Let Down Your Hair

Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. John 12:3

Shortly before Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary poured a bottle of expensive perfume on His feet. Then, in what may have been an even more daring act, she wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:3). Not only did Mary sacrifice what may have been her life’s savings, she also sacrificed her reputation. In first-century Middle Eastern culture, respectable women never let down their hair in public. But true worship is not concerned about what others think of us (2 Sam. 6:21–22). To worship Jesus, Mary was willing to be thought of as immodest, perhaps even immoral.

Some of us may feel pressured to be perfect when we go to church so that people will think well of us. Metaphorically speaking, we work hard to make sure we have every hair in place. But a healthy church is a place where we can let down our hair and not hide our flaws behind a façade of perfection. In church, we should be able to reveal our weaknesses to find strength rather than conceal our faults to appear strong.

Lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:24

Worship doesn’t involve behaving as if nothing is wrong; it’s making sure everything is right—right with God and with one another. When our greatest fear is letting down our hair, perhaps our greatest sin is keeping it up.

Search me, God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23–24.

Our worship is right when we are right with God.

INSIGHT:Worship can be an intensely personal and yet very corporate experience. We can worship alone, with a small group of friends, and with our local body of believers. Some of us dance, others raise their hands, some close their eyes and bow heads in reverence. There are many ways in which we can praise and worship God.

Mary offered her financial stability—pouring a very expensive perfume over Jesus, her physical being—using her own hair to wipe His feet, and her reputation—letting hair down was not something a “respectable” woman did in ancient cultures. Mary worshiped Jesus with everything she had. She knew who Jesus was and what He had done for her (He had just raised her brother from the dead; see John 11). Her worship was a response.

That’s what worship is—responding to who Jesus is and what He has done. How do you worship? How can you share your worship with another?

Learning in Troubled Waters

Psalm 34:1-19

God promises that when we face challenging times, He will keep His divine eye upon us. He wants to be our teacher and guide through the difficulty, but we must position ourselves to respond to His signals. That is, we need to:

Have a longing to follow God’s way and His way only. Scripture compares such yearning to a deer panting for water (Psalm 42:1). The same should be true of us each time we wait for God’s direction instead of acting on our own.

Be willing to be taught by God. He will transform trials into times of learning when we look to Him for guidance. Such was the case with Hannah as she pleaded for a child (1 Samuel 1:1-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10). It was also true for Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died (John 11:17-27). We need willing spirits if we are to learn what God wants to teach us in the “classroom” of His choice. Most of us would opt for a comfortable, pleasurable setting in which to gain understanding. But God knows the best way to instill wisdom and may choose pain and trouble as the place of instruction.

Yield to His will. Before we know God’s solution, He asks us to commit ourselves to His way. The Lord calls us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and to acknowledge that we are helpless without Him (John 15:5). To declare commitment to His way is always best.

Troubles are an unwelcome fact of life, but they can have value. Often what we wanted to avoid turns out to be the very thing we needed. God asks that we have a tender heart, a teachable spirit, and a yielded will. Does this describe you?

Gospel by Revelation

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)

In writing to the believers in Galatia, Paul was concerned that they were “so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (v. 6).

What was Paul’s gospel that he was so concerned about? “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever” (vv. 3-5). Furthermore, he added that “if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (v. 9). They were not to listen even if Paul or “an angel from heaven” (v. 8) preached another gospel.

Paul’s gospel, on the other hand, was “not after man,” i.e., not the sort of thing that men would make up. Human religions are all man-glorifying and God-degrading, blurring the difference between the two and tempting man with the age-old taunt: “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). In contrast, the gospel which Paul preached recognized man’s utter sinfulness and worthlessness and rested in a glorified Christ for His finished work.

Paul had not “received it of man.” This was not the tradition among his people. “Neither was I taught it,” said Paul, even though he had been taught extensively in the religion of Judaism. On the contrary, he was taught the gospel “by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We can therefore not only be sure of its accuracy, but, also with Paul, join in the “ministry, which [he] received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). JDM

“Altogether lovely.”

2 Corinthians 3:7-18

The apostle Paul gathers instruction from the veiled face of Moses, and presents it to us in 2 Corinthians 3:7-8.

1 Corinthians 3:8

Moses taught the letter—the outward signs and details of rule and order—but the gospel reveals the inner secret, the essence, the spirit of truth; surely this is more glorious than forms. Babes in knowledge may be most impressed with the glory which blazes before the eye, but men esteem most that inner light of spiritual beauty which irradiates the soul.

1 Corinthians 3:9

The law only reveals condemnation and death, how much more glorious is the gospel, which reveals righteousness and life! If the halberts and trumpets of a judge, when he opens an assize, are held in esteem, how much more the chariots of love and the banners of grace which adorn the procession of a beloved Prince!

1 Corinthians 3:10

As the moon’s light is no more bright when the sun appears, so is Moses eclipsed by our Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:11

Transient things can never, to the eyes of wisdom, shine with the same lustre as eternal realities. Sparks can never rival stars. It is the crowning excellence of the gospel that it shall never pass away. It is “the everlasting gospel”. Blessed be God for this.

Our Lord’s transfiguration was a visible token of the superior glory of the gospel, for not his face alone but his whole body glowed with a light excessive, which quite overpowered the three disciples. The glory of the gospel of grace astounds the angels, delights the perfect spirits, and deserves to be the constant theme of our reverent wonder. God in the gospel has laid open more of the glory of his nature and character than in all the world besides.

1 Corinthians 3:12-14

The glory of the gospel, in the types, was too great for the Jews, and a veil was needed; and now, alas, the glory of the unveiled truth has quite confounded them; but it is not so with us, we delight in a plain, unveiled gospel.

1 Corinthians 3:15

Or else they would clearly see Jesus revealed in their law, and would at once accept Him as Messiah. A veil over the intellect is bad, but a veil upon the heart is worst of all.

1 Corinthians 3:16

Poor Israel shall yet see her Messiah. The heart-veil shall be removed by His Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:17

The Spirit of God forbids our standing afar off because of the terrible presence of the Lord, and gives us in lieu thereof liberty to draw near to our heavenly Father in the sweet familiarity of reverent love.

1 Corinthians 3:18

Ours it is to possess a spiritual faith which looks into the inner truth, whose brightness is too great for unregenerate eyes. The Spirit of the Lord has brought us near to God, opened our purblind eyes, and given us to see the character of the Invisible God, and to become partakers of it.

 

Thou glorious Bridegroom of our hearts,

Thy radiant smile a heaven imparts;

Oh lift the veil, if veil there be.

Let thy redeem’d thy beauties see.

 

Then on our faces shall the sight

Kindle a blaze of holy light,

And men with awe-struck wonder see

The glory we derive from thee.

 

Who Was the Naked Boy In the Garden of Gethsemane?

Mark 14:51, 52

Just about the time Jesus was finished healing the ear of the servant of the high priest named Malchus, the Gospel of Mark tells us a naked young man was found in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14:51, 52 says, “And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.”

Who was this young man? Why was he following Jesus? Why was he naked? Why was he draped in a linen cloth instead of wearing normal clothes? And why was the Holy Spirit so careful to include this unique story in Mark’s account of the Gospel? What is the significance of this event?

The key to identifying this young man lies in the “linen cloth” he had lightly draped about his body. The particular Greek word that is used for this “linen cloth” is used in only one other event in the New Testament—to depict the “linen cloth” in which the body of Jesus was wrapped for burial (see Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, and Luke 23:53). Thus, the only reference we have for this kind of cloth in the New Testament is that of a burial shroud used for covering a dead body in the grave.

Some scholars have tried to say this naked young man was Mark himself. They assume that when Mark heard about Jesus’ arrest, he quickly jumped out of bed and dashed to the Garden of Gethsemane. But the Garden was remotely located, and no one could have run there so quickly. It is simply a physical impossibility.

Others have speculated that Mark threw off his clothes in an attempt to shock and distract the soldiers so Jesus could escape. This idea is preposterous. Others have tried with similar vain attempts to assert that this naked young man was the apostle John. But why would John be walking naked in the Garden of Gethsemane?

As I said, the answer to this naked young man’s identity lies in the cloth he had wrapped around his body. You see, when a body was prepared for burial, it was washed, ceremonially cleaned, and buried naked in a linen cloth exactly like the one described here in the Gospel of Mark. Furthermore, the Garden of Gethsemane was situated on the side of the Mount of Olives. Toward the base of that mount is a heavily populated cemetery, with many of its graves going back to the time of Jesus.

When Jesus said, “I AM,” the power that was released was so tremendous that it knocked the soldiers backward (see April 8). But evidently it also caused a rumbling in the local cemetery! When that blast of power was released, a young boy, draped in a linen burial cloth in accordance with the tradition of that time, crawled out from his tomb—raised from the dead!

The reason he “followed” Jesus was to get a glimpse of the One who had resurrected him. The word “followed” here means to continuously follow. This tells us that this resurrected young man trailed the soldiers as they took Jesus through the Garden on the way to His trial. When the soldiers discovered the young man who was following Jesus, they tried to apprehend him. But when they reached out to grab him, he broke free from their grip and fled, leaving the linen cloth in their possession.

Today, I want you to reflect again on the amazing power that was active at the time of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. He later told Pilate, “… Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above…” (John 19:11). Indeed, there was so much power present that no one could have withstood Jesus had He chosen to resist. Jesus was not taken by the will of man; He was delivered by the will of the Father.

Think how marvelous it is that Jesus freely gave His life for you and me! So much power was at work in Him even at the time of His arrest that no one had sufficient power to forcibly take Him. The only reason Jesus was taken was that He chose to willingly lay down His life for you and for me. So take a little time today to stop and thank Him for being so willing to go to the Cross to take your sin on Himself!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, You are so amazing! How can I ever thank You enough for coming into this world to give Your life for me? I’m sorry for the times I get so busy that I fail to remember the incredible love You willfully demonstrated to me by going to the Cross. You didn’t have to do it, but You did it for me. I thank You from the depths of my heart for loving me so completely!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly declare that God values me! He loves me so much that He sent Jesus into the world to take my place on the Cross. He took my sin; He carried my sickness; and He bore my shame. Because of Jesus’ work of redemption on the Cross, today I am saved, I am healed, and I am not ashamed!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. When you consider how much of God’s power was available to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, how does this affect your level of expectation for His power to work in your life right now?
  2. Have you ever witnessed God’s power working mightily in your life when no natural help was available? If so, when was it, and what happened?
  3. What did you learn from today’s Sparkling Gem that was brand new to you?

 

Ethics, Integrity

Recently I had lunch with a businessman who is struggling to return to Christ after a 10 year hiatus. In returning, one of his major conflicts centers on his claim that during that period he encountered professing Christian businessmen, but none who actually lived out a Biblical ethic.

 

Keeping in mind our daily struggle with ethics and integrity, let me make three observations :

 

1. All people believe in absolute truth:

 

Years ago in California, a drifter picked up a hitchhiking teenage girl, raped her and cut off her arms. Throughout the region, irrespective of religious or philosophical persuasions, there was a universal sense of rage as this riffraff received a relatively light sentence for the crime. The Word of God tells us the source of that rage:

 

When the Gentiles (non-believers), who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselvessince they show that the requirements of the law are written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2:14, 15)

 

2. The essence of morality is the Golden Rule:

 

We need not complicate the ethics issue, but simply ask this question the next time we are inclined to drop a piece of trash on the ground, or hedge on our income tax : “By engaging in this act, am I loving my neighbor as myself ?” (See Galatians 5:14)

 

3. The force of the Law is enhanced through accountability:

 

Given our depravity, we know that if there is no accountability, there is no keeping of the law:

 

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devisesHe says to himself, God has forgotten; He covers his face and never sees.‘” (Psalm 10:2, 11)

 

Conversely, the serious disciple of Christ is sobered by the reality of coming answerability, and chooses to live accordingly:

 

So we make it our goal to please HimFor we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:9b, 10)

 

 

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