#TheDifference Good News makes

Have you heard the expression “breaking open the piggy bank”? It dates back to when children collected their pennies in a a china, pig shaped container. When the pig was full, you’d smash it to get all your money out.

What would you invest everything in?

What would you break the piggy bank open for? One of the “dragons” on Dragon’s Den was notorious for never putting his money in to back an investment. In 1998 the Bradford City chairman Geoffrey Richmond “broke the bank” to invest in a promotion push to the Premier League. He saw the opportunity, took it and it paid off. Two years later he again went on a spending spree bringing in big name players but this time it failed, the team were relegated and the club nearly went bankrupt. So there is a risk when we throw everything after a cause.

Have you found the cause that you can throw everything into? I don’t just mean your money –and maybe it’s not about money for us –we’ve probably not got that much to invest anyway. But what would you invest your life in, your time, passion, energy?

Here a woman chooses to invest everything in Jesus. Mary and her sister Martha host a meal for Jesus with their brother Lazarus. During the meal, Mary takes a jar of perfume. It would have been worth a whole year’s wages. That’s a lot of money!  She breaks it open to anoint Jesus’ feet with the rich, sweet smelling perfume.[1]

Why does Mary do this?

I think the answer is best found later in the chapter. There, John tells us that some Greeks come to find Jesus.[2] Jesus sees this as a significant marker. The Gentiles are coming to him. The whole world is being drawn to him.  He says:

“Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil, it remains alone. But its death will produce many kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives.”[3]

Mary anoints Jesus because she knows he is going to die. She is paying her respects. She may not get chance to do this when he is arrested and executed. Now I think that Mary to some extent got it. She knew that Jesus’s death was in some way good news, that it was necessary to bring new life. Mary after all had been the one who took time to sit and listen to Jesus. She had found in him the one who had the words of eternal life.

There were other clues that there was good news here. The meal was to honour Lazarus who has himself been brought back to life.[4] Mary saw in Jesus , one who had life giving power and so she wanted to honour him.

Jesus is the one who it is worth investing your whole life in. He is the one who gives new life. He is the one who brings hope. He is the one who can enable us to face death without fear. Jesus is the one who through his death has brought forgiveness of sin, eternal life and peace with God.

Now if Mary got it, some didn’t

There were

The ones who don’t get it

Judas was an example of this. He watched on in horror. He saw Mary throwing away this valuable thing. She was wasting money with her extravagant gesture. He grumbled at the pointless waste of it all.[5] Actually the reason he didn’t get it was because he was blinded by greed. He had become a thief.[6]

Religion is full of people like Judas. They say all the right and respectable things about doing good. They appear concerned for order. They seem eminently wise and sensible. But if they don’t get who Jesus is. If they have not seen that only Jesus can deal with sin and give real, lasting, certain hope, then thy just won’t get it. They’ll go through the duty of religion but there’s nothing to motivate them into truly throwing their whole life in with Jesus.

We should be careful that we don’t miss out on the good news. We should watch out if we have lost the joy and delight that we first new when we put our trust in Jesus (worse still if we never had that joy in the first place). If we always see the negatives, if we are always critical when people are trying to reach out with the Gospel, if our natural instinct is to complain then we need to take heed. You know, it’s possible to be eminently sensible, to spot  all the genuine flaws, to identify the risks and completely miss the heart of God’s work.

The one who don’t want to get it

Some people are very cross. The religious leaders see what is happening and they are furious. They realise that Jesus is drawing people to himself and they decide to put a stop to it. They are rivals for Jesus’ glory. They love power and control. They know that with spiritual power comes great material gain. They see in Jesus, one who is going to upset the cosy status quo.

They decide to take action. They decide to kill. Now notice three things.

  1. That the Gospels constantly draw a contrast between Jesus, the author of life and his opponents who plan death
  2. The irony of the situation. It is because Jesus has brought Lazarus back from the dead that the people were going over to Jesus. So what do they propose? Let’s kill Lazarus again!
  3. That their actions will in the end lead t them seeking Jesus’ life too.

Human religion kills. It kills because people enjoy power and so they seek to crush and destroy anyone and anything that stands against them. It kills because it leads people away from Jesu, the one who is the only true source of life.

Conclusion –What is our response to the good news?

The good news that Jesus offers eternal life is amazing. This good news really is worth investing your whole life in. This means that we will not be like the religious leaders and Judas who opposed Jesus. Instead we will

  • Give or whole life to him. This means asking him to be Lord of your life and to fill you with his Holy Spirit
  • Taking delight in serving him. Seeking to honour him in all you do. This is not about paying him back or earning his love. Rather, it’s a way of showing that we are thankful to him for all he has done for us and trust him to be with us for all eternity
  • Telling others the good news so that Jesus is glorified.

[1] John 12:1-3.

[2] John 12:20-21.

[3] John 12:23-24.

[4] John 12:1.

[5] John 12: 4-5.

[6] Ohn 12:6.