October 18 Reflections

Barring any allergies most flowers smell good. They give off a pleasant gentle fragrance. But there is one flower that does not. It is called titan arum. Its nickname is the corpse flower. In other words, it smells like a decaying, rotting corpse. A beautiful flower to the eye, is putrid to the sense of smell.

It does make me think of Jesus when he said, “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but, on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)   

Jesus called imperfect, sinners to come and follow him, not the self-righteous. As he did in the passage for this week. Jesus called Matthew, to come and follow him. (Mark 2:14) Matthew was a tax collector; considered a notorious sinner by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Jesus went and had dinner at his house. This was scandalous because it was a sign of friendship. Jesus was a friend of sinners; people who had lost their way but had open hearts to love beyond measure. Self-righteous people stink, they are putrid. All pretty on the outside, but inside rotting corpses, not desiring the love of Jesus; do not need him they think. All the while stinking.

Contrast that to Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus), the one who anointed Jesus with a very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. (Mark 14) She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. The beautiful experience  of this is that the fragrance of the perfume would have filled the room. Following the self-righteous complaints and rebukes of a few, Jesus responded, “Leave her alone (honest direct language)…she has done a beautiful thing…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.” (Mark 14:6-9) Mary’s life had been transformed by the love of Jesus. She was deeply devoted to him and offered this act as a demonstration of her love for him. Self-righteousness stinks, those who out of their need open themselves to the love of Jesus bring an aroma that is life giving.  When your identity is that you are loved by Jesus, (I Am Loved by Jesus) you will want to follow him; loving like he did and does. We are going to think about this on Sunday as we consider: “I Am a Follower of Jesus.” Some passages to read: Mark2:13-17;  1 Corinthians 1:26-31;   Acts 4: 8-13.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn