The Gospel “In Memory Of Mary”

If you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, as I do, you believe that the Bible is as wise in what it says as in what it does not say.  A myriad of lessons can be learned from the Bible by (reading the empty spaces between the lines).  Mark Chapter 14 is one such case.  Upon reading the first eleven verses a student can’t help but be struck by the stark contrasts that Mark poses.  In a few sentences Mark takes us into the dark world of evil while at the same time introducing us to a giant burst of holy light.  In a staggering economy of words, Mark highlights the co-conspirators of Jesus’ crucifixion AND the woman who sacrificed enormously for the chance to worship at Jesus’ feet.  The conspiracy to kill Jesus and the betrayal of Judas, “one of the twelve,” is sandwiched between the anointing of Jesus by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (see John 12). 

The co-conspirators of Jesus’ death did everything they could to destroy Him.  But Mary, on the other hand, did everything she could to honour Him.  That’s what Jesus said about her.  “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8).  Isn’t that a freeing statement?  What does God expect from us?  What is He asking of each of us?  It is to do what we can.  None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something.  And that something is doing what we can. 

What can we do about the evil all around us?  What do we do when faced with another betrayal of Jesus by one of His own?  The answer is simple and liberating.  Do what you can to honour Him.  Keep doing it.  For some that amounts to much more than others but our sacrifice is not based on the amount we give but on the motive of the heart.

The “high priest and scribes” were seduced by power, and Judas was seduced by greed.  As the old saying goes, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were poisoned by the power of their position.  Judas was just as evil but was poisoned by a lust for money.  Satan himself is said to have entered Judas because he loved money more than friendship, love, and loyalty to Jesus. 

But Mary was motivated by worship of Jesus.  That’s how it’s meant to be for all Christians.  The posture of our heart toward Jesus is the dividing line between good and evil.  This is an enormous help to us individually.  Do you ever feel sandwiched between corrupt power and greed in the world?  Do you ever feel caught in a world of conflicting motivations?  Then worship Jesus.  Do what you can to honour Him.

You will be attacked, ridiculed, threatened, and dismissed.  But the joy of giving your very best to Him is all that you need.  He will take care of you and of your reputation.  Note in the story that Jesus came to Mary’s defense.  “Leave her alone,” He told the complaining crowd.  I can hear the firmness in His voice as He advocates for her.  And then He adds that “wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” 

We will always have evil conspiracies to silence Jesus, and we will always have betrayers from among our ranks.  But what matters is that we do what we love the most.  Worship Jesus.  Sacrifice our all for Him.  Leave the results in His hands. 

Can’t wait to see you on Sunday as we begin our journey to Easter based on Mark’s Gospel, Chapters 14-16.  See you at 9AM or 11AM.

Pastor Deric

Spiritual-But-Not-Religious (SBNR)

My friends at “Prepared to Answer” have helped me enormously by identifying a great danger to my faith. “There is an emerging trend in spirituality captivating our culture that stands in direct opposition to Gospel truth.  Despite the plurality of religions represented across Canada, the spiritual and religious perspective quickly gaining dominance is identifying as “spiritual-but-not-religious” (SBNR), also known as ‘SBNA’ (spiritual-but-not-affiliated).  This broad and vague religious attitude sees spirituality as an entirely internal and privatized experience.  The prime objective for SBNR is self- actualization.  Christians must safeguard their faith against the trappings of SBNR spirituality.  Biblical faith stands directly opposed to contemporary trends in spirituality.” (S. Stein) 

The truth is that this trend is nothing new.  It’s a well-established fact that most of the people coming to faith in Jesus in the first century were coming from idolatrous, pagan religions that were fraught with corrupt practices.  Very often newly converted believers had a difficult time breaking free from the forces that enslaved them.  Pagan practices were so prevalent that it was customary for a new believer to renounce Satan at the time of their baptism to ensure a clean break from their old ways.  Not only did the baptism candidate renounce the devil, but the baptizer would command all evil spirits to depart far from the new Christian.  Pagan religious culture was so dominant in ancient Corinth that it was sometimes hard for them to draw a line of separation.  It was much less gruelling to blend the old way with the new.  So, the Corinthians were trying to live in the two worlds at once. 

That’s why Paul wrote to them in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 6 and said, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?  Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Therefore, go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

For the Christian there is only one option: love, worship and serve the one true God.  Period! There can be no unequal yokes, partnerships, fellowships, deals or agreements that contaminates our worship, relationship and service to the one true and only God.  As soon as we touch the unclean thing, we have jeopardized our friendship and fellowship with the Lord.  Next to the sinner being justified by faith alone (Romans 5:1), walking in true holiness is the greatest emphasis of the Bible.  The believer is commanded to “cleanse themselves from every defilement of body and spirit” in order to advance and mature personal “holiness in the fear of God.” 

Join me on Sunday morning at one of our two services when we will dive into this great text. 


Pastor Deric

P.S.  Just a reminder that this is our last study in our Gospel and Culture series.  Next Sunday I’ll be returning to the Gospel of Mark where we will begin studying the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.  It’s a gentle reminder that we are already turning our hearts toward the Cross and the Resurrection.