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How Will We Be Remembered?

How Will We Be Remembered?

Memorial Day is a holiday to remember our deceased, especially our soldiers who gave their lives defending our country.  Family graves are decorated with flowers. Soldier’s graves are marked with an American flag. It is a solemn occasion—a day of remembrance and reflection. Many people will celebrate without contemplating questions like: Where are they now—enjoying Heaven or agonizing in Hell? Am I prepared to die? How will I be remembered?

For Christians, every Sunday is a Memorial Day. Unlike Baptism, which is a one-time event, The Lord’s Supper is a memorial that is meant to be observed over and over throughout the life of a Christian. We contemplate it’s meaning every week. It is a memorial of Jesus Christ and a holy time of communion and worship.

1 Corinthians 11:24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

By observing Communion, we take time to remember Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus said there would be other people we would always remember, too, not because they were on the battlefield, not because they were crucified, but because they did what they could.

In Mark 14:1-11, we find such a person.  Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. "But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot." While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly. "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Although the disciples underestimated and under-appreciated Mary’s act, Jesus was so touched by her act of devotion, that He says in verse 9, “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

What was it that she did that impressed Jesus so much? The answer upon which we want to center our thoughts is in verse 8, "She did what she could".

Sometimes we have a limited conception of what really constitutes Christian service. We often think it means being a preacher, a Sunday school teacher, an elder, a missionary, and so on; but does Christian service only consist of these?

No! We are all saved to serve Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If we believe in Jesus, we cannot measure our life by the world’s concept of success. It is not what we gain in this world that measures success, but only by what God pours through us, and we cannot measure that at all.

When Mary of Bethany broke the container of precious ointment and poured it on Jesus’ head, it was an act for which no one else saw any importance. The disciples said it was a waste. But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion. Our Lord is filled with joy when He sees any of us doing what Mary did, not being concerned with the cost, but being abandoned to Him.

Our Father was so extravagant in His love for us, He spilled the life of His Son so the world might be saved. Are we willing to spill out our lives for Him?

This passage teaches us that anything done or directed towards Jesus, under the impulse of simple love for Him, is Christian service. The qualifying word in our definition of Christian service is doing it for Jesus, out of love for Him, and in order to bring glory for Him.

Think about Jesus in what you do and you will be doing a Christian service. Do anything, because you love Him, and it will be lifted up, and become transfigured into “a good work.” All things are sanctified when they are done for Him.

The opposite is also true. Nothing, which is not done out of love for Jesus, deserves the title of “a good work.” We need to do everything as for Jesus, because that is what hallows the action and makes it Christian service. All of us can serve when we do what we do as for the Lord.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

How much are we to do for Him? All our Lord expects is that we do what lies in our power. This is the meaning of our Lord’s words in verse 8, "She did what she could," no more, no less.

Quit looking to see what everyone else is doing and just start doing what you can do. Your best is good enough no matter how much it is. God is not going to judge your service by what others have done, but He will judge your service as to whether you have done all you could do.

Read Matt 25:14-30

It does not take a whole lot for God to be satisfied in our service, but it does take our best. God does not want what we CANNOT DO, but what we CAN DO.  The widow with 2 pennies gave all she had. Jesus said she gave more than the rest.
 “She did what she could.” The question is not how much we have done, but could we have done more?

How can we do more, you wonder? Are we working in the power of our flesh or in the power of the Holy Spirit?  We can do more in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It takes the Holy Spirit in a person’s body to make them what Jesus Christ wants them to be. If we cannot exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) while doing menial things for the love of Jesus, we are not doing all we can!

It is time to stop craving for personal satisfaction, and to spill the life of Christ out of our souls for the benefit of others. The Lord asks His followers to do this for Him.

Matt 28:18-20   Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Doing what you can will involve a sacrifice. This ointment amounted to Mary’s life savings. This was a gift of great sacrifice for her. Our service for Christ is easily assessed by the sacrifices we are willing to make.

Doing what you can will bring criticism. Mary received criticism not about the act itself, but the disciples felt the oil should have been sold, and the money given to the poor. There will always be someone who will question any true sacrifice we make for the Lord.

However, what really matters about our life is what Jesus thinks and not what others think! If we please Jesus, it does not matter who we displease. If we displease Jesus, it does not matter who we please!

What was Mary’s motive? Why did she worship the Lord in this way and express her appreciation of Him in such loving service? Did she do it to get prominence, to be seen of others, to gain the Lord’s praise? No, she did it simply out of love for Him.

If human love is always discreet and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not true love. The characteristic of love is that it is spontaneous, it bursts up in extraordinary ways; it is never premeditated. The reason Jesus called Mary’s act “a good work” was because it came out of spontaneous love for Him. It was neither useful nor her duty; it was an extravagant act for which no one else saw any purpose. “"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

Prior to the act, Mary did not know that she was anointing the body of Jesus for His burial. That was not her motive.  Her heart was bursting with love for Jesus, and she took this opportunity of giving it expression. Love is preference for another person, and if I am a follower of Jesus, that preference is for Him. He takes our sacrifice for Him and uses it as a blessing in His Kingdom. The cost of following Jesus doesn’t matter if we love Him!  

After being away on business, Tim thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift. "How about some perfume?" he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $50. "That’s a bit much," said Tim. So the clerk presented him with a smaller bottle for $30.00. "That’s still quite a bit," Tim complained. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle. "What I mean," said Tim, "is I’d like to see something really cheap." The clerk handed him a mirror.

What is your love for Christ like? Is it like Mary’s love or are we like Tim when we give to the Lord and do things for Him?

What Mary did reveals a heart that is filled, moved, and driven with nothing but a love for her Master, Jesus Christ.

Her act was expressive.  Without hesitation or reservation she expressed her love.

Her act was exclusive. She was solely and completely occupied with Jesus. She did not care what others thought.

Her act was extravagant. It was an extravagant and foolish act in the eyes of those who watched; however, love does extravagant things.

These Scriptures in Mark 14 show us that the focus of our thoughts reveals the desire of our hearts. During the week before Jesus was crucified, the chief priests and scribes were focused on an excuse to arrest and kill Jesus (v.1). Judas was focused on a convenient way to betray Jesus (v.11). Mary of Bethany was focused on a way to show her love to the Lord. They all found the opportunities they were seeking to achieve their focus. All of them are remembered for what they focused on.

In verse 9 we are told a very wonderful thing. Our Lord declared that Mary’s loving act would never be forgotten; it would abide. Mary’s simple act of service, done for Jesus’ sake, would never be lost. Heaven and earth would pass away, but the record of what Mary had done, the pleasure it brought to the Lord, and the blessing that it would bring to millions of others, would never pass away.

Because in the anointing, our Lord saw an exact illustration of what He Himself was about to do. He put Mary’s act alongside His own Cross. God poured out the life of His own Son to save the world; Mary poured out her life’s savings on the Lord; are we willing to pour out our lives for Him?

This memorial tells us that every act done out of love for the Lord Jesus abides forever. Mary of Bethany probably never guessed that she would be remembered for an act initially criticized as wasteful and inappropriate.

Therefore, Mary was and is remembered for what she did for Christ! As I consider this text, as I consider Memorial Day and think about the selfless sacrifice others made, I have to ask myself: How will I be remembered?

We will either be remembered for the good we’ve done or the bad. Some will not be remembered at all, because they did nothing at all! "She did what she could." Could the Lord make this statement of me or you?

Do what you can, out of love for Jesus Christ, to serve Him. It is the only thing that will last eternally.