BIG IDEA: What did Jesus spend his last days doing? It tells us a lot about what he valued most. Last week we saw Jesus “serving others” up to the very end. In fact, on his way to accomplish the most important task in the history of the universe, he stopped to serve a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. Jesus served by GIVING of himself to others… But we see Jesus doing something else in these last days: we see Jesus willfully RECEIVING worship. This two-step rhythm of service and Jesus worship should inform our lives as followers of the way.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 14:1-9
1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
SERIES: Last Days
What did Jesus spend his last days doing? It tells us a lot about what he valued most.
- George Herbert was a 17th century pastor, orator, and poet.
- At a very young age, he began writing essays in Latin.
- He became the Cambridge Orator.
- At a certain point, he felt the Lord call him by reminding him of the promise he had made to his mother to serve the Lord.
- At 33, he became an ordained Catholic Priest, and at age 36, he received his first parish in Bemerton, where he served for three years before he died.
- Why do we know his name? Because of 167 poems that he wrote and never published. But when Herbert was approaching his last days, he gave his memoirs, including these poems, to a dear friend of his, asking that if they were of any value to him, they be shared, and if not, that they be burned in the fire. Herbert’s friend read the poems, and they were of great value and have remained of great value ever since. Anyone who studies poetry will study George Herbert.
- Writing for joy: George Herbert wrote poetry simply because he enjoyed it. He had no intention of gaining notoriety or praise.
- Sacrifice: Herbert started out in the high courts of England, but he gave that up to become a lowly priest.
- Not one of his poems are addressed to a human or are written in honor of a human. Every poem was, in one way or another, about God and Herbert’s walk as a Christian.
- Herbert models this: the chief end of a human being, of our energy and creativity, are ultimately for the worship of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and God the Spirit.
- Jesus was very welcoming to worship in his last days because it’s such a valuable use of our time and energy.
- Service and Worship are so important and vital elements to our walk with Christ, as he himself modeled for us.
- The Service of Others
- The Worship of Jesus
- Jesus Anointed: when the woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume, his disciples were confused because they thought that the best use of that expensive perfume would be to sell it and use the money in service to others, but they didn’t understand the importance of worship. They weren’t wrong, just short-sighted. There’s a time for service and a time for costly worship of King Jesus.
- Mary and Martha: This story illustrates the same idea. Don’t miss out on Jesus while you’re serving others. If God is standing in front of you, there should be no other thought but to worship him. Service and worship are not at odds with each other.
- Worship is experiencing God: Writing poetry, for Herbert, was an act of worship, it was part of experiencing God in the moment. In the writing of his poems, it was communion with God. For Herbert it was writing, but for others it could be singing or creating art or any number of other things.
- The Quidditie by George Herbert
MY God, a verse is not a crown,
No point of honour, or gay suit,
No hawk, or banquet, or renown,
Nor a good sword, nor yet a lute:
It cannot vault, or dance, or play;
It never was in France or Spain;
Nor can it entertain the day
With my great stable or demain:
It is no office, art, or news,
Nor the Exchange, or busie Hall;
But it is that which while I use
I am with thee, and Most take all.
- Jesus serves so that we might worship, and that’s the example we have. We serve so that others might worship.
- We were made to worship God, and any time we do things that are in line with how God created us – when we do what we’re made to do, it always ends for our good, the good of others, and God’s glory.
- There is a time for giving up an opportunity to serve someone in order to worship. When you get the chance to worship Jesus, you should take it. It’s not worship over service; it’s both.
- We forget the value of worship: We over-weigh the value of service and forget that worship is actually invaluable.
- If we only learn to walk with one of these practices, we are out of balance and begin going in circles. The Christian life is a life of both worship and service.
- We want to have balance by serving and worshiping. When we serve others, we are worshiping Jesus because we are doing what he did. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When we imitate Jesus, we are worshiping him. And when we worship Jesus we are actually serving others because there is nothing better than turning the world’s attention to Jesus. When we choose to give something else up in order to worship Jesus, it causes others to ask us why. What a profound service to them!
- People will ask you why you would give up such expensive perfume, why you would give up your money, your time, your weekends, your sex life, etc. for worshiping Jesus.
- Worship through serving and serve through worshiping.
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