TODAY’S READING: Matthew 26; Mark 14
Jesus more than anticipated that the Gospel would be preached in the whole world (Matt. 26:13). He authorized it. And He authorized that our attention (all of us from all peoples) be directed on spending extravagantly on Him, for He is more precious than service to the poor. We know from Jesus’ life and teaching that to love the poor is a reflection of God, but we also take warning that loving the poor (physically or spiritually) is not more important than loving the Lord. Before we pour ourselves out for the world, we must pour ourselves out extravagantly at Jesus’ feet, we must “waste” ourselves on Him (v. 8). This is the key to the missionary assignment and the way the fragrance of Jesus wafts to every corner of the globe and penetrates the dying stench of every unreached people: by the people of God lavishing attention on Him. This is abiding. This is our first call. This is our joy and the source of our power on earth and our gladness in heaven—the extravagant luxury of extending time with Jesus.
In this first love we all betray Jesus, and the true answer to who betrays is all of us (Mark 14:19). None of us pour on Jesus the affection, obedience, and adoration He alone deserves. None of us break our alabaster box consistently; we are more into sprinkling than immersion when it comes to our daily abandon. The beauty of Jesus is that knowing this, He yet abides with us, yet sheds His precious blood for many for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:28). Oh, how much Jesus lavishes on us for the meager love we begrudgingly give Him. Oh, how foolish our protests of fidelity are to the divine ears and all-knowing heart. We all betray, over and again, yet He ever lives and forgives. We speak vehemently (Mark 14:31); Jesus loves violently, and not just us, but the billions of betrayers around us. How great a Lover who would die for so many serially treacherous lovers.
The fate of the nations is somehow linked mysteriously to prayer, but we can’t endure in prayer, even in the most desperate and urgent times as we should (Matt. 26:40). The fate of the nations depends on us representing Jesus well, but we make messes that He has to clean up (Mark 14:47). The fate of nations depends on us standing with Jesus in bold and holy witness, but at all the crucial moments the church forsakes Him and flees (Mark 14:50), naked and ridiculous (v. 52), and our speech betrays that we are of Jesus, but not necessarily with Him (v. 71). When we think how much God has entrusted to us, the intimacy and the responsibility, and how we have betrayed Him, we too must weep bitterly (Matt. 26:75).
The gospel must be preached in all the world by weepers. There is no place for arrogance as we traverse the nations pleading with all peoples to waste themselves on Jesus. We who have been lavished on so extravagantly have betrayed that love so consistently; thus, the cross is to us as much a wonder on our repeated visits as it is to those who stand there astonished for the first time. We weep with them. Our old tears mingling with their new ones, astounded, amazed, and atoned. I cannot stand at the cross weeping with the freshly forgiven without marveling that Jesus has again forgiven foolish, unfaithful me.