Christian Position, Service, and Worship

Romans 12  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The memories of Bethany cannot fail to touch a chord in the heart of. everyone who loves the Lord Jesus. We naturally find pleasure in lingering over any spot that was dear to one we love-how much more when that One is the Lord Jesus Christ, the One to whom we owe everything. We love to think of anything associated with His blessed name; but what makes Bethany peculiarly interesting, is, that He seemed to find in the society of that little company a resting place in His toilsome path. How sweet to think that He, "who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself," such hatred and antagonism from man, had one little spot where He could find those, who, although they knew but little, were truly attached to Himself.
The result of such intercourse is seen in the confidence of love which that message of Martha and Mary reveals, " Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick." They knew He loved their brother as well as they, and it is not their love but His love that is uppermost in their minds. It is to this spot that Jesus turns on His last journey to Jerusalem. "And they made him a supper." There is no formal invitation, as with Simon the Pharisee-none was needed, for there was the ease, and as we have said, the confidence of known love. What a supper it was! Who was there? The Son of God-" God manifested in flesh." Who were around Him? A company of poor sinners, attracted by perfect grace, and for whom He-the Son of Man-was soon to lay down His life.
There is significance in the way the Bethany family is introduced. Jesus came to Bethany, " where Lazarus was, which had been dead whom he raised from the dead." "Martha served," and " Mary took a pound of ointment, very costly, and anointed the feet of. Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair." In this we have an illustration of Christian position, service, and worship.
Lazarus had been dead; but now, alive from the dead, he is seated in company with Jesus. So with the believer. He is 'alive from the dead, and that in the power of an endless life. We cannot be too clear as to this. Weakness and a troubled conscience is the result of imperfectly apprehending it. If we look to ourselves we find failure to the very end-if we look to God's side we find nothing but perfection. Christ is our life. The Father " hath, made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love." "And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." " If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new; and all things are of God."
Such is the character of our standing. We shall not be more meet for heaven when we get there than we are now, nor will our heaven be more secure. The title is perfect. True, if I look at myself I see nothing of all this, but I am not called upon to look at myself, but to judge myself. That is what God has done with nature, " condemned sin in the flesh," and I am to reckon myself dead to sin and alive unto God. True self-judgment, however, we must remember, proceeds from being in the presence of the Lord. The light exposes self in its true colors, and puts an end to all thought of improvement. We get the principle, in Job's case, " I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself." But the same light that exposes self manifests the unalterable grace in which we stand; and the desires of the new nature being strengthened, we get power to keep the old in check. We leave it behind in all its badness, and going on in the power of the new nature its energies are displayed. That is the principle of over-coming, as we read in Gal. 5:1616This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)-"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
A word as to Martha. It is the Lord's presence that calls forth her service. She does not lose the opportunity of ministering to Him. In this we learn a lesson. We ought not to seek to get through this world as comfortably as possible, because our consciences are set at rest. It is not in keeping with the activities of Divine love to feast on our own blessings, in the midst, of a groaning creation. Where these are in proper exercise the saint is a channel of blessing to all around. " Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." 0, how our selfish hearts are exposed when we think of the pathway of the Lord Jesus on earth, or even of the unceasing care and bowels of compassion that animated such an one as Paul. But it is important to note that Martha's service is connected with the Lord. It must Over be so, where there is true service. We are always apt to imitate others, or work for the sake of a place or a name. But this will never do. The Lord has work for each of us-for each his own work-and the test of its being rightly done is, whether it has been done as for Him. Of course, in order to know what the Lord has for me to do, and to have Him as the object in doing it, there must be the broken will and the single eye.
Mary figures prominently in this scene. The appropriate. ness of her action is apparent from verse 7-" Against the day of my burying hath she kept this." Jesus was soon to leave them. "Me ye have not always." In view of his approaching death, Mary esteems nothing too costly to spend, and pours out the precious ointment which she had kept up for this purpose, as the answer of a loving heart to the love of His. It is the spirit of worship. In the eyes of man it was waste and occasioned grumbling. But who can estimate its value in the sight of God? Man valued the Son of God's love at thirty pieces of silver. To faith He is the most glorious object that mortal eyes could behold. Set down with purged consciences in the presence of God, within the holiest, our eyes behold that worthy One, who, by His shameful cross has brought us there. What else can we do but worship, and what more delightful than the sweet odor of a heart doing homage to that glorious One in whom all fullness dwells, and in whom the. Father, finds infinite delight?
A. practical word on the thought with which we started. It is sweet to think that there was one spot on earth where Jesus could meet loving hearts. But have you ever thought that He seeks the same still 4 We sometimes sing:-
" Who find in Abba's favor
Our spirit's present home."
And this is blessedly true. But there is another side-" If a man love me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
May it be ours to have his love so filling our hearts, and every word of His so attended to, that He may find a dwelling-place in us and with us here! C.