The Worshipper, The Follower & the Hater

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eleven verses of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the week of Jesus’ passion continuing to progress and is now in full swing and in full motion. As you begin reading this passage of scripture you will find the feasts just two days away, thus indicating the time of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice drawing ever nearer. With that being said, you will find within the first few verses of the of the chapter describing the chief priests and scribes continuing to seek their utter destruction and removal of Jesus the Christ from within the earth. Within the first two to three verses of this chapter you will find the scribes and chief priests continuing their ever increasing and ever growing hatred and animosity of and towards Jesus the Christ who walked among them. With noting is the fact that although it mentions the scribes and the Chief priests seeking to take and lay hold of Jesus Christ by craft although they would and could not do it during the feasts lest their be an uprising and an uproar. What we find in the opening few verses of this fourteenth chapter is actually incredibly unique and powerful, for it provides us with the foundation and backdrop of the deliberate and intentional actions of a single woman in Bethany whom John describes and tells us is actually Mary of Bethany who was the sister of Lazarus. While it is not mentioned in this particular chapter, it is thus implied and understood when you consider the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John and the account of Jesus in the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. If you look ahead and turn and direct your attention to the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find the apostle John writing and recording how Jesus was in the town of Bethany and how a supper was prepared—undoubtedly for Him—and how Martha was serving in order to make preparations for the supper, how Lazarus was among those sitting at the table with Jesus, and how Mary was the woman who brought with her an alabaster box filled with a fragrant aroma from a very costly ointment. I am convinced that in order to truly understand that which is found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by Mark it is absolutely necessary to consider that which is found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John for it brings us face to face with additional information which Mark doesn’t provide for us.

I have to admit that when I read the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as recorded by Mark, I absolutely love how the chapter begins and opens up. I absolutely love and am absolutely fascinated with and by the fact that this chapter opens with the Chief priests and scribes continuing in their hatred and animosity toward and against Jesus, and continuing their desire to utterly and completely destroy Him from the picture. That which we find in the opening verses of the fourteenth chapter of the gospel according to Mark is actually quite remarkable and intriguing for it serves as the backdrop—and I might say a necessary backdrop—for the events which would take place there within the town of Bethany. While we find within this passage of scripture the account of a woman who came before and unto Jesus with a very expensive ointment which she poured over and upon the head of Jesus, her deliberate and intentional act of worship was set directly against the backdrop of those who would and those who were seeking to kill Him. There is within this passage of scripture a clear and present dichotomy between those whose hatred and animosity toward and against Jesus would cause them to seek to eliminate and remove Him from the equation and picture at all costs, as well as a woman who would worship Jesus the Christ at any cost. Please note the fundamental difference between the two parties who are found in the beginning of this chapter, for the chapter opens and begins with those who would destroy Jesus at any cost, and that one who would seek to worship Jesus without regard to what it would cost her. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for to fail to do so would be to miss the tremendous significance and importance of that which takes place here in the town of Bethany. Here in the town of Bethany we find a great many of religious folk who would seek to destroy Jesus at any cost, it we find one woman who was willing to worship Jesus deliberately and intentionally without cost. Please note that there is a marked and clear distinction between the two parities which are found within this chapter of the gospel according to John Mark, for it presents with a wonderful and powerful picture of that which is still present within our culture and society today. That which we find present within this passage of scripture is a clear and concise picture of two distinct groups of people who are present within our culture and society, and how the one group is made of those who would seek to destroy Jesus at any cost, and those who would seek to worship Jesus without cost.

As you continue reading this passage of scripture you will find that there is actually three groups of people who are present within the town of Bethany, and perhaps even three groups of people who were present within the house where Jesus sat down for a supper that was prepared for Him. I am sitting here this morning and I can’t help but notice that there is within this passage of Scripture a clear distinction between three different groups of people who were present within the vicinity of Jerusalem, and perhaps even within Bethany itself. This chapter begins and opens up within the first two verses by describing the feast of Passover, and of unleavened bread being just two days away, and how the chief priests and scribes were still conspiring together seeking how they might take Jesus by craft and/or by deception and stealth. Here were are progressing even further into the week of the passion of Jesus and we find the hatred and animosity of the scribes and chief priests continuing to be as hot as it ever was. The one difference between their animosity and hatred which was previous written about in the gospel account written by Mark is that we are now in the week of Passion and are now in the week when their hatred and animosity will actually come to pass and come to fruition. I can’t help but be absolutely and completely captivated by that which we find in this passage of Scripture, for it begins and opens up with the chief priests and scribes continuing to seek the means whereby they might destroy destroy Jesus, and to completely and utterly remove Him from the equation. Within the first two verses of the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark we find the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread only two days away, thus indicating that possibly five days had passed within this final week of Jesus’ passion. The fact that Mark mentions the feast of the Passover and of unleavened bread just two days away indicates the timing during the week when the events which are recorded in this passage of Scripture are actually unfolding. With the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread just two days away, we find the chief priests and scribes continuing in their hatred and animosity toward and against Jesus the Christ, and we find them continuing to seek how they might not only lay hold of and take Him, but also how they might utterly and completely destroy Him. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand when reading this passage of Scripture that the chief priests and scribes didn’t merely seek to lay hold of and take Jesus to put Him in prison, but rather to kill and utterly destroy Him. The fact that the chief priests and scribes sought to lay hold of Jesus and to do so by craft indicates and suggests their deliberate intent of laying hold of Him in order that they might find the means to put Him to death. Putting Jesus to death would be the ultimate culmination of their hatred and animosity which was manifested within and throughout the life and ministry of Jesus as He walked among them, talked among them, taught in their synagogues, healed their sick, raised their dead, caused their blind to see, caused their deaf to hear, caused their lame to walk, and even fed their multitudes.

In order to continue writing concerning the events which took place and unfold within this passage of Scripture, I am convinced that it is necessary that we break apart these eleven verses into three distinct parts. In fact, I would dare say that there is within this passage of Scripture three distinct and three different groups of people who were present within the town of Bethany—three distinct groups of people which each had their own objective and deliberate desire and intention with Jesus the Christ. Within this passage we find a clear and present dichotomy between the chief priests and the scribes, Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, and Judas iscariot who was one of the followers of Jesus. It’s absolutely incredible and utterly amazing how there is within this passage of Scripture three different dynamics and three different realities which were present within and surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. There are three distinct groups of people within this passage of Scripture—the follower (disciple), the worshipper, and what I will call “the hater.” THE FOLLOWER, THE WORSHIPPER AND THE HATER! I am sitting here this morning and I am convinced that there is present within our culture and society each of these distinct groups of people, for there is within our culture and society those who would follow and those who perhaps have followed Jesus, and yet have found themselves worshipping, walking with and following a Jesus who did not meet and live up to their expectations. There is present within this culture and society those who have spent time walking with and following Jesus, and yet the more they walked with and the more they followed Jesus, the more they found and discovered a Jesus who not only did not meet their expectations, but also a Jesus who wasn’t what they signed up for. I previously wrote how the worship and praise which we find surrounding Jesus’ triumphal entry was in fact a pseudo and false worship, for those who cried out in the presence of Jesus were in fact worshipping Him in and according to the image of expectation. Their worship would quickly turn to hatred and animosity, as they found themselves looking upon a Jesus who did not and would not meet and fulfill their expectations, desires and wants. What we find in the life of Judas Iscariot is not necessarily a group of individuals who would worship Jesus in the image of expectation, but rather one who followed and walked with Jesus—undoubtedly with certain expectations and desires within his own heart—and actually reached the point and place within his life where he would and could no longer follow Jesus. We find within this passage of Scripture the follower—that one who was called and chosen by Jesus the Christ, and who made the deliberate and conscious decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ wherever He went. Judas Iscariot represents those who make the decision to walk with and follow Jesus, and yet as they continue to walk with Jesus the Christ, they find a Jesus who does not and will not live up to and meet their expectations.

Judas Iscariot represents the follower, and those who have made the deliberate and conscious decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ having been intentionally called and chosen by Him. While it is true that Judas represents those who have walked with and those who have followed Jesus the Christ, and yet have grown offended with Jesus because he did not and has not lived up to their expectations, there are those who I will call and label as “haters”—those who never walked with Jesus, those who never followed Jesus, those who never received Jesus, and those who would never think to worship Jesus the Christ the way others did during their day. The chief priests and scribes not only represent those who would not worship Jesus the Christ, but the chief priests and scribes also represent religion and the religious community and system that is not only present within our culture and society, but is also present within many of our churches today. I have chosen to label the chief priests and scribes as “haters” because all throughout the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ we find the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees, and even the Sadducees expressing their vehement hatred and animosity toward Jesus the Christ. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel represent those within our culture and those within our society who have never and will never worship, walk with and follow Jesus, and yet those who would profess themselves to be religious, and those who would profess themselves to be good and moral people. The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel would indeed classify themselves as good people, as moral people, and perhaps even as righteous people, and yet despite their own observation and declaration of themselves, they cannot and will not worship, walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. Although they profess themselves to be righteous and moral people, their hearts are utterly and completely filled with hatred and animosity toward Jesus the Christ because He neither meets their expectations, nor operates within their clearly defined parameters and boundaries. If Judas represents those who have grown offended with Jesus because He does not and has not lived up to and met their expectations, then the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel represents those who have grown offended and bitter with and toward Jesus because He does not operate and has not operated within the boundaries and rules they have set up and established according to their own traditions and rules. The chief priests and scribes are those who represent a people who have set up clearly defined borders, boundaries, rules and regulations within culture and society, and even within the church of Jesus Christ, and yet they are shocked to find that Jesus neither cares for their borders and boundaries, nor adheres to and operates within such borders and boundaries. The chief priests and scribes in this passage of Scripture are those who continue in their hatred and their animosity toward and against Jesus the Christ, and those who cannot get over and escape the hatred and animosity they have toward Jesus the Christ.

Moving along within this passage of Scripture you will find a third group of people who are presented by one who would be the minority in our culture and society. It’s interesting and worth noting within this passage that there was perhaps a number of chief priests and scribes who sought to lay hold of and take Jesus by craft, and yet how there was only one woman among them all who would actually choose to deliberately and intentionally worship Jesus the Christ. What’s more is that I absolutely love the account of Mary in this passage of Scripture, for she is deliberately and intentionally placed between the hater and the follower. Mary and her deliberate and intentional worship of Jesus the Christ is placed right in between those who would express their offense toward Jesus the Christ by seeking to take and lay hold of Him to destroy Him, and those who would express their offense toward Jesus the Christ by seeking to betray Him. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of what is found within this passage of Scripture, for it brings us face to face with a third group of men and women who are found present within our culture and society, and even within many of our churches. Within this passage of Scripture we find a third individual who represents those who would dare worship and adore Jesus the Christ—even in the midst of those who would seek to take and lay hold of Him by craft, and those who would seek to betray Him. It’s worth noting that those who did not and those who had not walked with and followed Jesus would seek to lay hold of and take Jesus by craft and by force, and that that one who walked with Jesus would actually choose to deliberately, intentionally and voluntarily betray Jesus into the hands of those whose hatred and animosity toward Jesus was fueled by a Jesus who would not more and operate within their borders, their boundaries, their rules, and their traditions. Smack dab in the middle of these two groups of people—almost like lightning striking the earth in the midst of a storm—is a single, lowly woman who would express her undying affection and love for and toward Jesus through worship. Here was this single woman who would choose to rise above the hatred of religion and the betrayal of fellowship and would choose to engage herself in powerful worship of Jesus the Christ. This woman would not be deterred by those who sought to destroy and remove Jesus, nor would she be swayed by those who would seek to betray Jesus into the hands of those who hated Him. I would dare state that Mary was not aware of what Judas was intending and planning on doing, nor was she aware of that which the chief priests and scribes were still desirous of doing, and yet she still deliberately and intentionally chose to worship Jesus the Christ with reckless abandon. It is at this juncture where I would present unto you the three groups of people which are present within this chapter of Scripture beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

“After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people” (Mark 14:1-2).

“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious: and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor, and they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:3-9).

“And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray Him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray Him” (Mark 14:10-11).

Here within this passage of Scripture we are directly confronted with these three groups of people—the worshipper, the hater, and the follower—and yet out of these three groups of people, only one was truly in love with Jesus and chose to do more than simply walk with and follow Him. Please note that I am in no way suggesting that the disciples themselves did not have their own desire, their own affection, and their own passion toward Jesus. We find Simon emphatically and boldly professing and declaring that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God when Jesus asked the disciples whom they said and whom they believed Him to be. We find the disciples standing in awe and worshipping Jesus on different occasions when He calmed the storm, and when He performed various miracles. What we find within this passage of Scripture is something that is quite honestly next level and something that is far beyond comprehension, for it is laid and set against the backdrop of those who would seek to utterly destroy and kill Jesus the Christ. It’s worth noting that when you read the account of Mary anointing Jesus with this very precious ointment which she broke at His feet, it was Judas Iscariot who murmured, grumbled and complained about what was perceived as waste. ANIMOSITY TOWARD WASTEFUL WORSHIP! WHEN “WASTEFUL” WORSHIP ISN’T UNDERSTOOD! WHEN AUTHENTIC WORSHIP IS DESPISED! When you read the account of this event as it was written and recorded within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find that the apostle writing and recording concerning this particular event how it was Mary the sister of Lazarus who anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. Beginning with the first verse of the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find the following account of this sister of Lazarus after Jesus had just raised Him from the dead:

“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him. Then took Mary a point of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of Him many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus” (John 12:1-11).

The account which the apostle John wrote concerning Jesus the Christ together with His disciples in the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus actually seems to be completely different from that which is written in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark. In the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark we find the events which took place occurring two days before the Passover, while in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find the account of Mary the sister of Lazarus taking place six days before the Passover. Now, it might be that six days before the Passover Jesus came into Bethany—which is certainly consistent with the account of the week of Jesus’ passion—and that what was recorded thereafter took place a few days later. Scripture seems to indicate that these were two separate and isolated events, for in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark we find Jesus and His disciples being in the house of Simon the leper, while in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find the events which took place occurring in what was most likely the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. What’s more, is that the events which took place in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark took place two days before the feast of the Passover and of unleavened bread, and the events which took place in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John took place six days prior to the feast of the Passover. What is actually quite interesting about the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark and the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John is that both contained the same three groups of people. If in fact the events which are written and recorded within these chapters are in fact two distinct and two separate events, then it is even more intriguing and even more interesting that the same three groups of people we witnessed and found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John. Assuming these events are completely different—though intrinsically related—it’s worth noting that within both passages we find the same presence of the hater, the follower and the worshipper. What’s more, is that there is a key difference between the events which took place within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, for while in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark we find and read how those within the house murmured against the woman who poured the ointment over the head of Jesus—in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find Judas himself murmuring and complaining against Mary who had taking a pound of ointment of spikenard, which was very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiping His feet with her hair. What’s more, is that in the gospel account of Mark we find the ointment poured upon the head of Jesus, while in the gospel account of John we find the ointment poured upon the feet of Jesus. In all reality there seems to be a clear and marked difference and distinction between each of these passages, and yet despite the differences that are found within these passages of Scripture we find the same three groups of people present in the house.

I have to admit that I absolutely love the fact that Scripture describes both of these events as taking place within a house, for I am convinced there is a clear indication that such events would and could occur within our houses of worship. There is not a doubt in my mind that within our houses of worship there can be the presence of all three of these groups of people, for there can be the follower of Jesus Christ who has grown tired and weary with following Jesus, and even offended with Him because He did not and has not lived up to and met their expectations. What’s more, is that there are those present within our houses of worship the worshippers of Jesus—those who are willing to worship Jesus without consideration to what it would cost them. There are those present among us who are willing to worship Jesus with reckless abandon and who are willing to take that which is very precious, and that which is very costly to them, and to anoint Jesus with it. There are those who are willing to take their worship of Jesus and make it as lavish and as extravagant as they possibly can without concern for who is around them, and what others might say. It’s worth noting that in both the case of what is written and found within the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark, as well as what is found within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John—neither women were at all concerned with what those around them in the house cared, thought, or would even say. They were determined to worship Jesus the Christ with absolute reckless abandon without any concern for the cost, nor any consideration or thought to how their worship might be perceived. A similar act of worship was found in the life of David when he danced before the Lord and worshipped the Lord, and even exposed himself in the process of worshipping the Lord his God. What’s more, is there is another event within the life of David when he would declare that he would and could not offer unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. In other words, David was one who wasn’t willing to worship the true and living God unless it cost him something, and unless it was extravagant and elegant. With all of this being said, it’s worth noting how the haters were willing to destroy and lay hold of Jesus at any cost, the woman was willing to worship Jesus without consideration of the cost, and Judas was willing to betray Jesus for a cost. Directly linked and directly connected to each of these groups of people is the idea and concept of cost, and the reality and concept of cost is displayed and demonstrated in a unique and different place within the lives of each of those who were present in the house. I would dare say, and I would submit unto you that there are those among us who are like the haters—those who will seek to lay hold of and destroy Jesus at any cost. There are those among us who have walked with and followed Jesus the Christ, and yet have grown tired, weary, and offended with Jesus, and would dare agree to betray Him for a cost and for a price. There is yet a third group of people within this passage of Scripture—those who would worship Him without any consideration or thought to the cost of their worship. It’s worth noting that those who would dare worship Jesus without any consideration of the cost are a minority among the haters and the followers, and the question we must ask ourselves is what group we ourselves fall into. Are we the follower—those who have walked with and talked with Jesus, and yet have grown offended with Jesus because He has not lived up to and met our expectations, and have agreed to betray Him for a cost? Are we the hater—those who have not walked with or followed Jesus, those who would not dare worship Jesus, and those who are offended with Jesus because He does not operate within our borders and boundaries, and as a direct result, we seek to destroy Him? Or, are we part of the third group of people—those who would worship Jesus the Christ without any consideration of the cost, and are willing to worship Jesus the Christ with reckless abandon as we give ourselves to extravagant worship? The decision is one that we ourselves must make, and we must recognize that there is absolutely no one who can and will make the decision for us, for we must make it ourselves in the presence of the living God.

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