. God, he concludes, is great, He is as the thick ice. The logic seems to be that not as much faith is needed to trust or depend on Him because He is great. (He did, however, stress the point that Christ alone must be the object of our faith.) But otherwise just how Biblically sound is his line of thinking? "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. . ." Isa. 1 :18.

A small god? A small faith.

If one were to say, "I am a small god; with a little "g". I am not omnipotent; I cannot do all things, but I can do many extraordinary things. I am not omnipresent, I cannot be everywhere, but I can be in a few places at one time. I am not omniscient; I don't know everything, but I do possess wisdom and knowledge of a great many things. Though I am truly a god, admittedly I do have certain limitations." If one were a small god with "certain limitations,"then we should expect a correspondingly limited faith. A small god - an equivalently small faith.

A Small Faith or a Great Faith: Which?

What of the woman with the issue of blood? Having tried everything and everyone for the space of twelve years, she found herself at the feet of Jesus: "If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus. . .said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made the whole" Matt.9:21. Her faith: was it a small faith, for 'insignificantly small' was the miracle; therefore little faith was required? Or was it great faith, for it found lodging in the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ? A small faith indeed!!! She was ''Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith!"

A Great God? A Great Faith.

A great God is worthy of and is due a faith that is equivalent to and parallels His greatness.

In Matthew 14:25, Jesus went unto his disciples, walking on the water. The account is familiar: the fear of the disciples of the storm ; the new fear because of a man walking on the sea, "It is a spirit!'" Peter coming down out of the ship to go to Jesus: a third fear, as he saw the wind boisterous; a fourth and final fear as he began to sink, "he cried, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"Little faith, oligopistos, lacking confidence (in Christ). Doubt, distazo, to stand in two ways, implying uncertainty as to which way to take; said of believers whose faith is small. (Doubt is not said to be an entity unto itself: the two ways are faith and unbelief.) The issue was not Peter lacking confidence in himself; and of his own ability to walk on the water: instead it was the lacking of confidence in Christ to sustain him in the endeavor. It was not his strength that was in question; rather it was his lack of confidence in the power, and of the faithfulness of Christ. Jesus was never for a moment disabled or without control; it was Peter who, in a moment of personal weakness thought the creation to overpower the Creator. A little faith might be sufficient when confronting a little god, but when beholding a great God, much faith is required.

"Little is much, when God is in it!" So say the lyrics of a well known hymn. Faith is compared as a grain of mustard seed. Faith is not necessarily great as a result of much accumulation; it is not something to be gathered into a great heap; not a massive amount, this faith. Faith should be great, not so much in size or volume, but In strength.

As in the case of "doubting" Thomas, the word distazo was not used. Rather, it was Believe, pisteuo. His believing was conditional: " / will not believe. . .except I shall see. "Thomas refuses to waver, to "stand in two ways:" He chose the way of unbelief until such time he had visible proof! Jesus saith unto him, Thomas because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" John 21:29.

Lord, Increase My Faith!

A thick cotton cord may appear strong, but a stainless steel cable, though much smaller in appearance is far superior in strength. Shall my prayer be, Lord, increase my faith; increase its density, its mass - or increase its strength? But then, it is not the terminology that is of utmost importance, but the sincere yearnings of the heart! A God-given faith is not flawed or imperfect! The difficulty is in the sin-prone, imperfect and untrusting creature called man. Quoting a friend in the ministry, "Our tendency is to put our faith in OUR faith, rather than putting our faith in THE faith." "I. . .exhort you that you should earnestly contend for THE faith which was once delivered unto the saints" Jude 3b. "I will run the way of thy commandment, when thou shalt enlarge my heart" Psalm 119:32. Faith (orthe lack of it) is not essentially the problem; it is Eye ( I ). Lord enlarge my heart; give me a greater capacity for Christ; grant unto me a greater vision that I may see Him through the eye of faith; that my confidence in Him may be strengthened. Oh that we might be "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord ..." I Cor. 15:58.

A Faith to be Accounted for Righteousness.

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness" Rom. 4:3. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son" Heb. 11 :17.

What! What if - Abraham was justified by faith and declared righteous through a faith that was "weak, flawed, and imperfect?" Would he be so foolish as to trust the promises of God so far as to slay and offer up his only begotten son, seeing the faith was untrustworthy? But true faith has as its foundation the Word of God. It is not to be found in the wisdom of this world, nor in the arm of the flesh. The bottom line is that faith, genuine faith, has its roots in the eternal. It is of God, it is from God; it is "not of works lest any man should boast."

We often quote, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" Eph.2:8. What if the faith given us of God was weak, frail, faulty, flawed, and imperfect? Then the grace and the salvation through which it comes would not be trustworthy!

"Now faith is the substance [it is substantiating] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"Heb. 11:1. Substantiating? Evidence? Sounds like something you'd hear in a court of law. (The courts of our land would find faith as unacceptable - but not so, the Courts of Heaven!) Abraham's righteousness was [still is] imputed to him; it is validated by the Heavenly Judicial System!

"Faith is the substance. . .sub stans: standing under. Faith provides a firm standing-ground while I await the fulfilling of God's promises. Faith furnishes my heart with a sure support" An Exposition of Hebrews, page 650, A. W. Pink

Faith as an Anchor.

If faith is to be anchored in Christ, then are we to be looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the Alpha and Omega, The Living Word of God [Christ.] Without it, faith has no sight, no hearing, no understanding, no wisdom, no discernment; it has no engine, there is no fuel to run it, no steering mechanism, neither a sense of direction. . .

Faith is issued forth from the Lord; the New-born is quickened through it and he is drawn unto Christ, his affections being fixed (anchored) in Him. Unlike a ship, Christ has no need of an anchor for Himself. He is an anchor of the soul. He is anchored in me. I am anchored in Him. The cable that holds the anchor on my end is secured to the ship at the other end. It is not just the anchor that holds me; the anchor is a part of, and an extension of, the ship itself. The anchor is an instrument to secure me to the ship. Christ is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. I am on earth. Yet I am secure in Him; I am anchored in Him. There is, as it were, an unseen cable that reaches from the Ship, and its anchor is securely lodged in me. (We speak figuratively.) in John 14:23 we read, "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." (We might compare this to Noah and the ark. Where was the anchor for the ark? Not over the side of that vessel; it (He) was within the ark!)

We read often of Paul's prayer concerning his "thorn in the flesh." "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness" II Cor. 1 2:9. "For when I am weak, then am I strong.'" vs. 10. It would appear that a strong faith is not very compatible with one who has a know-it-all attitude and is seemingly unaware of his weakness. (Which could account for the variety of Simon Peter's situations; walking on water and sinking; denying the Lord three times when he stubbornly declared he wouldn't. . .)

The Manifestation of Faith.

If faith is to be made manifest, it should be through the manifestation of Jesus Christ; revealed in His Word; revealed through Him and by means of the operation of the Spirit in the Believer.

The manifesting of Christ Himself in the heart of the believer. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" John 14:21.

The manifesting of the Gospel of Christ and redemption through his blood for the believer. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things. . .But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" I Peter 1 :18-20.

The manifesting of the work of faith wrought through the believer. "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God" John 3:21.

"By faith Abel offered” "By faith Enoch was translated" "By faith, Noah prepared an ark" "By faith Abraham obeyed" "by faith Moses. . .esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt."

"And what shall I more say?" May writer and reader wonder afresh at the remainder of Hebrews chapter eleven: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" Heb. 11:13.

Finally, a study on Faith is fine, but its value is only recognized as it is exercised. Of what benefit, faith, if it lie between the covers of my Bible on a bookshelf? Faith is absolutely essential in the life of the believer. Paul, when on a ship that seemed destined for destruction, addressed the others: "there stood by me this night the angel of the Lord, whose I am and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar; and. lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for / believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me" Acts 27:23-25.

The question might be asked, What am I believing God for - right now?

Oh Lord, I thank you for your gift of life - Christ's life; and for His righteousness imputed unto me. Thank you for the faith that you have wrought in me according to your lovingkindness. May it not be left dormant; may it be found cleaving unto Christ; Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of my faith. In His name, for His sake. Amen.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Best

I must say from the start that this material may well be confusing to you the reader without preparation. If you have not yet read the article on "Faith," please lay this one aside until you have done so. This writing is an extension; the Faith article is foundational; it is a necessary underpinning for the building upon of "My Best." My sincere apologies for my lack of insight to those who may have read the earlier work. An ( * ) designates a quote from the "Faith" article.

There is an old expression, "Just give it your best." Similar are the words of persuasion used in trying to get someone "involved" in some ministry of the church: "The Lord needs your help! You can do it. Just do your best! That's all we expect and that's all God expects!" (This person may be found giving unknowledgeable advice about other things also.) Many times the person that has been "volunteered" becomes disillusioned and ends up in the valley of discouragement. What is sad is that the person is unknowingly unaware of what has happened to him or her. (MY best may well be the self-efforts of the flesh.") Are there any who are unaware of the abilities of the "old man" to cunningly adapt himself to the piousness of religion?

Those who are called of God are equipped of God. It is He who enables the believer to "do his best." The problem may be that our focus is on "doing OUR best" when we should fall before the Lord confessing our finite inabilities and our utter weaknesses in accomplishing anything "for the Lord." * The difficulty is in the sin-prone, imperfect and untrusting creature called man. Quoting a friend in the ministry, 'Our tendency is to put our faith in OUR faith, rather than putting our faith in THE Faith.'" Likewise our tendency is to put OUR faith in OUR best in an attempt to do THE best. In John 15, the "Vine and the branch," we are admonished at least 10 times of our Lord to "Abide in Me." And we are fruit bearers, NOT fruit producers! Nevertheless, we are oft found striving to do OUR best in an attempt to do "THE best!" If we would do THE best, we of necessity must put our faith in THE faith, rather than our faith in OUR faith in an attempt to do OUR best!

We must have faith if we would do our (THE) best, and the object of faith must consistently and continuously be the Lord Jesus. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son - His Best! And it is His Best in us, working through us, and not we ourselves that is essential. Even a fleeting thought of operating independently of the understanding, wisdom and strength of Almighty God may prove disastrous. Fleshly attempts cannot produce heavenly results. Let us cast ourselves upon Christ as our only help, trusting not in the arm of the flesh. It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory!" If our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, then also must be "our best" apart from the abundant mercies and grace extended to us by our Lord.

"Dear Lord, according to your grace, give me singleness of eye; cause my focus to be fixed upon Christ alone. Knowing that without faith it is impossible to please God, may I be found trusting You, being obediently submissive to your Divine Purpose. In regard to "my best," I pray that You might engrave upon my heart; yea, plant within my heart the same mindset that You planted within the apostle Paul: "Not I, but Christ!"

(It is interesting to notice that earlier in his ministry Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church, referred to himself as "the least of the apostles." Later, to the Ephesians, he was "less than the least of all saints." When approaching the latter days of his ministry he wrote to Timothy, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.")

Well written are the words from the pen of Charles H. Spurgeon in a little book called "Faith." And we quote:

"No, Lord, if I am not condemned, it is Your free grace, for I have deserved to be condemned a thousand times since I sat down to write this. When I am on my knees and I am not condemned, I am sure it must be sovereign grace, for even when I am praying, I deserve to be condemned. Even when we are repenting, we are sinning, and adding to our sins while we are repenting of them. Every act we do as the result of the flesh is to sin again, and our best performances are so stained with sin that it is hard to know whether they are good works or bad works. So far as they are our own, they are bad; and so far as they are the works of the Spirit, they are good. But then, the goodness is not ours, it is the Spirit's, and only the evil remains to us. Ah, then, we cannot boast! Be gone, pride! Be gone!"

In all of the scripture, I can find but one place that deals with "man" and his "best:" "verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity" Psalm 39:5.

See below some of the difficulties that may arise out of attempting to do “MY Best!”

"MY best" is to include and put a dependence upon the flesh.

"MY best" is a product of self esteem; it allows for fleshly pride.

"MY best" follows the way of Cain, as I think it well to present the efforts of my hands to God.

"MY best" is apt to give me a false sense of accomplishment.

"MY best" is only wood, hay and stubble; unworthy of reward; fit only to be burned up.

"MY best" regards my talents and fleshly abilities.

"MY best" supposes human strength can accomplish eternal tasks.

"MY best" causes me to scheme rather than trust.

"MY best" regards my desires, seeks the fulfillment of my will.

"MY best" looks to human reasoning, rather than seeking infinite wisdom.

"MY best" may cause me to overlook sin in my life; to be unwilling to acknowledge such.

"MY best" will cause me to "think of myself more highly than I ought to think."

"MY best" may cause me to look upon others in a judgmental way, comparing "my best" to their "best."

"MY best" may stir up a spirit of envy as I observe the talents or position of another."

"MY best" may cause my testimony to be weak and ineffectual.

"MY best" may cause me to use poor judgment in dealing with family members, other Believers, and also with unbelievers.

"MY best" will rob me of a deep settled peace; it will bring about unrest; it will steal away my joy."

"MY best" may be a hindrance to both my Bible study and my prayer life.

“MY best” will keep me from a much needed communion with God.

“MY best” will cause me to allow glory to myself rather than rendering it to Whom it is due.“

“MY best" may cause me to desire to live in the "limelight" rather than to live in the "Lamblight."

"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself. . .I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" John 5:19a,30b. He could do nothing of Himself because He would do nothing of Himself. (Of course, there was perfect unity: Jesus placed himself as a servant in total submission to the Father; there was never to be found even a hint of contention or rivalry in the Triune Godhead!) Our Lord, being sinless and perfect, even in a body of flesh, placed full dependence in the Father and in the power of the Spirit. He has set the example; shall we not follow Him? How can we do that!?! Well, certainly not by trying OUR best (the self-efforts of the flesh) to do our best! Let us be reminded of those words penned by our brother Paul: "That I may know him. . .I follow after. . .reaching forth. . .I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" Phil. 3. Would any dare ask Paul what or Who was the object of his faith? And who among us will dare to say to that patriarch, "I did my best; I gave my best unto the Lord?"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Jesus Heals a Man of the Dropsy

Dropsy. An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema. The Middle English dropsy came through the Old French hydropsie from the Greek hydrops which in turn came from the Greek hydor meaning water.

A strange meeting place.

And it came to pass, as he [Jesus] went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy” Luke 14:1-2.

Why would the Pharisees, (one of the chief Pharisees) invite Jesus to his house to break bread on the sabbath? Jesus, the friend of sinners? Jesus, whom they hated? “And it came to pass. . .that they watched him.” Would they come seeking Jesus; to know Him? No, they would come that they might find fault; that they might have ought in which to accuse Him. This man claims to be the Son of God - away with Him!

Why was the poor man with dropsy there? He was certainly no friend of the Pharisees. He surely was not there at their invitation! (unless he was brought there as a snare in an attempt to entrap the Lord.) This diseased creature should be cast out! He has no place here! Jesus went into the house and found a man before Him. Why had the man come; to be abused, scorned, by the Pharisees - or did he come to see Jesus?

And why was Jesus there? Because he had much in common with His ’Pharisee brethren’? Because He wanted to fellowship with them? Or was it because He knew that the man with the dropsy was there, waiting on His arrival? Again we ask, by whose invitation was the man there? “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” John 6:37.

The speechless Pharisees.

And Jesus answering [answering what?] spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?” Whatever question they would have asked was answered with yet another question! (But we know! The Lord knew their thoughts!) A houseful of Pharisees and lawyers must have had the answer to that question: after all it pertained to the Law: they knew the law - didn’t they?

“And they held their peace” [hesuchazo, to keep still; to refrain from meddlesomeness or speech.]. Verse six ends, “And they could not answer him again to these things.”

Another thought: this eating of bread on the Sabbath was confined to the house of a chief Pharisee and his brethren. On almost all other occasions there was a crowd of ‘sinners’ in the midst. The Pharisees, actors, players as they were, would take this opportunity to perform. They would show (or think so in their folly) to show themselves superior, and Jesus inferior. In their despise and jealousy of Him would they think to catch Him as a fish in a net: it was a battle of the minds! They apparently did not have sense enough to know when to quit!

And he [Christ] took him, [the man with the dropsy] and healed him, and let him go;” vs.4. “And answered them.” But they have yet to say anything! Strangely enough, the man whom Jesus would heal didn’t speak either. At least there is no recorded conversation between them. Normally a person would cry out unto the Lord: or He would ask him of the desire of his heart: “Lord, that I might receive my sight; Lord, that I might be healed!” Never mind. Christ has read the minds of all those Pharisees; He knew their thoughts; why not also the thoughts (and heart) of the man with the dropsy?

“And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” Now who’s caught in the net? If they would say, ‘We would, of course, pull him out!’ Then why have you violated the command of the law? If they would say, No, we would leave the animal in the pit, perchance to die, as he may be wounded or become prey to a predator. Either answer would be unacceptable in their depraved mentality.

So - what have we here? a pit, a pit into which a creature has fallen and cannot free himself. We have One who will take him, pull him up, out. One who will heal him; One who will wash him with water; who will pour in wine for disinfecting; who will pour in oil for his healing; One who will let him go. . .But will the One who has shown such care not keep His eye upon him; continue to care for him?

“I waited patiently for the Lord: and he inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” Psalm 40:1-2.

This pitiable fellow with the dropsy was doubtlessly weak and without strength in his legs and feet. He was as one who had fallen into miry clay, quick sand. Did he wait patiently for the Lord? Did the Lord incline unto him; hearing his cry? (if not audibly, surely from his heart.) “And he took him,” brought him up and out of the miry clay of the pit. “And healed him;” “set his feet upon a rock. He is separated, delivered from the pit, from his dropsy. He is healed physically, he is healed spiritually. (Does the Lord work any other way?) His feet are now upon the Rock! He stands in the strength of the Lord!

“And let him go.” Is he healed? Has he received strength? Then ‘let him go.’ He’s made whole; now just turn him loose; he’s on his own?

There was another fellow who lay dead in a pit (the grave). Jesus called, “Lazarus come forth!” “And He brought him up out of the pit; set his feet on the Rock. Jesus saith unto them, loose him and let him go” John 11:44. Let him go? Isn’t that the same thing our Lord said about the man with the dropsy: ‘let him go?’ Let him go; release him from the grave clothes? Or could it mean more: let him go that Christ might ‘establish his goings?’

“And established my goings” Psalm 40:2b. Is Christ the Way, the Truth, the Life? Then let Him establish my goings! Let me go follow Him!

Of course we must take this personally. We were as the man with the dropsy; which is a far worse ‘congestive heart failure’ than he had; we were “without strength.” Rom. 5:6.

He [Christ] inclined unto me; heard my cry: lifted me up out of the horrible pit called Sin: up and out of the miry clay of which I could never free myself; set my feet on the Solid Rock, established my goings. And His watch care: “for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee!” Heb. 13:5.

Looking Again at the Alabaster Box

John 12:1-11


The Alabaster Box containing a pound of ointment of spikenard. It was Mary’s treasure chest, a Hope Chest, if you will. The Day was coming for it to be opened. This was not a whim, not a sudden impulse. Surely the emotion of the moment had been building within her: “Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this [alabaster box of ointment]”.

Mary’s heart anticipated what lay deepest in His, even before it found expression in words. She not only knew that He would die, but she apprehended the infinite preciousness and value of that death. And how more fitting could she have expressed this than by anointing His body “to the burying” (Mark 14:8)! Exposition of the Gospel of John, page 229, A. W. Pink

The Father ordered it that His beloved Son should be “anointed” here in this home at Bethany in the presence of Lazarus whom Christ has raised from the dead: it attested the power of His Own resurrection! Exposition of John, page 232, A. W. Pink.

Alabaster. A finely grained variety of gypsum, often white and translucent used for ornamental objects, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc. Alabastron. an oil jar char-acteristically having an elongated shape, narrow neck, flat-rimmed mouth, and rounded base, requiring a stand or support, chiefly used for fragrant ointments; a vase. Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary.

Spikenard, a costly oil derived from the dried roots and stems of the nard, an herb of Asia. Spikenard was imported from India in alabaster boxes. These were stored and used only for special occasions. When household guests arrived, they were usually anointed with this oil. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, page 855.

If one would depend upon the definitions given by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, they are presented thusly: spikenard, [it is called nard also] pistikos: trustworthy, genuine. The word from which pistkos is taken is pistis: pursuasion, i.e. credence; mor. conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), esp. reliance upon Christ for salvation; by ext. the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: - assurance, belief, faith, fidelity. But by all means, search it out for yourself.

Anointed for Burial.

Jesus suffered alone upon the cross. But might He have remembered the compassion of Mary; the costly ointment that she had allowed to flow freely down His brow and poured out upon His feet? Did she not weep as she anointed His feet? Did not the teardrops that fell from her eyes fall also upon His brow as she anointed His head? Teardrops mingled with the ointment: exceedingly precious was the ointment; exceedingly precious were the tears. Mary anointed the Lord for burial. Mary ‘broke’ the alabaster box. Was it not symbolic of her broken heart; a heart that was poured out before her Saviour?

Lazarus was dead.

“And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. . . [When Jesus arrived, he spoke to Martha, who in turn called Mary] “The Master is come and calleth for thee!” “The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. . .When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. . .Jesus wept” John 11:19,31,33,35. (Jesus related to Martha that I AM the Resurrection. It appears that she had not heard that before. When Mary came he did not tell her the same: why repeat that which she already knew?)

Jesus wept; He suffered with Mary; He was touched with the feeling of her infirmities. Now could she weep; now could she suffer with Him; she could be touched with the feeling of His infirmities. Mary felt what Paul wrote later: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering” Philippians 3:10.

There was “no beauty that we should desire him” Isa. 52:14, but Mary “worshiped the Lord in the beauty of holiness” Psalm 96:9. “We hid as it were our faces from him” Isa.53:3, but Mary “beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father” John 1:14, “We esteemed him not” Isa. 53:3, but ‘Unto Mary therefore which believed he was precious’ I Peter 2:7.

Since Orientals are so very demonstrative and emotional, it is difficult for those not acquainted with their customs to appreciate their method of expressing their sorrow, and their attempt to be comforted. In times of grief and sorrow, sackcloth is worn, and they often rend their garments in order to let people know how deep is their grief (II Sam. 3:31). Tears flow freely at such times and are considered to be a definite means of bringing comfort to sorrowing hearts (John 11:33).

Manners and Customs of Bible Lands, page 143, Fred H. Wight

The question of tears.

As Mary was anointing the body of Jesus for burial, it would have been unthinkable for her not to have wept. It would have broken custom and tradition; her love, devotion and worship for Him demanded it. The cross would afford no comfort; what prevented her from comforting Him before His death by the manifestation of tears?

Let us compare the ‘other’ account found in Luke chapter seven: “And one of the Pharisees desired him [Jesus] that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman of the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment” vs.36-38. In answer to the Pharisee’s objection Jesus replied, “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. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. . .” vs. 44-47.

Two women; two alabaster boxes of ointment; both anointed the feet of Jesus with ointment; both wiped His feet with the hairs of their head. One woman wept and the tears fell upon His feet, which she wiped with her hair. Tell me now, that Mary did not weep as she anointed the feet of the Lord that she worshiped; and wiped them with her hair for His forth-coming burial.

(The scripture says that Mary “broke” the alabaster box [Alabastron, an oil jar characteristically having an elongated shape, narrow neck, flat-rimmed mouth, and rounded base] Only Mark speaks of the Alabaster box being broken. “and she brake the box and poured it upon his head.” Did she smash it into pieces? Then the contents would have been splattered everywhere. Not to mention the impending danger from the sharp fragments being scattered in the process. In such case she could in no wise have poured it upon his head. Most likely, and from the scriptures we read: “against the day of my burying hath she kept this [alabaster box of ointment.” It was and continues to be so, that wines and other oils or perfumes have a seal; and this seal must be broken in order to open and pour forth the contents. Mary must have kept the seal undisturbed: the spikenard was for the Lord only. ‘Breaking’ the seal she could ‘pour’ the spikenard upon His head.)

Again we draw from an earlier quotation: “Spikenard was imported from India in alabaster boxes. These were stored and used only for special occasions. When household guests arrived, they were usually anointed with this oil.” We are familiar with “the anointing of oil.” In days gone by it was common for a pastor or someone else to go to the home of one who had an infirmity, put ‘anointing oil’ on their finger tips and place them upon the head of the sick before prayer. This, Mary did not do! She apparently poured the whole bottle upon the Lord Jesus! A small amount of the ointment upon the feet of the guest would have been noticeable, but discreet: but the whole house was filled with the aroma! Judas and the others did not strenuously object to the common practice of anointing. It was pouring a whole pound of spikenard upon the Lord! Now that was wasteful! Consider the other account of the woman who anointed Jesus at the house of the Pharisee: he did not object to the familiar practice of anointing a guest: his problem was that Jesus would allow a “sinner” to do so unto Him! A traveler, a guest, would not find it strange that his host should wash his feet, then dry them with a towel [Jesus did this to His disciples: I doubt that they had an alabaster box of spikenard in their possession!] and if he were a person of means and had the expensive spikenard; he would anoint the feet of his guest. [Odor Eaters and medicated foot powder were not available in that day!] Seeing to the comfort and refreshment of the guest was simply good etiquette!

[“Mary Magdalene has long been in popular tradition to “Mary the sinner,” and has been identified with the penitent who anointed Jesus. There were probably two anointings recorded in the gospels. . . There is no reliable evidence to connect Mary Magdalene with either anointing. When her name appears in Luke 8:2 there is not one word to connect it with the history that immediately precedes.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, page 703.]

“Mary Magdalene out of whom he [Jesus] had cast seven devils” Mark 16:9. Does the account of the woman who anointed Jesus with the spikenard and the commendation of the Lord in her behalf even remotely resemble a woman possessed of seven devils?

But at this point I am a bit puzzled. In our text of John chapter twelve, we are given the account of Mary and the anointing of Jesus. A resurrected Lazarus was sitting at the table and observed all this with the others. Why then does John relay the account in chapter eleven of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, being sick, the following verse telling us, “(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)” Is the cart before the horse? How are we to identify with this when the second anointing never took place until after Lazarus’ resurrection? How are we to relate to something that has not yet happened - unless Mary was the same woman who is revealed in Luke’s gospel; she who came to the Pharisee’s house, fell at Jesus’ feet, anointing them with spikenard and tears? In Luke 10:39, Mary is seen sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing His word; of which Jesus said, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” vs.42. Notice also at the grave site of Lazarus: “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet” John 11:32). “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” It would appear at least plausible that both anointings were done by the same woman, Mary of Bethany. The first anointing at the Pharisee’s house: surely this woman would have continued to follow Jesus; that we would have heard much more about her. And of Mary: how did she meet Jesus? Under what circumstances was she converted; when did she trust Christ for salvation? If she were the “sinner” in Luke chapter seven, the first account of the anointing of Jesus, then might she have returned home to Martha and Lazarus with a glowing testimony, leading to their conversion. Jesus was a frequent guest in their home. He loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and they loved Him; and Mary sat at His feet, listening to His teaching. From this she would come to know of His death, of His burial, of His resurrection. From this would the Holy Spirit have put into her heart to anoint Him for burial.

Valuable? Or Profitable?

The alabaster box of precious ointment of spikenard: it was valuable as it sat upon the stand or support; but it became profitable; its true value, its ultimate potential was realized, when it was poured out upon the brow and feet of the Lord Jesus.

What was more precious to the Lord Jesus; the ‘broken’ alabaster box of spikenard poured upon His head and feet - or she who bowed herself, broken, at His feet and anointed them with her tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head?

The blood of Christ was valuable to Himself, for the continuing life flow to His body; but it became exceedingly more precious and profitable when His body was broken and His blood, as a precious healing ointment, was poured out for wretched sinners. “What can wash away my sins; What can make me whole again; O precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow; No other fount I know; Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

“Paul wrote to Philemon concerning his servant who had previously fled to Rome; now saved, ands in the company of the Apostle: “Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me” Philemon vs.11. [The desire of the Lord is not for slaves, nor hired servants; but Sons with servant’s hearts.]

Few scriptures are more frequently quoted than Romans twelve one. Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God? I know what I am to do, but how to do it I cannot discern. May it not be accomplished by presenting ourselves, as it were, an alabaster box of ointment; broken, poured out unto the Lord, a living sacrifice? And let us do it “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” Ephesians 1:6.

Dishonorable mention.

How sad, how tragic, the ‘disciple’ Judas and those at the supper! They argued over what they thought to have been wasted. Indeed! Why waste costly ointment on Jesus when it could have been sold and “wisely” spent. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these “things” shall be added unto you.” They were counting the creation of greater value than its Creator? Surely not. Quibbling over the finite when the Infinite stood before them? “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” I Timothy 6:10. Shall we spend more time mooring over the quibbling of Judas and the others?

“Then Jesus said, Let her alone” John 12:7. How blessed! Christ is ever ready to defend His own! It was the Good Shepherd protecting His sheep from the wolf. Judas condemned Mary. . .But Christ knew her motive and commended her deed.

He whose Name is “as ointment poured forth” commended her, who all unconsciously fulfilled prophesy, “While the king sitteth at his table my spikenard sendeth forth the sweet smell thereof” Song of Solomon,1:3,12. So in a coming day He will reward even a cup of water which has been given in His name. Exposition of. John, page 241, A. W. Pink.

Thoughts for meditation.

Appreciation is not to be expressed to a musical instrument; rather to the musician who plays it. Focus not upon the alabaster box of spikenard but the One upon whom it was poured, and the hands that ‘broke’ the vessel and did the pouring.

In Matthew and Mark she is shown anointing His head with the Spikenard from the alabaster box; but in the gospel of John, it is His feet. Mary anointed the head of Christ as He is the Head of all creation, the Sovereign God, and is worthy of all honour: but she would do no less than have Him be Lord of her life; therefore she bowed before Him in worship and anointed His feet!

She wiped His feet with her hair; the glory of a woman. In total submission, Mary lay at His feet in willing worship. The odor of the Spikenard filled the house. As she arose, the smell of the ointment was in her hair. Everywhere she went, it was a testimony that she had been with Jesus! His glory was all about her!

I think it’s worth repeating! If one would truly worship the Lord, he should humble himself before His feet; he must long to know Him: let him break the seal of his alabaster box and pour forth the ointment unto the Lord; let him diligently, reverently, prayerfully, search the scriptures, for therein is to be found the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they [Mary Magdalene, and Joanna and Mary the mother of James] came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared” Luke 24:1. But Mary whose brother the Lord had raised, was not with them. She had done what she could: she had come aforehand to anoint the body of the Lord to the burying. (Mark 14:8). She believed her Lord was risen, as He said!

Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James; they had risen early, before dawn. Having gathered the spices that they had prepared, they went forth to the sepulchre that they might anoint the body of Jesus. Although He had told them of His forthcoming death and resurrection, they had chosen to ignore it. Such a thing could not be. They carried along with the spices the mentality of Thomas: “I will not believe!” Traditions and rituals they were willing to observe. Humanly speaking, what they intended to do was commendable. They would have someone roll back the stone that they might gain entrance into the place where lay the lifeless body of their departed friend, the Lord Jesus. There in the tomb would they continue to mourn His death. It is pitiable that these would come carrying the spices for the anointing of the dead. The ointments were a testimony as to their unbelief. The thought saddened me. Why could they not have had faith in the Word of the Lord? What of Mary Magdalene who cried, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

But do not all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose - sometimes even in the midst of our unbelief?!! These dear ones came being convinced of the worst: their friend Jesus was dead. They must anoint His body before the fourth day of His entombment. As Martha said concerning her brother Lazarus, who had been in the grave for four days, “By now he stinketh.” But no! I dare say that the tomb did not emit an unpleasant odor: perhaps rather the sweet fragrance of the lilies of the valley; of the Rose of Sharon! These ladies would come to anoint the deceased body of our Lord: but He would purpose that they come early that morning to the sepulchre that they might see the empty tomb; that Christ was indeed risen from the dead as He said! Their unbelief was turned to faith; their sadness to unspeakable Joy!

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” I Peter 1:7b,8.

Hallelujah! Selah!