At Jesus' Feet

Date: 10/04/2015 
The touching story of Mary Magdalene. As she spent time learning and praying at Jesus feet, wonderful things happened.
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I want to welcome our friends who are watching to the Heroes of Faith presentation series. These are stories of salvation that give us insights into a number of Bible doctrines. And tonight, we're going to be dealing with one of the heroes of faith that is a real interest of mine. Now, some of you may already know where we're going, but let me just check. If I were to ask you, 'Who do you think is the most devoted of the disciples in the New Testament?' What would you say? John.

John, Peter - now it's a trick. When you say 'disciple' people automatically think 'apostle'. There were a lot of disciples that were not apostles and I'm actually thinking not of one of the twelve men apostles, I'm thinking of one of the lady disciples. And I believe it was Mary Magdalene. You know, she was one of the enigmatic characters that you find throughout the gospel story that appears in a number of interesting geographical situations where she is always at Jesus' feet.

In fact, a few years ago I wrote a book by that title called ‘At Jesus' Feet: the gospel according to Mary Magdalene’ and it is not at all related to what they did with Mary's life in the Da Vinci Code and some of these apocryphal books. And they say that she had some kind of romantic relationship with Jesus. We just take the Bible stories about Mary and, through those stories, we learn a lot about the gospel and we learn a lot about salvation and our relationship with the Lord. And so, today is our case study in our Heroes of Faith. We're going to find out what the Bible tells about Mary.

Now, to start with, the first passage we're going to consider is from the gospel of John, chapter 8. And it's a story you only find in the gospel of John and it says here - I'll start with the first verse - "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?' This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger, as though He did not hear."

Now the reason that they had developed this whole trap was because they were trying to get rid of Jesus and they knew that only the Romans were allowed to pronounce the death sentence and if any of the rabbis or religious leaders pronounced the death sentence on someone - they were going to execute Mary right away, they didn't care. Then they would run to the Romans and say, 'This rabbi, Jesus, doesn't respect your authority.' Jesus would be arrested. If Jesus said, 'No, I don't believe in the law of Moses, they were going to use their stones to create a riot and stone Jesus for rejecting the law of Moses. So they thought, 'Either way, we've got Him now.' And what they did is - they created a trap.

There was a young lady that had come to Jerusalem for the feast - this was a feast week - her name was Mary, later known as - I believe this woman was Mary Magdalene. I'll tell you why in a little bit. Magdala was a town on the Sea of Galilee that had a notorious reputation. It's where the roman soldiers went for vacation. And if - you know, they have Jesus of Nazareth - the town you're from. Mary Magdalene is Mary of Magdala, but if you were to say it today, you would say, 'Mary of Las Vegas.' You know, that kind of takes on - sin city - takes on a whole different scenario. And so, just the very name meant something. And so they knew what her line of work was, and it was easy to set her up.

It's interesting to note - it says they caught her in the very act - well, if they caught her in the act, where's the man? Because, according to the law of Moses, the man and the woman who were guilty of adultery were to be equally punished; but since He was complicit in this plot, they let him go and they just brought her and threw her down at the feet of Jesus.

Now Jesus acted like He didn't hear them. He didn't say anything, but He stooped down on the ground and He began to write in the dust of the temple floor as though He didn't hear them. Well, they kept pressing Him. They continued asking. And He said to them, "He who is without sin among you" - He stood up and said in those immortal words, 'He who is without sin among you, let Him throw the first stone.' And then He stooped down again and continued writing.

Now there's a lot we can learn here. First of all, what do you think He was writing? I believe Jesus was the Son of God and God the Son and all things that were made were made by Christ; and I believe Jesus was there when the Ten Commandments were delivered to Moses. And there's only a few times in the Bible when God actually writes - you've got when the Lord wrote the Ten Commandments. You have the hand that wrote - from God - on the walls of Babylon - the handwriting on the wall - that judgment that was written there. And here you've got Jesus writing. You know, it's the only time in the Bible it talks about Jesus writing. We've got four gospels about Jesus. It tells us He sang a song one time. This is the only time it says He wrote something. I think He was writing down the law - more specifically, the sins that these accusers were breaking, of the law. And He began to write down in detail - it took them a minute to notice it, while they stood there asking Him.

They finally paid attention. First they thought maybe He was doodling in the dust, and then they noticed He was spelling out some of their specific sins. And after He said, 'He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.' And they looked at that; they were overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and shame as though they were in the presence of the Divine Law Giver. You know, we'll all someday sit down at the judgment seat of Christ. And here they were, in the house of God, seeing the Son of God, writing out their sins against God, and they realized they had no right to claim the audacity to stone this woman when they had set this up and led her into this sin - you know, it's called being an accomplice - so they could just use her. They didn't care about the law, all they cared about was their position. Even Pilate said he knew that they delivered Jesus because they were jealous.

And one by one, as they saw their sins, "Beginning with the eldest even unto the least:" - they dropped the stones they probably gathered to stone her and they went out with their heads hanging until soon, all of the accusers were gone and there's this woman. Now, you have to look at this story, for a moment, through Mary's eyes. Can you imagine how mortifying it would be? I mean - I've thought before, how embarrassing it would be, if each of us had a video screen on our head where people could see what we're thinking. I flew on an airplane one time and on the back of every seat they had a little screen and in the middle of the night I got up - on an overseas flight - and I saw all these screens illuminated at every chair - and I thought, 'What if everybody had one of those on their forehead?' And you could see whatever they were thinking? Can God? He can. We'd be embarrassed for people to know what we're thinking but, you know, the Bible says that all we do is open and naked to the eyes of Him with whom we'll have to give an answer.

Can you imagine if you were married and you're doing something that you shouldn't be doing - it is a sin - and all of a sudden the religious leaders in the community come bursting in to your place of business. And, without giving you a chance to get properly clothed, they drag you through the streets of the city, creating a spectacle as you go, and then they bring you to the holiest place on the planet and they throw you down at the feet of the holiest man who ever lived. Would that be a shameful situation to be in? I've been arrested a few times - I mentioned the other day - and one time, I'm not proud to tell you, I got arrested for indecent exposure. I woke up and there were several police around me and there they were writing me up and I had nothing on. And then I'm in jail - 'What are you in for?' 'Bank robbery.' (Laughter) 'What are you in for?' 'Murder.' 'What are you in for?' 'Uh, skinny dipping.' (Laughter) It was really, really embarrassing. I can't imagine how embarrassed Mary must have been.

But, you know, I heard a preacher say, one time, that's probably the best place in the world you can be when you're in trouble, is at the feet of Jesus. Amen. And there's where she first appears in the Bible. She's at the feet of Jesus. She's in shame. She is feeling sorrow for her sin and He knows that she's guilty, but He's not there to condemn her. As all of her accusers went out, Jesus finally stood up and He said, "'Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you;'" Wouldn't you like to hear those words from Christ? Yes. Though she was guilty, He said, 'I didn't come into the world to condemn the world, I came to save.' And He doesn't want to condemn you - we're already condemned. We're under a death sentence. He wants to save us.

And He didn't just stop by saying, 'Neither do I condemn you.' Was Jesus saying that adultery is now okay? Did He say, 'Don't worry, the law of Moses has been - it's nailed to the cross. You can now break the Ten Commandments.' That's not what He said. Adultery was still a sin and it is true that Moses said that people that were guilty of adultery, in particular, if it was someone that was married - two people married - that the decree was stoning. And so, for Jesus to say, 'I don't condemn you. Go. You're free.' How could He do that? Well, I've got a theory - I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it. I think that this was the first time that Mary appears. It refers to her as a woman, but you'll see that there's another story in the Bible where John refers to Mary as a woman in another embarrassing situation and another gospel writer tells us that woman was Mary. You see, when their gospels were written, they didn't want to embarrass her.

And so, I think that she understood - here's my theory - 'The reason I can let you go is because I'm going to trade places with you. Yes, you sinned, and the penalty for sin is death, but I'm not here to condemn you, I'm here to save you. I will take your penalty.' Amen. 'You go and you're free.' But notice what He says: 'Go and sin no more.' A lot of preachers don't talk about that part of the verse. You notice He also didn't say, 'Go and try to sin a little less.' (Laughter) He didn't say, 'Just, can you please cut back on that adultery? And, you know, see if you could, you know, get the patch and slow down a little bit.' He said, 'sin no more.' Jesus was called Jesus because He will save his people - not in their sins, but from their sins. The Lord wants to save us from our sins.

He said, 'I haven't come to condemn you.' The Lord wants to give us deliverance and when she recognized that He was willing to forgive her, she thought, 'Now here is a real man of God.' She sensed, in the presence of Jesus, the power and the love of God and Mary had probably known a few men and they had all had ulterior motives. And here was someone who was going to love her with a pure, unselfish love and it broke her heart.

You know, I ought to say one more thing before I - I leave this first point - is that Jesus didn't like it one bit when the religious leaders were ready to throw stones at someone who is guilty in the church. Now, a woman in Bible analogies, often represents - who knows? A church. A church.

The Bible says, 'Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.' And tells us, 'I've likened the daughters of Zion' - God's people - 'to a delicate and a comely woman.' And all through the Bible God compares the church to His bride. And so here's a woman who is indeed guilty, but when the religious leaders are gathering around to throw rocks at her, Jesus doesn't like it one bit. There's a lot of people out there that are ready to throw rocks at the church. And has the church sinned? And are there hypocrites in the church? You know, if you read the book of Ezekiel chapter 9, it talks about another judgment in the house of God. You know, here Mary is in the house of God and they're ready to judge her, but Jesus turns the judgment around and says, 'beginning at the eldest, even unto the least, they went out.' In Ezekiel 9 it says, 'The judgment, beginning at the eldest' - beginning with the ancient men - there's a mark that is placed on those that are saved and the others are destroyed - kind of like Revelation. So we've got to be careful about throwing rocks at the church.

So here we find Mary at Jesus' feet, weeping tears of repentance, but she falls in love with Jesus because he's willing to forgive her. Now, when we first discover this person, then we see that she doesn't have a very good reputation. Matter of fact, later in the Bible it says, 'Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus cast seven devils' - she'd gotten into trouble several times. And it's not like one time He cast out seven devils, it's like seven times she fell and He forgave her. How does a young lady get to the point where she's going to auction herself like that?

Years ago I was working in Palm Springs. I had just accepted the Lord - I was a baby Christian - and, believe it or not, I had a job at a restaurant playing guitar and flute and it was an after-hours restaurant in Palm Springs. It was like a hippie restaurant called The Peach and the Frog and the people got out of the bars when the bars closed and they were hungry and they'd come here and they'd eat. So they hired me a little bit and gave me free food to play. It didn't last very long because I'm just not really very good. But they were drunk and they didn't care and so I got off work really late, is what I meant to say. And so I'm driving home in Palm Springs - it's like 2 or 3 in the morning - and I see that there's this man and his daughter sitting at a bus stop and I think, 'Oh, a lot of tourists in Palm Springs don't know the busses stop running at midnight.' And so I pulled over and I said, 'If you guys are waiting for the bus,' - I said - 'you're going to wait a long time. There's no busses now.' And they said, 'Well, actually, we called a cab, but it's been 45 minutes and we don't think he's ever coming.' And I said, 'Well where are you going?' I used to hitchhike all the time so I give people a lift. And they said, 'Well, we're going down here to the south end of town.' I said, 'Well, hop in.'

So they both hop in the back, which I thought was odd because I was driving a Volkswagen Bug. (Laughter) and as I'm driving down the road towards where the man told me to go, I look in the rearview mirror and I realize this is not a father-daughter relationship. They were very affectionate. And I got to where he directed me and he kissed her goodnight and got out and she sat there. I turned around and said, 'And where are you going?' She said, 'I'm going back to such and such a place.' Well, I knew about that part of town and I said, 'Okay.' And so I took off driving and she was still in the back seat and, as I was going down the road, as I went by the different street lights, her face would illuminate every now and then and she looked so sad. Well, I'd just found the Lord and it just made such a change in my life, I just felt impressed - and I don't recommend this for young Christian men to do your Bible studies this way, but I didn't know any better. And I just felt impressed and said, 'Would you like to stop and get a cup of coffee?' It was a long time ago. And she said, 'Sure.' They had an all-night coffee shop there - I don't know if anyone remembers - there used to be this chain called Sambo's Restaurants - ten cents for a cup of coffee - all you could drink. And so we stopped there at this restaurant and I talked to her for a minute and then I addressed what I understood to be her occupation.

Now, I should mention, I grew up in New York City and my brother and I used to play on 42nd and Broadway and you learn way too much way too young, so I knew what was going on. And she indicated, yes, that's what she did. Then I realized she may have misunderstood my question and I said, 'Are you happy?' And her whole expression changed. And I started to tell her about Jesus and what He had done for me and I said, 'Why do you do it?' She was telling me she lived with some pimp that, you know, beat her up one day and gave her gifts the next day and she was very - 17 years old. I'll never forget, her name was Marlene - I still see her whenever I tell the story. And she started to cry and it left those typical little black rivulets down her face and her mascara and she said, 'I just want someone to love me.'

And I - whenever I read about Mary Magdalene I think - you've heard this story - looking for love in all the wrong places. A lot of people get into trouble because they're looking for love. And that's what she was looking for. And when Jesus loved her with that pure love - that unconditional love - it melted her heart and she became His most devoted follower because she understood something no one else seemed to understand - and I'll get to that as we go on.

Next study we're going to find Mary is at the feet of Jesus, but now she's doing Bible study. You turn to the gospel of Luke and in chapter 10 you can find where it says that there was a dinner in Galilee and verse 38 - Luke 10:38, "Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha,'" - that's the only time in the Bible, I think, the Lord says a woman's name twice. He often said, 'Abraham, Abraham' or the different - 'Samuel, Samuel' - "'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed,'"- how many things? - "' thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'"

Like the demoniac we talked about the other night, she's sitting at Jesus' feet, drinking in the word. He's teaching her how not to make the same mistakes that had caused problems in the past. And, you know, when Jesus said that's the one thing - this is so important because you've got two women here - what's a woman represent? Church. Sisters - very opposite - one is sitting at the feet of Jesus in love and devotion and drinking in the word and the other is work, work, work. She's serving the Lord, but she's so busy with the work of the Lord, she forgets the Lord of the work. And a lot of people get involved in doing good deeds for church - for the Lord - and they don't have that one-on-one relationship - a personal relationship. Doesn't the Lord say that in the judgment, when He comes, He'll declare to many people, 'Depart from me, I don't know you.' 'Oh, but Lord, we've taught in Your streets and we conducted many potlucks and we gave to the orphanages and we went to the hospitals and we took care of the clothes and we went to the prisons.' And He'll say, 'I don't know you.' That's why we're saved by a personal relationship with Jesus.

How does that happen? How do you get to know anybody? I didn't marry Karen the first day I met her. When you fall in love with somebody, you communicate. Whenever you're going to love somebody it takes communication. You talk to them. They talk to you. How does God talk to us? That's why we sing that song each night - Give Me the Bible - it's through His Word.

Do you have regular time at Jesus' feet listening to Him? You need to - you need to make that time. It has to be more important to you than your daily bread. 'I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.' Jesus said, 'Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' Do you have a devotional life? And, it's not only His talking to you, it's your talking to Him. Do you pray? And then, of course, you show it by deeds of service and love, but first you've got to have the love relationship. We love Him because He first loved us.

How do we learn about his love for us? When we look in His Word and we see what He did for us. It inspires us with love. So she sits at Jesus' feet and she hears the word. And this helps her develop that love relationship with Jesus. And we need to have that kind of relationship with Jesus also.

And then we've got another point where Jesus is at - or Mary is at Jesus' feet. I actually skipped, I think, over point 2 and I went to point 3. She spends time at Jesus' feet praying for her brother that is dead. Now, if you look in John chapter 11 - you remember, a message comes to Jesus, 'Your friend that you love, Lazarus, is sick.' And Jesus does not come right away to heal him. Several days go by and by the time Jesus gets there, Lazarus has not only died, he's been dead several days.

Now, Mary had a brother and a sister. I want you to notice something: Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany, I believe, and many scholars believe, are the same Mary. Here's some reasons for that: first of all, both women appear to be women of means because it seems like they are able to support Jesus from their substance. Mary of Bethany gives a very expensive gift and it says Mary Magdalene ministers to Jesus of her substance - and that's in Luke chapter 8. Both are called Mary - same name - but that was a common name. Both were unmarried. Both names are never mentioned together anywhere in the Bible. You never hear the two mentioned together. And, again, it says that you often find them at Jesus' feet, geographically, and they both seem to have bad reputations. At a feast it says, 'Don't let Mary of Bethany touch you.' Same thing about Mary Magdalene - 'Not Mary.' And so, because they're never mentioned together - and sometimes a person - Jesus is known as Jesus the Carpenter, and Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus Christ. And Mount Sinai, in the Bible, is also called Mount Horeb. And it's not uncommon to have more than one handle that people address you by.

So Mary had, when she lived up in Magdala for her business - she'd come to Jerusalem for the feasts. She had a brother and sister that lived in Bethany, which was just outside of Jerusalem, and her brother Lazarus died. Jesus finally comes down to Bethany and they run to Jesus. And you can find Mary - you can see it here in John 11:32, "Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her (from the funeral) weeping, He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled. And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept." - That's the shortest verse in the Bible - at least in the English.

What does death represent in the Bible? Well, death, of course, is the absence of life, but he that has the Son has life. He that doesn't have the Son does not have life. Are we surrounded by a lot of people that are spiritually dead in the world? Should we spend time at Jesus' feet praying and weeping over those who are lost? If you really think about it, if you know Jesus and if you're a Christian, you have everlasting life. Have you ever thought about that? What could possibly be worth more than everlasting life with a glorified body and pleasures that you can't imagine forevermore? Bliss - eternal glory - life - beauty - what could be worth more than that? If you're saved and you have that, and you know a lot of people that are heading towards destruction and judgment and punishment, and you've got the serum for their disease and you don't share - you have no burden - do you have a burden for the lost? Yes. Do pray for those. Do we sometimes weep at the feet of Jesus, for the world that is perishing around us? This is like the church - or like Mary - the church should be spending time at Jesus' feet, pleading with the Lord for the lost.

And what did God do because of her prayers? Did He perform a miracle? And give new life? You know, Jesus brought them to the tomb and He said, 'Roll away the stone.' And they said, 'Oh Lord, but this is a - this is bad, you know, he's been dead four days.' And Jesus told Martha, He said, 'Look, I'm - I'm going to raise him up.' And she said, 'Well, I know he's going to be raised in the resurrection at the last day.' - Which was an important point. When is the resurrection? The last day.

I think three or four times just in the gospel of John it says the resurrection on the last day. It's telling us that the day of the Lord - the judgment day - when the Lord descends from Heaven, 'The dead in Christ will rise' the Bible says. And He says, 'I'm not talking about that one. I'm going to do something special now. Roll away the stone.' So reluctantly, Martha instructs the servants and they roll away the stone. And Jesus says, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And when they roll away the stone they can smell it. They know he's dead. But then they hear a shuffling, ruffling, muffled noise coming from the tomb and out shuffles their brother, very much alive, and Jesus says, 'Loose him' - unwrap him.

Was Mary glad that she spent time weeping at Jesus' feet for her brother? Did He answer that prayer? But, you know, she said, 'What took you so long?' It was later than they thought. So when you're praying for loved ones or someone that you want to have life, you must be patient. Sometimes it even looks hopeless. Don't give up. Keep praying. They said, 'Jesus, what took You so long?' I know ladies that have prayed for their husbands for like 20 years that they'd come to the Lord - or longer. Parents that have prayed for their children 40 - 50 years and then God works a miracle. I've known people that have come to the Lord years after their parents are dead and I think that God finally made a withdrawal on the prayers that the parents had stored in Heaven, that they might find life. And those parents are going to be very happy. They went to the grave thinking their children were lost and in the resurrection they're going to say, 'How'd you get here?' (Laughter) and the angel's going to say, 'You know all those prayers you prayed? They were compounding interest and God did something with it.' So we need to spend time believing and praying. The reason Jesus came into this world is to save the lost.

Nothing is more important than praying for the lost and we are surrounded by brothers and sisters that are dead in trespasses and sins. So the church, like Mary, needs to be doing that. Then we need to spend some time at Jesus' feet in sacrifice. And this is a place where Mary really shines. You can find this story - and they give little perspectives that are different in the gospel of John chapter 12 - it's called the dinner in Bethany - in Mark chapter 14, in Luke chapter 7 - and I think I'm going to go to Luke's version - in Luke chapter 7, verse 36.

It says, "Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with Him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And, behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil." Now if you read this in Mark and John, she anointed His feet and she poured the remainder on His head. That's very important, because the word Christ - I told you - means anointed. The word Messiah means anointed.

Here Mary, she anoints Him from head to foot. You know, only a few people were anointed in the Bible - Kings were anointed. David, you remember, was anointed by Samuel. Prophets were anointed. Priests were anointed. Sacrifices were anointed. Jesus is our priest. He's our prophet. He is our king. He is our sacrifice. She anointed Him from head to foot. Not only with this very costly oil that was meant for kings - she anointed Him with her own tears.

Now when I first read this, I thought that that meant she was just crying so profusely she was shaking her tears off. I thought, 'Man, if you can wash someone's feet with your tears, you've got to really be - yeah - how do you do - you're cutting onions or something - how do you get that many tears out of your - and then later I realized that it was a custom in Bible times that when people were going through times of great sorrow and they were crying, they would actually have a flask with a little gentle lip on it and they would catch their tears. And it was considered sacred sorrow and they would bottle it and save it and that was a memory of their sorrows when they were weeping or mourning something.

And she took this vial of her tears - Mary, maybe, had a big vial. She poured it on Jesus' feet. Your feet, in the Bible, represent your walk. Politicians tell us they feel our pain. I'm not so sure. But Jesus did experience our sorrows. He walked in our pain. He understands our tears. The Lord knows how you feel. Matter of fact, God's got a record of every tear you've ever dropped. There's not a hair of your head He's not counted. I've counted my own, actually, it's not that big of a deal. (Laughter) but He knows what you're experiencing. And so she bathes His feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair - that's a woman's glory is her hair. This is a symbol of complete submission - at His feet, crying, anointing, kissing his feet. And the fragrant oil filled the house.

Now the Pharisee who had invited Him, he saw this and some of the apostles also saw it and, you know, the Bible says Judas - the gospel of John - Judas murmured and he said, 'Oh, what a waste! If this ointment had been sold it could have been given to the poor.' Judas didn't care about the poor, he cared about the money in the bag and he used to rob from it. It's interesting: Mary's sacrifice convicted Judas' greed and selfishness and so he criticized her gift and Jesus said, 'Let her alone, the poor you have with you all the time, but Me you don't always have.' And He goes on to say, 'What this woman has done will always be spoken of where the gospel is being preached.' And it's being spoken of today. And Simon - it tells us that he is called Simon the Leper, in the other gospels - He was a Pharisee who Jesus healed from leprosy. And he has this feast in Bethany - probably the feast that Martha was rustling around getting ready for - has this feast in Bethany to honor Jesus and Jesus comes and when they see Mary, who had a bad reputation in town, and Jesus is letting her touch Him. Simon says within himself, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."

There you have it. There's no question about what the Bible says about Mary. He, evidently, thought she was a bigger sinner than he was. Jesus, knowing what he's thinking and what Judas is thinking - you know, I also thought it was very interesting - there's only two records in the Bible of anyone kissing Jesus. Mary kissed His feet and served Him. Judas kissed His face and betrayed Him. Mary was content to kiss the lowest spot. Judas wanted the highest spot and he betrayed Him. And so Simon is thinking, 'If this man was a prophet - even though He healed me from leprosy - I - how does He let this woman' - and I'm wondering, how does Simon know so much about this woman? "And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Simon, I've got something to say to you.' He said, 'Master, say on.' 'There was a certain creditor that had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more?' Simon answered and said, 'I suppose the one whom he forgave more. '" And He said 'You're right.'

He turned to the woman and He said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman?' - Everyone saw the woman. They could smell what she'd done all through the house. 'You see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water to wash My feet.' Which was the customary, polite thing to do. 'But she's washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no kiss but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many,' - He's not contesting that. She was a big sinner - 'her sins, which are many, are forgiven.' Isn't it good to know that Jesus can forgive many sins? Amen.

And then Christ goes on to say, 'for she loved much.' - "...her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." Is it safe to understand? He who is forgiven much, loves much. I used to read this and I thought, 'Lord, I need to love you more.' - What does that mean? I've got to go out and sin a little more? - 'And the more I sin, the more You forgive me, the more I'll love You.' I thought, 'Well, that's kind of a strange way to work things.' Is Jesus saying - you know, people grow up in the church.

I preached this message once, many years ago, and a lady came up and said, 'I've been in the church for generations.' Of course, nobody's really in the church for generations because God has no grandchildren. But she said, 'Yeah, you know, my parents and grandparents - we've been in the church for years. I grew up in the church, and I hear these testimonies of people who are out there and they're just really in the gutter and the Lord saves them. They've got these dramatic transformations and testimonies and I thought, 'I've never done anything really wild like that.' I figure if I'm going to love the Lord, I need to just go out there and go berserk and then repent and come back and then I'll have a testimony and then I'll really love the Lord.' And I said, 'God forbid!' the Lord isn't saying you've got to go out there and be a scandalous sinner and then come back to the Lord and then you'll really love and appreciate Jesus, He said, 'He that is forgiven much, loves much.' Who is not forgiven much? Amen. Simon, evidently, thought that she was a big sinner and he was a little sinner.

Cheer up, you're all big sinners. There are no little sinners out there. You all qualify because no matter what you think your list of sins are or what your records look like, your sins are enough to put Jesus on the cross all by yourself.

Everything that Jesus went through He would have had to go through for you. So you do qualify. The thing is, do you know how much you've been forgiven? He that knows how much they've been forgiven, loves much. And you know how you can tell how much you've been forgiven? How much did it cost to buy your forgiveness? They say, 'How much is something worth?' It's worth what someone will pay for it. How much was paid for your redemption? Quite a bit. That's how much you're worth. He that knows how much they're forgiven. If you understand how much Jesus paid for you, you will love much. And then He said to the woman, 'Your sins are forgiven.'

Wouldn't you like to have Him say that to us? Here she is, she's making this great sacrifice - she spent enough money to buy a gift for a king and she pours it out on Jesus. You know, she heard Jesus say several times - Christ, before He goes to the cross - He says to the disciples, 'I'm going to Jerusalem. I'm going to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. I'll be crucified. I'll be beaten and judged and I'll rise the third day.' And the disciples said, 'No, no, Lord, what are You talking about? No, don't - none of that.' The disciples weren't listening. Christ said it so often that even His enemies remembered it. They went to Pilate and said, 'We heard this deceiver say He'd rise after three days. His enemies heard it. Mary heard it too. And Jesus said, 'She's come to anoint Me before My burial.' We typically give gifts to people after they're - you know, their flowers at their funeral or something, and everyone says these wonderful things after they're gone - that they never said when they were alive. Some of them aren't even true and they still say wonderful things, right? Mary wanted to show her love while Jesus was alive. And if you want the Lord to know that you love Him, do it while He's blessing you. She gave a generous gift. Do you think she ever regretted making that sacrifice for Jesus?

Next, what we find is that Mary is - she's at Jesus' feet now, in surrender at the cross. Now this is a fascinating picture because, you know, the apostles in the garden of Gethsemane, they were very bold and at the last supper, Peter said, 'Though all men forsake Thee, I'll not forsake You.' And when the mob first came to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out a sword, but they all scattered and ran. And then at the cross it said that they 'Stood afar off beholding these things' - in the gospel of Luke - but if you go to John chapter 19, verse 25, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." It's the devoted women who are actually there at the cross, the others are standing watching at a distance. They're afraid, but the women don't care what's going to happen to them. They're willing - they're thinking about Jesus' suffering. They want Jesus to see that they care. They're being sympathetic and empathetic and they're showing their love there at the foot of the cross.

You know, here we see Mary at Jesus' feet again, don't we? Weeping, no doubt, at His feet, beholding Him, finally paying the debt for what He had promised earlier when He said, 'Go and sin no more. I don't condemn you.' All of us, like Mary, need to spend time at Jesus' feet beholding Him as our sacrifice. How many songs are written about the cross? At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light. Beneath the cross of Jesus I will take my stand. Jesus keep me near the cross - why do all these hymn writers write about the cross? Because the cross is the axle on which the gospel rotates. It is the very fulcrum on which the whole Bible pivots.

It's at the cross you see Christ's power of love and it's at the cross you can even see the devil's love for power. You see the great contrast between God emptying Himself at the cross and you see the diabolical villain - the arch fiend - the devil - how he's trying to extract all the suffering. Jesus is saying, 'Father, forgive them.' And it's at the cross we see His love for us. How are we going to repent of our sins? The Bible says 'It's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.' And so it was through seeing this sacrifice that it brings us to complete surrender. So here Mary's at His feet weeping at the cross.

You know, the cross is one of the most misunderstood truths in the Bible. People think the cross is a good luck charm. Everyone's in a hurry to wear the cross, but they don't want to bear the cross. Christ said, 'If you would come after Me, you must deny yourself daily, take up your cross, and follow Me.' Paul said, 'I am crucified with Christ.'

I remember reading one time, in World War II in Italy that this soldier jumped into a foxhole just as bullets chafed over his head. And he wanted to get a little deeper because the foxhole wasn't quite deep enough. And so, with his bare hands he's digging in the foxhole and He unearthed a silver crucifix that another soldier had, evidently, left there before. And right at that moment a chaplain jumped into the foxhole and ducked and the soldier said, 'Boy, am I ever glad to see you. Can you tell me how to make this thing work?' (Laughter) and that's kind of how it is in Christianity. Everyone's wanting to know - 'We could put the cross on the church' and 'People wear crosses' and 'How do you make it work?' You know, it's through seeing the sacrifice of Jesus and seeing His love for us - by beholding that - there's a transforming influence when we see His love. You know, when you look at Jesus dying on the cross for your sin, it's hard to be angry at the petty things we do to each other. It helps give things perspective. But I need to hasten along.

Next you see #6 - Mary in service at the tomb. When they took His body down from the cross, the women went along to watch after Him. Mark chapter 15, verse 45, "And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen, and laid Him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid." That means they oversaw the care of His body. You see the devotion even there. And I - you know, before - they didn't have time to anoint his body and Sabbath was approaching and that was very sacred to Jesus and the apostles. It says they went home and prepared spices and kept the Sabbath according to the commandment - in Luke chapter 53. But before they did that, they did wrap Him because when Jesus arose, there were wrappings that He set aside. Who do you think wrapped His feet? Can't prove it, but I just picture Mary saying, 'Let me wrap His feet.' And the other Mary wrapped the top end and - you can read also about that in Luke chapter 53 - 'The women also that came with Him from Galilee followed after. They beheld the tomb and how His body was laid.'

You know, it's important to sit at His feet, but doing what Martha does is also important and that's service. But you notice the love and the listening comes before the service. Now it's interesting that, when you read in Mark 16:9, it says, 'When He arose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, which leads us to the next point: Jesus is now - or Mary is now at Jesus' feet in song. Of all the people He could appear to - when He arose early on the first day of the week He appeared to Mary Magdalene - and it goes on to say, "Out of whom He had cast seven demons." Why does it say seven? In the Bible, isn't that an important number? Doesn't that kind of capture your attention? Seven.

You know, I was reading and you can look in Proverbs chapter 6, verse 16 - sin is sort of encompassed in seven things, according to Solomon, "These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue," - you've heard of the seven deadly sins, huh? - "Hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren," - 'these things I hate' - so when it says He cast seven devils out of Mary, what does Mary represent? She's a type of the church. You can find any sin you might commit somewhere in those categories, but the good thing is He cast all those devils out. He can forgive and deliver from all of that. You know, the Bible also says 'A righteous man may fall seven times, but he rises again.'

So Mary is now at Jesus' feet. It tells us the story in the gospel of John that, you know, the women came very early. Mary, evidently rendezvoused with the other women, but she got there first. She started to backtrack and she encountered the other women coming with the spices. They came together, they saw the angels, those women ran off to tell the apostles. Mary found John and Peter - they were in different places - they come running back to the tomb. The tomb is empty, they leave. I did a deep study in the sequence of how this happened because I wrote about it. And then Mary's there alone. All these other people had come and gone, including the apostles. Mary's there alone and she won't leave. She thinks 'This is the last place I saw my Lord, and I'm not leaving until I find Him. I don't know where to go from here but I, with my own eyes, placed His body in this tomb and I'm going to wait for Him.' There she was with her eyes - been crying all weekend, waiting.

How many of you heard that story years ago, about Greyfriar's Bobby? There was a little Scottish Terrier many years ago in Scotland - Edinburgh, Scotland - had a shepherd master and his name was Old Jock. And after years of the dog loving and working with his master, his master died and he was buried in the church cemetery - Greyfriar's church. And that dog, for the next 14 years, he'd go into town once a day and he'd beg for a little bit of food and then he spent the rest of his time on his master's grave. And there's a monument there and they ended up burying the dog there. He said, 'This is the last place I saw my master.' And the dog wouldn't leave. Any of you ever heard that story before? Beautiful story.

You know, they talk about man's best friend - the devotion of a dog - and here's Mary. She saying, 'This is where I saw Him. I'm not leaving.' And Jesus saw that love and that devotion. She's there crying and she looks up and she sees Him, but she doesn't know it's Him. Her eyes are swollen and red with tears and He says, 'Mary,' - she thought it was the gardener - and, actually, He was. Jesus planted a garden eastward in Eden - the Garden of Eden - all things that were made, were made by Him. And then she heard Him say her name, 'Mary.' She said, 'if you've taken away my Lord, tell me where you've laid Him and I'll take care of his body.'

Listen to that love. And, you know, I always have these pictures in my mind. I think Jesus was a strong carpenter and she says, 'I'll take care of His body.' And I try and picture - what if they said His body is over there? Mary's going to go get His body and she's going to drag the form of the carpenter's body. She didn't know how she was going to do it. She said, 'I'll take care of it.' Maybe His body was evicted - it's a rich man's grave - who knows what the Romans did? But she said, 'I'll take care of it.' Look at that. She didn't know how, but she was going to do it. And He says, 'Mary.' And then it registers and she throws herself down. She had heard that voice before, casting out devils. Throws herself down at Jesus' feet to worship Him. He says, 'Don't detain Me. I'm not yet ascended to My Father, but go to My brethren and tell them that I ascend to My God and to your God. I want you to go and tell them.'

Now think about that. Of all the people Jesus could have chosen to share the good news, why would He pick Mary? Peter had been to the tomb. Maybe His own mother had been there. John had been there - the beloved disciple? He waits until they're all gone and this person that everybody figured was an outcast from society, He reveals Himself to her.

You know, if I was the Lord, I would have orchestrated the resurrection differently. I would have had Jesus, like, first appear to Pilate and say, 'Now what do you think?' (Laughter) Those Roman soldiers didn't do a good job keeping Me in.' Or, you know, better yet, I would have gone to the Sanhedrin and gone to Caiaphas and Annas the high priest and said, 'So, you didn't think I was the Son of God? Now what do you think?' Just look at them, you know, just watch them shake. Jesus does things differently. He picked someone that was considered the weakest of the weak.

The Lord, when He turned the world upside down, it says, 'Not many wise, not many noble,' but He takes people that have simple love. He doesn't do things like you and I do. He takes humble means and the Lord then used Mary and gave her the greatest message in the world. He said, 'I want you to go' - what is the church supposed to do? First we see her coming to Jesus in the temple in repentance, and in the end she's going with a song in her heart - this is the last time Mary appears in the Bible. The last time you see her, she is running to tell others that Jesus is alive.

He commissions her with the good news to go tell people about the resurrection. And this is what the church is supposed to do. Here you see the seven points I've just given you. She's at His feet weeping in the temple, for forgiveness of sins; she's at His feet praying for her dead brothers and sisters - for resurrection - and Jesus does it; at His feet learning and listening - devotions; at His feet giving; at His feet beholding Him on his cross - six - at His feet in service - seven - at His feet worshiping and proclaiming Him as the risen Savior.

You know, if the Lord could use Mary - if He could forgive Mary, He can do that for us. But all of us are like Mary. All of us need to experience those seven points. Time serving, listening, praying, worshiping, proclaiming at Jesus' feet. And it begins by coming in sorrow and presenting ourselves. It doesn't matter what our sins are, He is in the business of saving us from our sins. Do you believe that friends? Amen. He wants to do that for you. We need to spend time, like Mary, at Jesus' feet. And there might be some time we need to spend at Jesus' feet weeping. (Soft background music playing) I read a quote by Vance Havner, where he said, “God uses broken things. He takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread and broken bread to give strength. It's a broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It's Peter weeping and broken that returns to greater power. And it was Mary who, broken hearted, came to Jesus and He was able to use her.”

Have you fallen at the foot of the cross? Have you been broken? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior? All you have to do is come just like you are. Your life might be defiled. Know that you are a big sinner and that Jesus will forgive those sins and you can love Him much. Do you want that experience, friends? You who are watching? Let's ask Him.

Oh dear Father, we're moved and encouraged by the devotion of Mary and it inspires us - her faith - that we might have this devotion too. We know this story's in Your word so we can have this experience and we pray for that now, in Jesus' name, amen.

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