Worship matters? Philipians 3:4-14, John 12:1-8?
Jesus reorders lives: guaranteed. For Christians its unavoidable. When God moves into first place—when you move from death towards life—everything changes in importance. What you consider great today will someday be discarded as worship and serving God matters. Today’s great accomplishments treated like a pile of trash or worse compared to being with God.
Few people speak so openly about their life’s reordering as Paul. As a man of God convinced that religious conduct made him right with God the good news changed him. In Christ Paul’s understanding of salvation as a gift of God’s love given not a possession earned transformed everything. All he had to boast about as a religious man paled in comparison to the joy of knowing Christ.
circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Philipians 3:5-7 ESV
In Christ Paul saw all his pride as skubala σκύβαλα a word that means worse than rubbish (Philipians 3:8). Everything else was skubala σκύβαλα to him now. In Christ lives are reorder and possessions revalued. Knowing the great price paid for for each soul in the death of Christ sets us free. Think of all the things we chase after in this world—money, houses, cars, status, all the accomplishments worthless compared to the cross and resurrection.
You’ve no doubt got your list of the things you think make you great. And we won’t be able to hold onto anything but Christ and the good he plans to do in us and through us. Everything else is just skubala σκύβαλα. We know it is a part of our natural lives. If we don’t get rid of our it from our bodies we’ll become toxic. Even wonderful things God used to build you and mold you in his image can become toxic if held onto too after we were meant to be rid of them.
Freedom comes as your life is reordered. Freedom to love God first and put everything and everybody else in a good place, but not the first place in your life, sets you free. Our gospel story starts with Jesus eating in Bethany at the home of two sisters Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus (John 12:1-2). There’s a story behind this one. These 3: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, knew Jesus’ life reordering love (John 11:5) and deep connection (John 11:35). He was friend and rabbi. But most of all he was resurrection and life (John 11:25) who called into a grave and brought Lazarus back from dead (John 11:20-43).
What a meal—Jesus and his disciples sat with Lazarus at the table as Martha served (John 12:1-2). Mary poured a jar of nard over Jesus’ feet wiping them with her hair (John 12:3).
Wow—this is worship—pouring out so much nard the aroma filled the house. Judas made a stink. Such extravagance—the nard could be sold and the profit given to the poor. John notes Judas didn’t care about the poor—he pilfered from the purse for himself. (John 12:4-6). Jesus accepted Mary’s worship. He told Judas to let her be—she bought the nard for his burial (John 12:7). She knew something of Jesus extraordinary character. Just 6 days before Jesus last passover trial, torture, death, and resurrection she worshipped him (John 12:8).
Along the way to Jesus’ end and new beginning John points to signs. Signs through which God is at working telling us who we are, who our risen Lord is, and who we will be in Him. May Mary’s worship remind us of the cross and resurrection. AMEN.