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.

Mark 14:8-10

There is many a valuable spiritual lesson to be learned from the juxtaposition of separate, seemingly unrelated events in Scripture.

Jesus had just been ‘anointed for his burial’ by a poor, insignificant, extremely grateful woman who had ‘wasted’ more than a year’s wages on the perfume and, in response to the criticism the more ‘respectable’ bystanders had levelled at her, Jesus had predicted that she would be remembered for countless generations to come!  Here WE are, 2,000 years later, reading, and being moved by, her story of self-giving love and devotion to the Lord.

By contrast, Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve hand-picked men Jesus had chosen to train and equip for responsible leadership in his Kingdom.  Judas’ name occurs more than 30 times in the New Testament, and NEVER WITHOUT this being in the context of his BETRAYAL of his Master!

How do WE want to be remembered?  Simply as someone who, though NAMELESS, lived a life of sacrificial love in the service of the Saviour, or as someone who, though known BY NAME, put SELF-interest above faithful discipleship?

I have written to you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:15-16 

We gain an interesting, but important, insight from these verses into the way Paul understood his ‘ministry’.

The three spiritual ‘offices’ into which people were appointed and anointed in the OT were the ‘priest’, whose function it was to bring the people to God through the sacrificial system, the ‘prophet’ who was entrusted to bring God to the people through their inspired word, and the ‘king’ who was to serve as God’s representative among the people.

Paul obviously saw his commission to share the Good News of Jesus with the Gentiles as a ‘priestly’ function because as they responded to the Gospel in repentance-and-faith, they were being brought into an eternal relationship with him, a kind of priestly ‘offering’, ‘acceptable to God’.  This echoes his earlier statement to them: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” (12:1).

Do we look on the different opportunities God gives us to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with our family, friends, neighbours, and ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), as the fulfilling of a ‘priestly’ function?  After all, the Apostle Peter refers to all of us, inter alia, as a ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:9)!  The 16th Century Reformers called this ‘the priesthood of ALL believers’, in contrast with the wrong practice that, sadly, had developed in the Church of limiting the work of ‘priesthood’ to only a select few!

Every time there is “more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7) it is because someone has been brought out of ‘darkness’ into the eternal ‘light’ of their Creator’s presence, and perhaps God the Holy Spirit, the ‘Sanctifier’ (‘saint-maker’) has used even US in some small way to bring this about!

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’”

Genesis 48:3-4 

What an incredible amount of international tension has been created over the last 2,000 years as a result of Israel’s failure to recognise Jesus as their Promised Messiah when he came among them!

The NT makes it very clear that all God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants, were fulfilled in Jesus, and the ‘everlasting’ and ‘forever’ descriptors of these promises were intended to have an ‘eternal’, ‘spiritual’ application in HIM.  For instance, HE is the descendant of David who would rule as God’s King FOREVER, not on earth, but from Heaven, where he now sits at God’s Right Hand!  Likewise, the Author of Hebrews refers to the fact that “here (ie ‘on earth’) we do NOT HAVE an ENDURING city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14) and that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob “were looking forward to the [eternal] city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

The Apostle Paul points out that the TRUE ‘seed’ of Abraham, who was to inherit the promises, was Jesus himself (Galatians 3:16). Jesus made it clear, through Peter his Apostle, that the new ‘Temple’ he was building is US, his Church, and NOT a PHYSICAL structure in Jerusalem in Palestine (1 Peter 2:5 – cf John 2:19-21).

Sadly, while ever the nation of Israel fails to recognise these truths, there can never be peace in the land of Palestine, and the ‘occupation’ dispute will be with us until Jesus Returns.  Let us pray earnestly that Jewish people scattered throughout the world, as well as in Palestine/Israel, will come to KNOW Jesus (‘Jeshua’) as ‘Moshiach’, their ‘Messiah’, and will put their trust in him as their Saviour and bow before him as their Lord (and LORD, ie their Yahweh/Jehovah!).

“Glorious things of you are spoken, Zion, City of our God; He whose Word cannot be broken formed you for his own abode; on the Rock of Ages founded, what can shake your sure repose? … … Saviour, if of Zion’s City I, THROUGH GRACE, a member am, let the world deride and pity, I will glory in your Name; fading is the worldling’s pleasure, all his boasted pomp and show – SOLID joys and LASTING treasure none but Zion’s children know.” (John Newton).