John 10: 4-5: And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
Over the 16 years that my husband and I have been married, I would estimate that we have spoken millions of words to each other. Some have been informational, some have been directional, some have been purposed to probe the heart, and some have been revelatory. But every word, for better or worse, has been part of the picture of our marriage. Some of the nitpicking and critical words I wish I could take back. Other words, like words of encouragement and praise, I am trying to say more often. But each and every word has been a brush stroke on the canvas of the marriage we now have.
This is true for every relationship. Our words are powerful and have the ability to create or tear down, offer peace or instill fear, give hope and direction or confuse and distract.
The power of words originated with God. God created everything seen and unseen with words. He could have used thoughts or He could have used His hands. But He chose to speak everything into being.
And God still speaks. He hasn’t changed over time, as many falsely teach. He upholds the words He has already spoken and He speaks new fresh things to his children. He tells us in John 10:4-5 that his sheep hear his voice and the voice of another they will not listen to or follow.
In John Chapter 12, there is a story about how six days before Passover, Jesus went to the home of his three friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, for a meal. This story perfectly depicts the roles that these three siblings have adopted with Jesus. They each have a certain relationship with Jesus and their relationship is flavored by their unique personalities and approach to the Master.
John relates that Martha was serving and Lazarus was reclining with Jesus. These were usual roles for men and women in those days. And they were usual roles for both Martha and Lazarus. Earlier in the book of John, we saw Martha racing around serving food to a houseful of people, frustrated with her sister who was seemingly not helping her enough. And we saw that Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus by the way Jesus wept before he raised him from the dead.
So Martha is serving and Lazarus is chatting, but Mary is doing something different. She is doing something that no one has ever seen before. Mary takes a pint of pure nard – an expensive perfume worth a year’s wages – and poures it on Jesus’ feet and then wipes his feet with her hair.
Immediately, Judas Iscariot, whom we know betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, speaks up in protest that the perfume was wasted on Jesus. He says that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. This was a man whose hand was always in the till so that’s why he would have wanted to see the perfume sold.
But back to Mary – why did she do such a thing? What prompted her to take expensive perfume and offer it to Jesus along with the humble act of washing his feet with her hair? I think she did it because she had developed a habit – a lifestyle really – of worship and devotion. The only way that she could offer such an extravagant gift is because she had an extravagant love for the Lord. This was a love she had cultivated. It didn’t come overnight. She put herself in the position of allowing herself to be overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus so that she could be an extravagant worshiper.
Three years ago, my husband and I enjoyed our favorite vacation to date in Turks and Caicos. It truly was the tropical paradise that we had longed for. We scuba-dived on the most amazing coral reef, ate delicious food, and read books all day. Our toughest decision was whether to read by the pool or on the beach. The flora and the fauna were spectacular and the island experiences and natives were just amazing!
My husband jokes, though, that it’s almost not worth taking me on vacation because of what I call “Post-Party Depression”. It starts the day BEFORE we leave – a real treat for my man – as I begin mourning the end of the vacation and the return to our responsibilities. The fact of the matter is that I want to LIVE on vacation – 24/7, every day. My husband has a different view. He believes that it’s the routine and the challenges of our responsibilities that make vacation so much sweeter. I have to admit he’s right – but it doesn’t make me any happier as I pack my bathing suit back into the suitcase!