The essence of faith- to know and love God (John 12:1-8, Hosea 6:6)

The Life of a Disciple sermon series began last week. A disciple of Jesus is one who denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows Jesus. I shared with you last week that a disciple of Jesus is required to go up to the Garden of Gethsemane as He did, the garden of self-denial, and pray in order to bear the cross. Did you go up to the garden of self-denial every day for the past week?

Today, in the second part of the disciple’s life series, let’s take a look at the essence of faith.

Luk 14:26 Whoever comes to me cannot be my disciple unless he hates his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life.

Jesus made it clear that in order to be a disciple of Jesus, you must love Jesus first and foremost above anyone else.

He says that without loving Him as your highest priority, you would never be a disciple of Jesus. Therefore, the disciple must know God and love God, this is the essence of faith.

Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Little Caesars are the world’s three largest pizza companies. Each of these three companies has a unique sales strategy, with Pizza Hut offering a variety of menus, Domino’s offering “faster delivery,” and Little Caesars offering a “cheap price.” But a company called ‘Papa John’s’ was once a sensation. Papa John’s had many pizza lovers, but do you know the secret to their success? The secret to Papa John’s success was the taste, the essence of pizza. The essence of pizza is taste. Good ingredients and the best taste are enough. What is the essence of a life of faith?

What is the most important thing in a life of faith? The Lord tells us in Hosea 6:6.

Hos 6:6  For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

God does not want sacrifices or burnt offerings, He wants us to know and love Him. Jesus also said that the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

To know God, as the Bible says, is to personally experience and know God, who is also a person. Eternal life is to know God and Jesus.

Through the prophet Hosea, God is proclaiming to the Israelites that what God wants most is not a ceremony, but to love God and know Him. In other words, it is an intimate fellowship with God.

A disciple of Jesus is one who knows and loves Jesus more than anything else. 

Do you know and love Jesus?

If you look at the text of John 12, about a week before Jesus died on the cross, there was a feast for Him at the house of his brother Lazarus, who died and was revived. While Martha was serving, and Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead, was eating with Jesus at table, Mary took a pound of ointment of very costly pure nard, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped His feet with her hair.  Because of that, the whole house was filled with the smell of perfumed oil. In those days, 300 denarii of raw nard was very expensive, equivalent to around 400,000 to 600,000 rubles – a year’s wages for a laborer.

Judas Iscariot said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’

However, Jesus praised Mary’s action, saying that she kept it for use on the day of Jesus’ burial.

Would you be able to pour 600,000 rubles worth of perfumed oil on Jesus all at once? Does that make sense? Or is there anyone who, like Judas, thinks that it would be more beneficial if the money were distributed to the poor?

How could Mary pour out such precious things to the Lord?

How could Mary pour out all that she had, all her costly ointment?

Because she knew who Jesus was. The Lord spoke when he raised her brother Lazarus. John 11:25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

Joh 11:26  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Joh 11:27  She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Who does Mary believe she is pouring her ointment onto? She poured it onto Jesus, who she believes is God and is the Messiah.

What would we regret if we offered to the Almighty God?

Judas Iscariot did not believe that Jesus was God, so it seemed a waste to offer the precious ointment. The fact that Judas regretted pouring out Mary’s perfume is a sign that Judas did not believe in Jesus as God and as the Messiah. If you confess that Jesus is God, what would you regret giving to Almighty God?

Those of you who still don’t think seriously about missing Sunday worship service, look at yourself to see if you’ve really met Jesus as God. The heart to worship the God who died and resurrected, who gave his life for me, to honor the set time to worship is a heart given by the Holy Spirit.

Those who have truly met and confessed Jesus as the Messiah and God will never think that Sunday worship service is trivial or wasteful.

Like Mary, those who have met Jesus have a heart to give the most precious things to Jesus. That is the heart that wants to worship God.

Through Mary’s action here, we can see the essence of the life of faith. Mary was able to generously pour out her precious ointment because of her deep love and gratitude for Jesus to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. This is what we see as a worshiper who pours himself unreservedly because he loves the Lord. Originally, there is a Greek word for worship called proscuneo, which means “to fall down on your knees and touch your forehead to the ground. It means “to kiss”. Mary’s look can be seen as a worshiper giving the most precious thing towards Jesus.

Because Mary knew Jesus as her God and Messiah, she was willing to give her most precious thing to the Lord. As much as we know God, we love God.

In this way, the more we know Jesus, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, the more we can love and fear Him.

Therefore, what we must do to love God is to know the Almighty God more. So how can we get to know God?

In order to know and love God, you must first

We need a passion to know God. Hosea 6 speaks about the nature of our faith and exhorts us like this. “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”” (Hosea 6:3). Here, the phrase “let’s press on to know the Lord” means “let’s run with zeal to know the Lord.” That’s right. Now we must run with zeal to know the Lord. We must not give up and must go to the Lord with untiring hunger and zeal. We must seek the Lord with all our heart. That’s what we need to do.

In this regard, Proverbs 2:4-5 says. “Pro 2:4  if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, Pro 2:5  then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

“It” here refers to Jesus, the wisdom of God. So this verse says that if we seek Jesus as if we were seeking hidden treasures, we would come to know God.

What would you do if you discovered that there was a huge treasure hidden in your house left there by your ancestors? We would probably search all over the house for it. All our attention and nerves will be focused on that treasure until we find it. Maybe even secretly working at night for fear of being noticed by others. The Bible says to seek the Lord with this attitude.

  Listen to Paul’s confession. He said he only wanted to know the cross.

In 1 Corinthians 2:2, “1Co 2:2  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

 Php 3:7  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Php 3:8  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Php 3:9  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Php 3:10  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

Even after experiencing every spiritual experience, Paul’s consistent desire and goal was to know the Lord more. Not only that, but he said that he counted everything as rubbish in comparison to knowing the Lord better. He said this because he knew that the knowledge of the Lord is incomparably more precious than anything in this world.

  Therefore, dear saints, I hope you make it your only purpose and goal to know our Lord more and to love Him more. 

The Lord will draw near to you as He has promised, “Draw close to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Second, if you want to know God, you must rely on the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Knowing the Lord is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit.

So the apostle Paul is praying for the Ephesian church like this. “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know God”(Eph 1:15). This prayer is not a prayer for unbelievers, it is a prayer for Ephesian Christians. It is a prayer asking the saints to know God more, and being able to God is how the Holy Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and revelation works. Therefore, when we humbly rely on the Holy Spirit and pray to know God, if the Holy Spirit reveals God and shines light on us, we will come to know God more personally.

Third, in order to know God, we must be close to the Word of God.

In today’s passage, how did Mary come to know that Jesus was God? Of course, she could have believed that Jesus was God even after seeing her raise her own brother Lazarus from the dead. But it seemed that it was through the words of Jesus that Mary came to know him. When Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from death, the Lord said this to her. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  Through the words of Jesus, Mary believed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. To know God is not to know Him only intellectually, but to know Him personally and experientially. When the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, works through the Word of God, we learn the meaning of God’s will and come to know God more and more. Therefore, keep close to the Word of God every day. And whenever you draw close to the Word, humbly rely on the Holy Spirit. At that time, the word you approach will become the word of the living rhema, food for your soul, and the word that makes your faith grow. And like this, the words will reveal God! I hope that you will all actively participate in the Life Study  class of “Little Jesus” that will begin next week and know God more deeply through the Word.

Joh 12:3  Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Saints, imagine. Expensive ointment, not just a single drop of pure nard but the entire jar, was poured at Jesus’ feet. At that time, the smell of fragrant oil filled the whole house.

Even a few drops of fragrant oil could have changed the atmosphere with a beautiful fragrance, but I hope you can imagine how the smell of fragrant oil must have filled the house since Mary broke so much fragrant oil and poured it on the Lord.

This perfume is Jesus. Until my arrogant ego is broken, Jesus in me will not be revealed as a fragrance.

Since there were many people in Lazarus’s house, the smell of sweat, musty, and food must have filled the whole house. However, when the fragrant oil was poured, the fragrant scent would have spread throughout the house, and all musty smells would have disappeared as the fragrant smell filled the whole house.

That’s right. When our stubbornness is broken, pride is broken, and disobedience is broken, and when we humble ourselves before the Lord and change to a posture of humility, the fragrance of Jesus will appear and remove all the powers of darkness covering us. When I die and Jesus in me appears as a fragrance, all human smells will disappear. The scents of greed, pride, hatred, and anger will disappear and the scents of Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and healing will abound in my life and around me. I pray that our family and our church will be filled only with the Lord’s beautiful fragrance of humility and love.

There was a rich man in England called Carey. He had two sons, George and William, who were intelligent from a young age and studied hard to attend the prestigious Oxford University. His father had high expectations of his two sons. As expected, the eldest son became a member of the National Assembly, and he made a lot of money because he had a business plan. This is what is called social success. However, the second son, who had a promising future, suddenly abandoned everything and moved to India as a missionary. Everyone was shocked and strongly discouraged him. Why would you become a missionary? Why do you want to live your whole life among savages and barbarians, leaving guaranteed success behind! Everyone tried, but no one could stop him. No one could break his thoughts. In the end, he went out as a missionary alone with no one to see him off. This is how William Carey, the ‘Father of Modern Missions’, left for the mission field. However, years passed and both of them died, and the names of the two were recorded in the Encyclopedia of Great Britain. William Carey was recorded on a whopping one and a half pages, but his older brother George was referred to as ‘William Carey’s older brother’. There was nothing written there about him.

This gives us a very important lesson. It shows us what true success is. It is true that the person who chooses the essence is the true success, even though it can seem shabby, stupid, and like a failure. On the other hand, if you get out of the essence, it appears to be a success, but is in reality a failed life. In this world, if books made by people with worldly values are evaluated in this way, it goes without saying in heaven. If the essence of anything is right, other things will also be right. This is the way the church and believers live.

Dear beloved believers, the essence of our faith is to know God and to love God. A disciple is someone who loves Jesus more than anyone else. May you love the Lord like Mary, who knew that Jesus was God and broke her jar of perfumed oil. As Paul did, continue to seek to know God with all your heart.

I bless you all in the name of the Lord that you will all have the grace to know God and live the life of a disciple who loves God.

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