Dr. Ed Young - Teachable Moments
What is a Christian? Most of us can give an answer to that. A Christian is someone who is convicted of their sin. They confess that sin, they turn away from that sin, and they invite Jesus Christ to come into their life and to clean up their act and give them a brand-new life. We call it being born again. You don't improve, you become brand-new. And then the question comes, okay, now that we have become a Christian, we have, Paul would say, taken off our old clothes and put on our new clothes.
We have been totally revolutionized. We're new inside, and therefore this expresses the newness outside. And then in the verbiage of Francis Schaefer, in one of his books, how should we then live? We've invited Christ in our life, he has saved us, but the process, we call it sanctification, doesn't mean we gettin' halos around our head, but it means, as we grow up. Jesus's life revealed the truth about God and from his life, we get lessons, do we not, of how we are to live.
So today, we're gonna look at three little stories, three little quick vignettes, and learn from them lessons, very practical lessons, as to how we are to then live. So, open your Bibles, if you would. Let's start off with Luke. My favorite gospel, by the way. Luke chapter number 10, we'll look at verse 38-42 Now, in these three little lessons, you're gonna first of all, we're gonna learn something at Martha's dinner party, to... Mary and Martha. We're gonna learn something at Lazarus' funeral. We're gonna learn something at Simon's dinner party. So we got two dinner parties and a funeral. We're gonna get great insight here. Look at it in Martha's dinner party.
"Now as they were traveling, Jesus, the Apostles, he entered into a village, Bethany, and a woman named Martha was welcoming him in her home. She had a sister named Mary who seated at the feet of Jesus". And by the way, every time you meet Mary, there's six Marys in the New Testament, every time you meet this Mary, the sister of Martha, she was always at the feet of Jesus. She was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to his word. "But Martha was distracted with all of her preparations, and she came to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.' The Lord answered and he said, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things. But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her.'"
You get the setting? Jesus came with the Apostles, now Martha's in the kitchen, she is just working, trying to prepare some gourmet falafels, and she is got a lot of pressure, there's Jesus and there's her sister, who lives there with her, Mary, and she's at the feet of Jesus, listening and worshiping. And she goes in there and says, "Jesus, tell my sister, Mary, to come here and help me". And there're three words there using how Martha failed. And you put them all together, she had, in the words of a Southern household, she had a hissy fit. You know that word? Great, deep, philosophical word. She was upset, she was mad, I'm doing all the work around here, I need help. Jesus, tell Mary to get in the kitchen, we gotta get these gourmet falafels prepared for these very important guests.
And Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, the best part, Mary is chosen to sit at the feet of Jesus and to worship, and to be instructed. And what she's chosen will be with us forever and forever when we worship. And we'll forget about whatever we have for dinner tonight". Now, there's not a female here who's not had the experience of Martha. Everybody was out there watching the game, fellowshipping, having a good time, and here you are locked up in the kitchen, trying to prepare for everybody, and everybody seemed to be blind and helpless in realizing you might need somebody to get the meal ready. Right, ladies?
So, Here's what we have. We have Jesus, some people think sort of putting down Martha. He was not. He was simply saying, and this is the operative word in this little story that Jesus wants us to get, it's the word priority. How we get our priorities in line. And it is the number one priority, Jesus says, is to worship. Now, he knew about working, he was a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. He knew the necessity of work. He wouldn't say, well, don't work, spend all your time worshiping. No, he would put it in the right order. Ladies and gentlemen, understand that worship needs to precede work. And when worship precedes work, wonderful things happen. Our work begins to work. What we do, whatever your calling, whatever your vocation, recreation, re-creation, what are we doing. It and of itself becomes worship.
When we begin with worship, worship flows all the way through everything we do. Lot of people are fretting around, I'm worried about this, I don't know what to do about this, I'm upset, and here's this or that or the other. And you start with worship. And in that quiet time, in that personal time, a little bit in that book, and listening, and talking, and praying. Out of that experience, everything begins to work. We have not our best judgment, we have the mind of God Almighty being brought to bear on your challenges, and on my challenges. Do you see? Jesus wants us to see the priority, the first place of worship.
Now, the next story is even, I think, more powerful than that. And we learn something else. Take your Bibles, if you would, and turn over to the Gospel of John. John, chapter number 11. Now this is the funeral of Lazareth, the death of Lazareth. Look what we learned there. We've learned the priority of worship, right? And the first little story Jesus involved. Now we learn the perspective of death, we get a whole new view of death. Look at it. "So the sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to him, Jesus, saying, Lord, behold, the one whom you love," that's Lazarus, their brother, "is sick". "When Jesus heard this, He said, 'This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God so that the son of man may be glorified by it.'" Sickness and death is for, listen, the glory of God.
You say, well, how does this work? Watch it. "That Jesus loved Martha and her sister, Mary, and Lazarus," verse 5, "so that when he heard that he was sick, he then stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.'" So now he left, he was way up north, the other side of the Jordan, and he crossed the Jordan, and he started to the south, and look what happened. "The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you. You are going there again?'" They debated whether he should go, and he went. Look at verse 14. "So Jesus then said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead, and I am glad.'"
Can you get ahold of that one? Lazarus is dead, and Jesus says, "I am glad"? You see, Jesus had a perspective of death that you and I need to have. Look to the rest of the sentence. "For your sakes that I am not there, so that you may believe, but let us go to him. Therefore, Thomas," Doubting Thomas, "who was called Didymus," said to his fellow disciples, "'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'" Now there's Thomas, his name is Didymus, which means twin. Thomas had a twin. Can you tell me when we meet his twin in the Bible? We don't meet him. You're his twin. I'm his twin. Oh, Doubting Thomas, oh show me the print in your hand. And here Thomas says, "Well, if we go back there, they're gonna kill you, Jesus. They gonna kill us all. Let's all dress in black clothes and go down there and die".
Know people like that? We get like that. And then verse 17, it says, "So when Jesus came, he found that he, Lazarus, had already been dead in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near to Jerusalem, about two miles off, literally a mile and a half as the crow flies. And many of the Jews had come to Mary and Martha to console them concerning their brother. So Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you'd been here, my brother would not have died.'"
We're gonna hear that another time or two. If only this, if only that. "Even now," said Martha, "I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he'll rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her," great verse, "'I am the resurrection and the life, and he who believes in me will live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Martha, do you believe this?'" She said, "'Yes, Lord, I believe that you're the Christ, the son of God, even he who comes into the world.'"
Did you notice something? Martha's profession of faith did not live up to her practice of faith. Is that true of us sometimes? What I profess to believe, oh, that's my faith, but my actuality and my living up to that faith doesn't match my profession of faith. So Martha said, "Let's go get Mary". I love this. "When she said this, he went away and called Mary her sister, saying, 'The teacher is here and is calling for you.' And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was running to him". Verse 31. "Then the Jews who were with her in the house and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they thought she was goin' to the tomb".
Verse 32. "Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was she, saw him and," guess what? "Fell at his feet, saying to him, 'Lord, if you'd been here, my brother would not have died.'" Seemed like we just heard that. "When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, 'Where have you laid him?' And they said to him, 'Lord, come and see.'" Then that little verse, "Jesus wept".
You know, I've used that a lot of times and saying that's one verse I first memorized when I was a boy. Shortest verse in all the Bible. Jesus wept. I can tell you something about that verse. Perhaps in all the Scripture there is no verse, no point in the Bible, where you see the humanity of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus, right there in those words. Did you get that? You see the humanity of Jesus, and you see the divinity of Jesus. The humanity of Jesus was he saw his good buddy had died, and saw the grief of his sisters, the grief of all their friends, and they were weeping, and all the Jews in that community, they were brokenhearted. Lazarus had died, and he begins to weep as a human being for compassion for all of those who are weeping and wailing.
And by the way, in the words of Jesus, we've been hearing strong words, it wasn't just a few tears, he was weeping, weeping profusely. Weeping. We see his humanity. Also there we see his divinity. Well, how do you see his divinity? You see, Jesus knew that Lazarus had died of sickness. He'd been put in the tomb, but he was already in heaven. And he'd been there about four days. So he was weeping for Lazarus. Because he knew he was going to bring him back to the earth. Do you get that? Jesus knew heaven. That's been his home, that is his home, and he knew the glory and the majesty and the creativity and the dynamism and all the magnificence of the resurrection body, and now he's weeping for Lazarus because he's got to come back and live again in the land of the dying when he'd already gone to live in the land of the living.
So he was weeping as a divine, God-man, knowing he had to bring Lazarus back to this earth. If anybody here thinks you'd like to bring anybody back who died in Christ, whether it was a little baby, whether it was a mature person, "Oh, I'd love to bring my dad back, or my mother, or my wife, or a brother or sister. Man, you don't know anything about heaven, and you haven't comprehended the gospel". It'd be total selfishness. My glory. To come back and live four score three or four a little bit, what in the deal is that when you've got the privilege and the joy and the celebration of eternity? We see the divinity and we see the humanity of Jesus when it says, he wept. He wept. And look at the rest of it, it's just a beautiful, beautiful passage that we have here.
And he said, in verse 43, and "When He said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth.'" And I believe they heard him all the way to Jerusalem. "The man who had died came forth, bound hand, and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. And Jesus says, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' And therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what he'd done, believed, but others," next verse, "they did not believe". They did not believe. Now notice something. What I did not read is they went and rolled the stone away from Lazarus's grave. I've been right down that very road. I've looked in that little bank of caves that are there where they have stones rolled in front of graves. And they rolled the stone away so what? Lazarus could get out. Right? He came out bounding, they unbound him, and Jesus says, "Let him go".
Now notice with Jesus, it is resurrection. They rolled the stone away, not to get him out, they rolled the stone away to show everybody he'd already been resurrected and he'd gone out with his resurrected body, which is not limited by physics. What a difference! You see, Lazareth was resuscitated, he had his old body back when he came back to life, and one day he died. Jesus, he was resurrected like we'll be resurrected, and have our new body and it will be prepared and be built for eternity. What a difference. Let me tell you something. It says Jesus loved Lazarus. Everybody who Jesus loves, and everybody who loves Jesus, guess what? They're going to die! Shock, shock, shock, write that down, Pastor said, everybody's going to die, that's what we learned in church today. And the when and the how and the where and the inbetween we don't know, but thank God he's in charge of that.
And we need to get a new perspective of death, that we get here with a resuscitation, and we could say, in one sense, the resurrection of Lazarus. Do you think that we'll be resurrected after we die if we're in Christ? Let me tell you something. The resurrection has already begun in your life and in my life. As we receive Christ, we have that resurrection power. And therefore, we have a new perspective of death. To be absent of the body is to be present with the Lord. And the clear word that Jesus said to Martha, "I'm the resurrection and life". You don't die in Christ, you live forever.
And then the last little vignette that's here, it's so good, it's still the Gospel of John, it's the 12th chapter. "Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made him a supper there, and Martha was serving". That surprise anybody? Boy, if there were ever a left-brained person, that was Martha. "But Lazarus was one of those seated at the table with him. Mary took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume".
I love that verse! I love that story! Mark tells us that they were in the house of Simon. Simon the leper, as he's been identified, was in all probability the brother of Lazareth and the father of Mary and Martha, now they're in his house. And boy, that would be a table, wouldn't it? Wouldn't you like to have been seated there? Lazarus telling you about heaven. How was that four days? Let me tell you something, folks. And yet Simon saying, "Boy, I had leprosy and all my limbs were gone, and now they came back and the scales were gone".
Let me tell you about that, folks. Mary and Martha, you have Jesus... boy, what a banquet, what a moment there! And then in the middle of that, Mary goes out, and she takes a box, it has pure nard in it, and that was a perfume that they would find only in the mountains of the Himalayas. That's in India. And they would go and take this nard, and it was a high, high-priced perfume, a liquid that they would sell all over the Middle East, very, very expensive. And she took that perfume out and she, at the feet of Jesus, began to anoint the feet of Jesus, and he took her hair down. In that day, a woman's hair was a mark of her glory, and she dried his feet with her hair with a pure perfume that was there. And drying his feet, an act of worship. What was she doing?
The Bible tells us that she was preparing for his death. She didn't save all these ointments as they did, as they would anoint the body when a body would die in that day. She gave it to him as an act of worship, everything she had, the best that she had, worth probably $3,500. It would be the equivalent of what someone would make for a year of working. $3,500 plus. She poured all of it out on his feet, about 12 ounces, we would imagine. And then we see, taking her hair, drying his feet with her tears. What did Mary know that most of them had already missed? Four days later, Jesus would be crucified. Three days later, he would be resurrected from the dead. She gave to him while he was living because she saw that he would soon die.
You say, "Well, how did she know that? How did the apostles"? She spent a lot of time at the feet of Jesus, that's how she knew it. That's how she knew it. And then that wonderful phrase. The room was filled with the fragrance of that perfume. There will come a day, ladies and gentlemen, when the heavens will part, and Jesus will part the heavens, and he will come accompanied by archangels. He'll come, and there'll be the sound of trumpets. And he will come, there will be shouting and praise. The dead in Christ will be raised, those who are alive will be caught up with him in the air, those who're dead will be coming with him. And then they shout, he'll begin to call names.
Jesus said, I know my sheep, and they know me, and when I call, they come. And in that shouting they will be named, called Mary, Alice, Bill, Tom, Joe, Edwin! Will your name be called? Will your name be called? That's the Lamb's Book of Life. Jesus will call those names, and if our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, we will enjoy and live with him forever and forever on a new heaven and a new earth that we can't even imagine the fragrance of that life. To say it simply, when the roll is called up yonder, will your name, and my name, be on that roll? If so, there'll be a sweet, sweet fragrance forever and forever and forever. And because he lives, we're so confident that we too shall live.