Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Fragance of Love 3/21/10
KJV John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let (singular you) her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; (plural) but me ye have not always.

A supper was made in honor of Jesus, and along with Him were the 12 disciples, Martha, Mary and Lazaras who gathered the home of Simon the leper in Bethany for this festive meal. It is toward the end of Jesus' public ministry as He prepares to enter into His final week of His time on this earth, and to his suffering, to his death and to his resurrection from the dead. He comes to this dinner knowing that as he enters His week of passion that it is He who is preparing for the Eternal Marriage Supper that He himself invites all to participate in. There has been much rejoicing over the raising of Lazarus from the dead and especially to Mary is given the eye to see that Jesus is the Messiah who himself will suffer for the sins of the world. In her life that is chronicled by the Scripture, we see that Mary was often at the feet of Jesus.

KJV Luke 10:38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
KJV Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.

She had fell down at this feet in supplication and worship at the death of her brother.
KJV John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

And in our text, she had anointed his feet with the costly ointment of spikenard in devotion to her Savior.
Words are not sufficient to express the gratitude, adoration and love of Mary for Jesus, for she remained silent during this time of outward showing of her devotion. It is not clear how this act was perceived by the 11 disciples (Judas' response will be discussed later) or by Martha or Lazarus, but to the Object of her affection it is very clear as to what she is doing. There must have been great rejoicing taking place as they gathered around the table with the One whom had called Lazarus unto life, so that they would see the glory of God. KJV John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

In the few accounts of the life of Mary, we are given to see that she had a meditative and contemplative nature which caused her to spend time reflecting on the things of God while her sister Martha possessed a more practical and serving type of nature. Both of these gifts are highly valued in God's sight, for they have been given so that they may complement one another. The largest snapshot of their life together is given in the 11th chapter of John's gospel, the one just previous to the one in which our text of meditation is contained. We will make a brief journey through the chapter and then return to our meditation on the first eight verses of chapter 12.

KJV John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Their brother got sick and his sisters sent news unto Jesus letting Him know that the one who he loved was sick. Jesus responded by saying that this sickness is not unto death, but that through the sickness of their brother that God was going to glorify/honor His Son. So there is not doubt as to Jesus' heart, John writes that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Jesus waited and did not rush to the aid of those He loved....They waited, and waited, and waited...

We pick up the account again which concerns Martha and Mary in verse 17.
17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: (two miles)
19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Their brother had already been in the grave four days and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary in order to bring them comfort at their great loss. Finally Jesus came to their aid, coming to the edge of town, Martha and not Mary, went out to meet Him and said these words: "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died." She went on to express her faith and trust in her Lord, implying that now that He is here that He could make their brother (and dear friend) alive again. How did Jesus respond to that?

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus spoke to her of the resurrection to life, but Martha at this point seemed to understand in a general resurrection from the dead, but did not seem to understand the implication of Jesus' words. For He continued to speak with her...

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
He explained to Martha that because He is the resurrection and the life, death has no power over all those who believe in Him. He asks her a probing question; "Do you believe this?"

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
She replies and gives witness of her faith in Him.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
After she testified of her faith, Martha went back and called her sister Mary secretly and told Mary that the Master is now here and He is calling for you. Mary lost no time in going out to see Jesus.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
John inserts here what others who were watching thought.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
Mary said the same words that her sister had said to Jesus when she first saw Him. Jesus did not respond in the same manner to Mary that He had unto Martha, but He asked as to where the body of Lazarus was laid. And God then wept....Is He weeping because He sees the ravages of what the fall into sin has brought upon mankind, death, sorrow, weeping.?

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
Again John inserts the comments of the onlookers who were watching all this right in front of their eyes. They had just recently seen that the blind man had been given his sight and they asked the question as to whether Jesus could have prevented this man from dying?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Martha, the practical one who testified that she believes that He is the Son of God is again in the story as she protests that it is too late for her brother has been dead for four days already. Jesus reminds her of what He had earlier told her, that she was going to see the glory of God if she would believe..

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go
Then Jesus prayed to His Father, spoke for the benefit of those who were hearing so that they would know that Jesus was acting in behalf of and for the glory of His Father, and then He called Lazarus unto life from the dead.
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and having seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
John now gives this detail of how the Jews came to Mary, they had seen the things that Jesus did, and they believed on him. Why does John give this detail that they came to Mary, and Martha is not mentioned along with her? It is not clear as to why John does not mention Martha.

As often is the case with Jesus, He states the truth that He wants to teach and reveal, then He uses either a parable, an actual happening or as in this case, a miracle to illustrate a deep truth. Here in this chapter He uses real life to set the stage so that He might reveal Himself to His loved ones, Martha, Mary and Lazarus as well as others who were there. He is using this happening which culminates in the miracle of the resurrection to illustrate His death, His burial and His resurrection. He sets the stage from a distance and waits for things to develop, when Martha comes to Him in her grief He explains the teaching, when Mary comes to Him He then sets in motion the illustration of His resurrection, and before all He calls Lazarus back to life. No wonder there was a dinner being given in honor of Jesus by Martha, Mary and Lazarus.

KJV John 12:1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

The three are listed here. Martha (surprise..) is serving, Lazarus is at the table with Jesus. What was he thinking? And Mary, well, she took some very costly ointment that she had been keeping for this occasion. It is not said as to where she obtained this, but from another account it is clear that she knew why she was doing what she was doing.

Matthew 26:10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

She understood now what had been illustrated by her brother dying and being raised from the dead. She understood now that Jesus was the Messiah who had been promised and that because of His death and resurrection, the Gospel would be preached in the whole world. Her act of devotion based upon the revelation of the purpose of God through His Son would be remembered all through the ages. Note that in our text, it says that after she anointed His feet with the oil, that she wiped His feet with her hair, and as a result the whole house was filled with the odour of the ointment. She understood the nature of the kingdom of God, that it was not an earthly kingdom that Jesus had come to set up. But it was a kingdom came to bring life to the dead through the humble act of service by Jesus in that He layed down His life that all might live.
She understood that He came to serve and not to be served. She understood that God was motivated by love and compassion to send His Son to redeem us. She understood that and as a result she worshipped......She worshipped...

She put that which was very valuable to her onto his fee, used that which was her glory, her hair to wipe His feet, and the room was filled with the effect of her act of humble devotion. It is no wonder that Jesus described what she did as being the preaching of the gospel. This is certainly a time when the gospel was preached without words. For whenever the gospel is preached, whenever Christ is preached, and whereever it is grasped and believed, a perfume of grace will be present and will beckon all to receive Him.. Not only that, wherever those who have received this grace gospel are and whereever they travel, the perfume of love and grace will be present.

But not all understand....not all see....not all believe...

4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let (singular you) her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; (plural) but me ye have not always.

Jesus addresses Judas firstly, and then all those who did not understand what was going on. Judas said, as well as the disciples likewise, that this was a waste of money to pour out this ointment on Jesus and that it would have been better to sell it so that the poor could be helped. The problem with Judas was that he was a double minded person who carried the money all right, but would take money out for own use at times. Jesus points to the main thought here in that He is the Source of help to all, even to the poor in a temporal sense. He points to Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes unto the Father except by Him. (John 14:6)

God has sent His Son to us to reveal His heart of grace and truth to us, which is by Christ Jesus. He has come to find us, for we are a pearl of great price. Jesus spoke this parable: KJV Matthew 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
KJV Matthew 13:46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Conclusion and Reflection
God has given His Son so that we might be bought back to Himself, He has given us His Word which tells of His acts and doings concerning His seeking to find us so that we might be one with Him in Christ. He has given us His Spirit which speaks of and which illuminates the Spirit of Christ into our hearts by faith. As we consider the lives of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and how God chose to reveal Himself to them. we find ourselves thinking about how God has revealed Himself to us, is revealing Himself to us, and we eagerly await further revelation in the future. Revelation does not necessarily come by book learning, but it comes as a result of the heart of God being understood and received into our heart by faith. It starts early in life, for consider the experience of this young lad...

There was a young lad about 10 years old, and there was a new highway was being built by his home. There was an apple tree right next to the area in which the workmen were taking a lunch break.. The apples were growing larger and larger, but there was one apple way up in the top of the tree that the young lad was keeping an eye on. One day one of the workers asked the young lad to get him an apple. To this day the young boy remembers the joy he experienced in his heart as he climbed up to the top of the tree, plucked off his prized apple, climbed down the tree and presented to the man the most beautiful and tastiest apple of the tree. In some way, that young lad understood that inspite of how good that apple might have tasted for him to eat, it was better to give the apple to someone else. It brought joy to his heart to give his prized apple away. I believe that God gave that knowledge through the nurturing of his parents and early spiritual teachers, but ultimately it was revelation from the heart of God of what true happiness is. The gospel is seen and grasped at a very early age.

Therefore....a thought and a couple of questions for pondering.

1. He has joyfully come to serve us for our salvation? How will we respond to such love?

2. As the room was filled with the fragrance of Mary's inner devotion to Jesus and which was expressed outwardly, likewise that which we are in our lives inwardly will be expressed by our attitudes, actions and words. What kind of a fragrance is left amongst our family, our congregation, our community after we have been in their midst?

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us today and always.

Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 22 Mar 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Grace and its Effect March 14, 2010
Sermon Text: Luke 15

Matthew records in his gospel the following account of a conversation that Jesus had with his disciples as they were coming into a new area. Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
KJV Matthew 16:14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
KJV Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
KJV Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:13-16)

We read newspapers, we read magazines, we read books, we listen to sermons and lectures, we listen to talk radio and from them we are barraged with many opinions as to the answers to the same two questions that Jesus asked his disciples: First He asked: What are people saying about me? Who do they think I am? What does the latest public opinion poll say about me? Various answers were given: Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. They spoke of people who had already passed from this life.

Then He said: "Whom do you (plural) say that I am?" How would we have answered this question if we would have been there? How do we answer that question this morning? How do we really know who He is? Well, if we wanted to get to know somebody, we would communicate directly with them in person. Since Jesus is not here speaking to us in the flesh, but by His Spirit through the Word, we do the next best thing: We observe those things He said and did while He was here on earth. We have a historical and true record of some of those things before us here today.

Read Luke 15:1-32

The whole context of our text is based on a similar type situation, for in the first verse it states that Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.(Luke 15:1).
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

(Meaning: 1 The tax collectors were as a class, detested not only by the Jews, but by other nations also, both on account of their employment and of the harshness, greed, and deception, with which they did their job)

Matthew and Levi, two of the Apostles were publicans before they were chosen by Jesus
KJV Matthew 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
KJV Luke 5:27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.

One that does not hear the call to repentance in order to be restored is referred to as a publican
KJV Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

A clear definition of the two classes of people (the religious and the sinners) is given by Jesus himself in the 18th chapter of Luke through a parable He spoke to those who trusted in themselves:
Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

So Jesus took advantage of a "teachable moment" and proceeded to use four parables to teach them of who He was, for they (Pharisees and scribes) did not accept Jesus for who He was and how He conducted Himself. They were the leaders and no young revolutionary was going to tell them or show them how to worship their God. They more than murmured, they grumbled because He was receiving publicans and sinners. How could He do such a thing, and then even to eat with them? He teaches through the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the younger son and the elder son.

In all of these parables, Jesus is desiring to reach the heart on the basis of grace. He does this in the hope that our heart, that part of us which is unseen by others, is often disregarded by ourselves and from which all the emotions, attitudes and actions of life flow from would receive the grace of God and consequently, live our lives in grace. We would see the value of the lost souls of mankind and extend unto them the grace that we have received from our Father.

Jesus begins to reveal to them of the nature of His ministry and consequently of the nature of the kingdom of God. Recognizing that the Pharisees and scribes detested the publicans and the sinners, but also looked upon the occupations of a shepherd as less than noble, Jesus places Himself as a humble, seeking, committed to finding, and upon finding, joyful Shepherd who has great joy when He restores a lost sheep to sheepfold.

The Lost Sheep
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

There is one lost sheep out of a hundred and in his compassion, the Shepherd values the one so much that He goes to seek the loved, lost and lone sheep, until He finds it. When He finds it He carries it back to the sheepfold, rejoicing and when He gets homes He rejoices with His friends and neighbors. Not only that, but there was rejoicing in heaven also. To the Pharisees and the publicans, there was a prejudice against shepherds, therefore presents Himself as a shepherd.

The Lost Coin
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Jesus presents himself as a woman seeking the lost coin. The Pharisees and the scribes have wrongfully devalued women according to their interpretation of the Scriptures, therefore Jesus placed this parable before them, portraying Himself as a seeking, loving and committed woman. There is the diligent seeking, the coin is found and again there is rejoicing not only by Him, among His friends and neighbors, but also among the angels in heaven over this found one.

Leaving the the metaphorical language, Jesus now presents to the audience two sons, a younger son and an elder son.

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

The younger son, after he asked of that which was his,( In the culture of the day, to ask for your inheritance while your father yet lived was tantamount to wishing your father was dead,) left home with his inheritance, wasted it all, and ended up starving in the pigpen. He came to himself, remembering his Father's house, and decided to return to His Father's house as a hired servant. On the surface that sounds good, but was he understanding the grace of God? Or was he in some way trying to "earn" his way back to the good graces of his Father. Let us consider this important aspect of what Jesus was trying to teach those who were and are listening. We probably have the most difficult time grasping the concept that God has already made atonement for our sin and there is no payment that needs to be made to Him other than to accept the free and gracious gift. We can go all the way back to the first book of the Bible to see how this already was a problem then. For we read of how Joseph's brothers had the same thought that the younger son did. Let us read that portion:

Genesis 50:14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
15 And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

The brothers had gone with the family to bury their father, and now with their father gone they began to think of how they were going to have "to pay" for their cruel treatment of Joseph. First they sent a messenger to their brother, who took to Joseph the command of their father, that Joseph "had" to forgive his brothers.

What kind of forgiveness is that? No wonder Joseph wept at these words that made forgiveness to be done simply as a requirement and not as a result of the graciousness of God. We act in the same manner as Joesph's brothers when we demand forgiveness of our children to the one they have offended. We make forgiveness a requirement when we force someone to ask forgiveness. Joseph's brothers did not understand the love that Joseph had for them in that he did not even remember the negative aspects of his brothers treatment toward him, but he looked upon them in the grace of forgiveness. He could do this because he knew that God looked upon him in the grace of forgiveness, and therefore since God received him in the grace of forgiveness, he could only look upon his brothers with the same forgiveness.

The prodigal did not understand as of yet of the total acceptance that His Father had toward him. We yet have the most difficulty grasping that God does not see into our past as His children. We have difficulty realizing that He sees only one thing: Have we received this gift of grace by faith? Are we believing in the Jesus that has made complete atonement for all sin? Are we living in the gospel of forgiveness? Are we free from the guilt, the shame and the recriminations of our past?

Jesus refers to the importance of coming to realize that we are a friend and not a servant, for the servant is still outside of the house. If we are still outside the house trying to earn our way in, we have not yet "come home."
KJV John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
KJV John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
KJV John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Jesus then presents a fourth parable, showing that one can be in the house, can have the full benefits of Sonship, but not as of yet come to truly live in that experience and knowledge. He speaks concerning the elder son.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

How did he react to the news of his brothers return? He became angry at this news and his father responded with a gracious invite. Then he criticized his father in not recognizing his (elder son's) faithfulness, sinlessness and instead blamed his father for not appreciating all his service toward his father. Then the elder son accused his father of being unfair in his treatment for celebrating the return of "his sinful son" and had never done such for him.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

To these sorrowful statements, the father again responded to the elder son through grace.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

He said you are my Son, you are always with me and all that I have is yours to enjoy. But your way of looking at the restoration of your brother is lacking, for this your brother was dead and now is alive again. He is my son, and he is your brother. He was lost and is found. I am rejoicing, our family is rejoicing, heaven is rejoicing, everyone is rejoicing except you.

Here is a quote from a writer for Ravi Zacharias Ministries:
"We are easily broken over the pain and suffering we see around us, and well we should. But what a day of rejoicing it is when our hearts are broken by the sweet bitterness of seeing our own sinfulness against the blinding purity of the Son of God; when our fists begin to loosen our grip on the stones we would self-righteously cast at others, and when we finally approach God, not as his advisors, but as sinners in need of mercy and forgiveness! When the intent is right and the mirror is the word of God in its historical context, the revelation that true beauty lies in Christ alone will only drive us ever closer to the restoration of our own beauty in Him. Such an encounter with our Creator is not to be found amidst the cacophony of noises within the factory of dedicated god-crafters; it is best seen when nothing obscures our view of the Cross."

God's grace is like this: He does not remember our sins when we talk about them to him even though they may come back into our mind and we may feel the accusations of the Accuser, the devil. Jesus has bore them away on the cross and they are to never be remembered again by us. He never brings them back to us again. We at times are attacked and accused by the devil in our mind and at times are tormented by our sinful thoughts, emotions and acts of the past and yes, even present ones. When we fall to that trap, we are like the younger son who returned to the father's house initially like a slave and not as a son. He did not understand grace until he saw his father running to him with open arms, possibly shouting, my son, my son, I have been watching and waiting for you to return to me. He kissed and kissed him, and so forth. All this was not understood by the elder son, who reacted in a angry, critical and blaming manner.

A couple of days ago I spoke disrectfully to my wife, hurt her and I understood that. Seeing the hurt, I asked forgiveness but she had already forgiven me, but the hurt remained. A day later as we were talking, I mentioned the incident again and I asked her with a somewhat assuming manner, "You are not going to hold that against me, are you? (I was not valuing the grace of forgiveness in her heart and I was also falling victim to the idea that I had to do something to pay for my sin. She replied to my question as to whether she would hold it against me with, "What are you talking about?" That is how grace works, my dear brothers and sisters.

When Joseph's brothers came to somehow "pay", Joseph wept.

When Jesus looked out over Jerusalem at those who would not believe that His grace was upon them and for them, He wept.

When the Prodigal wanted to "pay"his way back to the Father's house, the Father went out to get Him and showed Him grace.

When the elder son did not respond with grace toward his Father and his brother, the Father responded in grace.

When we mistakenly think that we must pay to get in, God says, what debt are you talking about? I do not even know what you are talking about. Come on in and enjoy everything that is mine, My Son. You are all paid up...My Son did the paying, Believe it to my glory, my honor, my rejoicing in you, and to the peace and joy of your soul. In Jesus Name, Amen.

May the humble, seeking and joyful grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be experienced by you today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 14 Mar 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Fragance of Love 3/21/10
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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