Christian Position, Service, Worship

John 11‑12  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
John 11
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 particularly 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. "There 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... manifest in flesh." Who was 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."
"Martha served," and Mary took "a pound of ointment of spikenard, 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 bath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." Col. 1:12, 1312Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (Colossians 1:12‑13). "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6). "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." 2 Cor. 5:17, 1817Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (2 Corinthians 5:17‑18).
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 overcoming, 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 lust 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." John 7:3838He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38). 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 a one as Paul. But it is important to note that Martha's service is connected with the Lord. It must ever 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 one 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 appropriateness 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 this approaching death Mary esteems nothing too costly to spend, and pours out the precious ointment which she had kept 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 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 sight 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 is 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? 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 words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." John 14:2323Jesus answered and said unto him, 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. (John 14:23).
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!