Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Beautiful Fragrance of Love for Christ


1) Heidelberg Catechism

The Eighth Commandment

You shall not steal.

110 Q. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

A. He forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law.

But in God's sight theft also includes cheating and swindling our

neighbor by schemes made to appear legitimate, such as: inaccurate
measurements of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising;
counterfeit money; excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God.

In addition he forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.

2) Scripture

John 12:1-8: Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”


What a beautiful scene this was in Bethany. How the gathered disciples loved Jesus! Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had special reasons for loving Jesus, for Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead not too long before. And, of course, the twelve had great love for Jesus, for they were his closest confidantes. So when we read that “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume,” this fragrance becomes a symbol of the loveliness of Christians united together in their common love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

But one person found this lovely fragrance to be a stench. This man was a thief. This man was an idolater. He loved something else more than he loved Christ Jesus. To cover his love of money and self, and his lack of love for Christ, he put on the robe of good intentions: “Why was this ointment not sold . . . and given to the poor?”

This man considered the anointing of Jesus to be “a pointless squandering of his [God’s] gifts,” but this was only because his idolatry blinded him to the unsurpassable beauty of the Lord Jesus. When we worship idols, like money, we become as spiritually insensitive as the idols we serve. Judas could not see the surpassing glory of Jesus, and so he could not make a right spiritual judgment.

Let’s learn the lesson that greed is idolatry --- that there is a close connection between the robbery and idolatry. Let’s learn that the greatest robbery of all is not to give our triune God the glory he is due, for when we love anything more than we love the Lord we are robbing him of the honor he is due. O that our families, churches, and personal lives might be filled with the pleasing fragrance of love for Jesus Christ.

Discussion: Put yourself in Martha, Mary, and Lazarus’ sandals. Why was their love for Jesus so great? Look up 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. How is this passage similar to John 12:1-8?

Prayer Starter: Pray to the Father for the Spirit’s work in your heart that you might love the Lord Jesus Christ above all else, and might use his gifts for his glory and other’s good.

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