The Proverbs 31 woman has been met and matched by many women…
Richard Wurmbrand said the sufferings of the Underground Church around the world were like Crushing a flower in which the fragrance of Christ is released.
This morning I want to introduce you to a 15 year old Blandina. Blandina is one of our own. But she is exalted above us. She lived 177AD, in Rome, while Marcus Aurelius was emperor. This was a time when Christians were being persecuted. Blandina was a slave and both she and her master were Christians. And both were arrested. She was said to be physically weak and frail in certain ways. This made the believers fear she would not hold up well with the persecution the Romans were going to inflict on her. But she proved them wrong. “I am a Christian and we commit no wrongdoing” she repeated after every question by her interrogators. They proceeded to harm her. And what physical weakness she may have had she more than made up for in spirit….(Richard Wurmbrand said that when the Nazi’s tortured him before the Communists “They taught us that physical beatings could be endured, and that the human spirit with God’s help can survive horrible tortures.”)
She was giving up her very life, but she was not giving up Christ. They tied her to a cross in the arena and released the wild animals on her. But the animals refused to touch her. They pulled her down and after a time her torturers were exhausted and said “We don’t know what else to do to her!” Finally they succeeded. Not in taking her faith, but, her life. She was released from her suffering and entered into a glorious welcome on the other side. Like a drink offering she was poured out. Blandina – a flower crushed, but a fragrance so sweet. Her death was her worship.
Do we worship like a woman? The Bible presents some pretty fantastic women. Have you ever stopped to think about the spiritual caliber of women in the Bible?
- The poor widow who gave her only 2 pennies;
- the woman who wept on Jesus feet and washed them with her hair out of gratitude for saving her;
- the women who followed Jesus around financing His ministry;
- the women followed Him to the cross, to the grave;
- The women prepared burial spices and went to His grave after the Sabbath. Thus they were privileged to become the first witnesses to the empty grave;
- Mary was the first to actually see Him resurrected.
The Proverbs 31 woman has been met and matched by many women throughout Scripture. Their devotion to the LORD is awe-inspiring. Let their devotion live on in each of us. This morning we will meet another one.
Every Christian woman here should make these their role models. Girls, try to grow up to be like them. Parents, raise your daughters to follow their examples.
But their example is not simply for women or girls. Their devotion to Jesus is not “feminine”. It is not a gender trait. It is a spiritual trait. It is Christian. That same kind of complete abandon for Jesus when seen in men is absolutely awe-inspiring as it is in these women. So today we are going to take our cues from a woman when it comes to worship. My hope is that we worship like a woman.
#1: Offer Counter-Cultural Worship (1-2)
I’m not trying to be cute. I’m just simply saying that continue to worship Jesus when it’s not in style.
The leaders hate Jesus. They declared that anyone who believed in Him would be put out of the synagogue (Jn 9). That is no small thing. They’ve been looking for a way to kill Him for a while now. But they’ve essentially reached their limit with Him. For 3 years they’ve watched His popularity grow as theirs waned. It was time to be done with this blasphemer who does tricks by the power of Beelzebub.
But they don’t want to arrest Him during the Feast. It could blow up in their face with riots. Don’t you love how they’re always factoring in public opinion (11:32;12:12)?
Application: Worship Jesus even if you’re the only one in the universe willing to do it.
Application: when you are determined to sin you’ll succeed. Satan is on your side and He will make sure to coordinate the opportunity for you. They wanted to kill Jesus and look here comes Judas filled with Satan (Jn 13:27). That caring guy who isn’t your husband will come around. That alone time for the internet will open up. When you are determined to sin you’ll succeed. Determine instead to be righteous. With the Spirit’s power, the Word of God, and the grace of God resolve to be righteous.
#2: Offer Costly Worship(3)
She gave Jesus premium worship. That perfume was worth a year’s wages.
Did you know that the most expensive perfume I could find in the world right now is a 3.4oz bottle of Roja that goes for $3,500? The average annual income in Ottawa county is $69K. $69K would buy 67 ounces of Roja. That’s a lot of Roja, and that’s a lot of moolah!
What would you do with that much money? What did she do? She didn’t keep it to pay the bills. She didn’t sell it and give the money to charity. She worshiped Jesus with it. We don’t know if she was rich or middle class or poor. There were rich, middle class and poor women who followed Jesus around financing His ministry. We don’t know how she came by that perfume – either she bought it or it was a gift. If she bought it there was a monetary sacrifice in her worship. If it was a gift there certainly was a sentimental value -someone must’ve loved her very much to give her that much costly perfume. Of course, she must’ve loved Someone very much to give Him that much perfume!
You know who offered God worship at great personal cost? Abraham. He worshipped God by leaving Ur. He worshipped God when he believed God’s promises. He worshiped God when he obeyed God to bring his son up the mountain. God of course prevented Abraham from going through with it, because Abraham manifested his intention to go through with it. He worshiped God at great personal cost.
Application: Give Jesus your best. What we offer as worship is never wasted. If we want to show Jesus that he is the best to us then we can give him nothing less than the best we have to offer. Iif we want to show him that he is worth more than anything to us then we must give him what is worth the most to us.He is worthy
Application: Choose Jesus. Worship may mean choosing Jesus over something else that you really want. It may be in the pull of temptation that you sacrifice indulging your flesh and choose righteousness instead. That is worship and it is what “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” means in Romans 12. The cost may also come in your convictions when you have to let go of ideas you’ve had that are contra-biblical. This is worshipping with your mind, your intelligence, and it is what “taking every thought and making it captive to Christ” means in 2 Cor. 10. The cost of worship may also come in losing friends and family because you stand with Christ on biblical truth. This is worship and it is costly. The cost may also come in being passed over for promotions or jobs because you are faithful to Christ. The cost may come when they vandalize or steal your property. The cost may come when they come for your life. Your death may be your last act of worship.
#3: Offer Criticized Worship (4-5)
Then the criticism comes. And from all places the disciples! Read 4-5…
John 12 explains the details here: Judas was the guy who managed the ministry finances and he initiated the criticism. Then the rest of the disciples joined in.
“Preach in season and out of season…” Paul said to Timothy. Worship when it’s in season and out of season. Have you ever been criticized for doing something you knew was right? Have people ever been wrong about you and you had to suffer their mistreatment? If so, this woman understands you.
So does Jesus. He was criticized by these very same disciples, led by Peter. Earlier in chapter 8 Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about His coming death and resurrection. When you are committed to God’s will criticism will come from outside and, sadly, it will come from inside the Church. Such criticism comes from those who are out of touch with God’s will.
If you worship like a woman you will be criticized.
#4: Commendable Worship (6-9)
Jesus comes to her defense. Is there anyone better to have on your side? Speaking more broadly, that’s what He does right now for us: “But if anyone does sin we have one who speaks the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:2) This is Jesus as our Advocate and Intercessor. At the end of the day it’s Jesus’ opinion of us that counts.
He says what she did was beautiful. Every act of true worship is beautiful! He says they can help the poor anytime they want because the poor are always going to be there. Jesus wasn’t being insensitive to the poor. Helping the poor is certainly an act of worship of God (Cornelius…others). But here that valuable resource was better put towards Jesus. And Jesus commended her for it.
#5: Worship As a Contrast (10-11)
This woman was a contrast to Judas. How she treated Judas was a stark contrast with how Judas treated Jesus. Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. He was the one who in the end betrayed Jesus for 30 pcs of silver. According to John Judas was the first one to speak up against the woman and the rest of the disciples jumped in with him. Judas and the others were offended by Mary and her act of worship. Why? Because he says that what she gave to Jesus could have been given to the poor. Judas appears very philanthropic. He appears to be a caring and generous person – one who was on the look out for helping others in need.
At least that’s what he wanted the others to think.
But John tells us that really Judas was a thief. His betrayal of Jesus for money had been going on for the entire 3 years that he was with Jesus. He was the one who held on to the money bag that had all their cash to support their ministry. And he liked to take money that was for the needs of the ministry and spend it on himself. He was a crook. He became the treasurer of their ministry so he could get his hands on the cash. And in the end he sold out Jesus to His enemies for 30 silver pieces.
Do you know what was sold for 30 pieces in that day? A gored slave. Jesus came as a slave. He didn’t come to be served but to serve. He didn’t come to do His will but someone else’s will – the Father’s. He became a slave and He was gored on the cross.
Judas was a false disciple. You know what the difference is between a true disciple and a false disciple? You know what the difference is between Judas and the woman? One is in it to give to Jesus and the other is in it to get from Jesus. The False disciples look real, they look religious, they look moral and generous, but, they are counterfeits. They have no real interest in giving honor to Christ. Their only interest is in what Christ can do for them.
Judas was the “devil” Jesus said in John 6. He was the bookkeeper of Jesus’ ministry according to John 12. He had been stealing from Jesus’ ministry John says the whole time. Maybe selling the perfume would have loaded up the ministry funds and allowed him to steal and stash away even more. Judas was in it for what he was going to get out of it. Jesus was supposed to become king and he – Judas – was supposed to be given honor and power and position in his kingdom. But Jesus started talking about being killed and buried and all that. That’s not what Judas thought this was all about. Money, fame, glory, power. The final straw was right here when Jesus defended this woman. “She prepared me for burial”. The reality hit home for Judas and he knew it wasn’t going to happen like he hoped.
Do we worship like Judas? What we get from Jesus? Or do we worship like a woman? What are we giving to Him?