Day 13 // The Tension of Sacrifice

Read: John 12:1-50


I had someone tell me one time that my problem was the need for approval, affirmation, and acceptance. Ouch! I do like people to like me. I don’t want them to think I’m weird. I want them to think I’m kind. Not to mention, I want them to think I’m funny and faithful.

I asked my husband recently if he thought people would describe me as kind. He said that some would, but maybe those who have been led by you might not think so. Well, that’s awesome!

So there you have it: not everyone is going to like you or think that you are all the wonderful attributes you want to be. We are still a work in process, right?

The comforting news is not everyone liked Jesus either, and He was perfect. Some did and were willing to sacrifice greatly. Others did not and were willing to crucify Him.

John 12 begins with a dinner given for Jesus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are in attendance. We are told that Lazarus is reclining at the table. Please do not bypass the fact that Lazarus, who recently was a dead man, is at the dinner hanging out with Jesus. How incredible is that!

At this dinner, Mary made a bold move and anointed Jesus. She broke open an alabaster jar of perfume that is worth a year’s wages and poured it on Jesus’ feet. Then she wiped his feet with her hair.

Mary has broken several social norms to worship Jesus. She should have been serving, she should not have taken down her hair, she should not have touched his feet, and she should not have spent part of her dowry. Some thought it was a terrible waste. Others were probably appalled at her behavior. It was crazy and inappropriate.

It was also a costly sacrifice.

Using part of her dowry might have sacrificed her chance at a future husband. Her lavish and unabashed worship is a sacrifice of her approval, affirmation, and acceptance.

Except from the One who actually mattered.

Jesus approved. Jesus saw it. Jesus experienced it. Jesus defended it.

Later in this chapter, Jesus explains sacrifice. He knows sacrifice. He knows the time of His death is drawing near. He asks if He should ask to be saved from His time of sacrifice. He responds to His own question with, “No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28

Jesus sets us the example of sacrifice. Like when a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, dies, and bears fruit. So Jesus will die, bear the sins of the world, and produce a harvest of children for God. His death, His sacrifice makes the way for us not only to have eternal life but also to live a life of sacrifice.

Near the end of our chapter, many religious leaders choose to believe in Jesus. But they are afraid. They are afraid of losing a high level of approval, affirmation, and acceptance. They will be kicked out of the synagogue. They have identified with their leadership roles and their places in the synagogue more than their identity with God.

God is asking these men to lose their jobs and their place in the community to publicly acknowledge their faith in Jesus. Had one of them chosen to do this at this moment, they would have lost the approval of man but gained the approval of God. We would have considered them heroes for all eternity. But we are told, “they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”

Is God asking you to sacrifice something on His behalf? Take a job? Quit a job? Serve somewhere? Stay in a tough marriage? Stay home with your kids? When we are willing to serve, lead, or be obedient for Jesus, we put ourselves in a position of scrutiny. People may not describe us with all the attributes we hope for, but we are promised that God will honor those who serve Jesus.


NEXT STEPS:

In your Going Deeper Participant Guide, let’s look at Day 13 beginning on page 29. Complete Look at the Details and Personal Application sections. Then come back here and share your answer to the following discussion question in the comment section below. (You can find the comment section at the bottom of this message. Just scroll down and you’ll see the words “Post a Comment.” Click there and share your responses.) Or, join the conversation on our Facebook Community Group.

"In verse 12:43 where it says, "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God," is this an issue you have? In what areas of your life does it come up?"

I will be posting my responses in the comment section too and on Facebook, so I hope to see you there! #undividedwomen