Thank you God
Reading: John 12:1-8
Additional reading: Luke 10:38-42, Luke 7:36-50
Hymns: 276, 369, 322
Have you heard this?
“Count your blessings.
Count your many blessings.”
What does it mean?
Why is it important?
It is one thing to have many blessings in one’s life.
It is totally another thing to be grateful for all that.
That is what John Templeton was aware of.
Have you heard about John Templeton?
He knew that his gift was to make a lot of money.
Then he gave away more than $1 billion.
He used his gift to help many people.
When someone asked Sir John Templeton what the secret of his success was, he said gratitude.
This is an attitude toward life.
People have learned that this is important.
But sometimes, it does not come naturally.
If it does not come naturally, we need to put more effort in giving thanks to God continually.
So some people intentionally set aside a specific time for giving thanks regularly.
They learn that this is important for their lives.
And many blessings belong to those who appreciate what they have.
As we are able to be thankful for blessings that we have, we may also enjoy them in the presence of God.
There is so much to be thankful for.
God loves us.
We are here in this God’s world.
We have those who love us and pray for us.
When we seek it, we find it.
But being thankful for the right thing is also important.
So, one time, Jesus asked his students to be grateful for the fact that their name is written in the book of life in heaven.
It was right after they performed miracles in Jesus name.
They were very happy for that.
They felt great.
But then Jesus guided them to be thankful for the right thing.
Jesus asked them to be thankful that their name is written on the book of life instead.
You see, Jesus wanted them to be thankful for the right thing.
When we have accomplished so much for God, in God’s power, Jesus asks us that we give thanks for the fact that our name is written in the book of life.
Jesus asks this because when we are thankful for the right thing, we have a right relationship with God.
Then we may continually live in the right way.
We honor God in the right way.
Then we gain a good understanding.
Then God will be even happier for us.
Now, I am gonna tell you some collection stories. (Luke 10:38-42)
In these stories, Jesus was very grateful for someone.
After Jesus started his ministry, Jesus came to the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
They were siblings.
Jesus loved to teach them and guide them into a new spiritual life.
So Mary sat quietly and listened to him.
She was hungry for more.
Mary wanted to understand more.
What Jesus taught gave her a new hope, new faith, and new ideas. (John 6: 52-59)
Jesus helped her understand her life.
And she was prepared for her new future.
The words of Jesus sank into her deeper part of heart and gave a deep inner peace.
She knew that she was in the presence of God.
And Jesus was the bread of life from God!
So she rested before God, in trust and quietness. (Isaiah 30:15)
Then she started to think like a child of God.
Then she understood.
She understood that God was about to give the Son of God away to save the whole world.
That was shocking.
But she understood that this was God’s crazy love for all people.
While this transformation was happening, Martha, the sister of Mary was preparing a dinner for Jesus and his people.
When a special guest came, she liked to cook.
She liked to give an act of service.
But today, it was strange.
For some reason, Martha couldn’t focus.
Her mind was all over the places.
Martha was like:
“Why don’t I have more potatoes? Ugh!
Where do I put my special spices? Ugh!
Wait a minute.
Do I have enough vegetables? Ugh!
What was I cooking again? Ugh!
What is going on here?”
She felt a little confused.
But normally she was not like this.
But at this time, she was anxious and frustrated.
She also had a very strange tensions in her body.
She wondered why she felt like this.
Maybe she also wanted to listen to Jesus that day.
She wanted to grow spiritually.
Her inner soul wanted to have a time with the Son of God.
Her body wanted to listen to him.
Her spirit wanted to have a nice time with Jesus.
Jesus was not just another guest.
If she had a time with Jesus and understood the message of Jesus, she could go back and prepare a dinner peacefully.
She might have cooked her favorite meal in the presence of God.
But she didn't go and listen.
Then Martha saw Mary quietly sitting and peacefully listening to Jesus!
But the more Mary looked so good, the more Martha was upset.
Then she even wanted to blame her for whatever she was feeling.
She was like:
“Are you kidding?
Look at her.
I cannot believe this!
Why doesn't she come and help me?”
So, Martha marched on and came to Jesus and asked to send Mary to help her.
I thank God for what Jesus has said next.
Jesus made it clear that he was not there to have a free dinner.
His main purpose was to teach.
So Jesus said to Martha:
“Mary chose what is better.
And it would not be taken away from her.”
At this time Jesus just started his ministry.
He was waiting to start this ministry since he was 12.
Jesus wanted to help people.
As always, Jesus was hungry to help people to understand.
Mary was listening and understanding.
Mary was digesting what he had to say.
This was what Jesus wanted.
While teaching Mary and others, Jesus might have been thinking like this:
“Look at her.
She is understanding what I am saying!
She is eating my words like a delicious food.”
So, Jesus explains more and more about his life and about his cross.
He even wants to test how far she can understand him.
Mary loves this and appreciates that.
Jesus visited this house many times.
As you know, near the end of his ministry, Jesus came to this house to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Again, Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha.
Jesus raised him from the dead.
Since then Jesus was more than their teacher.
Jesus then came back to this house, about seven days before his crucifixion.
This house was very close to Jerusalem.
Jesus knew at this time he was about to die.
In this last visit, Martha was preparing a nice dinner for him.
Martha was not frustrated at this time.
She understood who Jesus was.
She could prepare a dinner peacefully, in the presence of God.
But Mary knew something was up with Jesus.
You know, Mary observed and paid attention.
Now she knew the time has come.
So Mary decided to show her gratitude.
Mary took her expensive organic perfume.
Then, she came to Jesus.
She was thinking about how to show her gratitude with it.
Then she saw the feet of Jesus: (Is 52:7)
“Hey, these feet brought Jesus to this house again and again.
With these feet, Jesus came to our life.”
So, she poured out her perfume on his feet.
Then she wiped his feet with her hair.
The house was filled with its very nice smell as Mary showed her appreciation and gratitude, in her own way.
You may say that Mary was having a quality time with Jesus.
She expressed how much she was thankful that Jesus show up in their life.
Jesus was special.
Again it was a few days before his death.
At this very hour, Mary showed her gratitude and prepared Jesus for what was coming.
Jesus was amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude because God helped this lady to understand.
Jesus must have felt peace inside.
Right before facing his humiliation and death, he needed this.
He needed someone to love him and encourage him.
Jesus performed many miracles for many people.
He taught many people.
But some people didn’t even express their gratitude.
But capturing the right moment, Mary was saying:
I appreciate you.
I love you."
Jesus was amazed and thankful for this.
Jesus might have needed this as he was preparing his heart for his cross which was for all people.
Judas Iscariot was right there, too.
But he was a rational guy that couldn’t understand this kind of language of Mary.
So, he was like:
“Hey, Mary, haven’t you heard what Jesus said?
If you have been paying attention, you should have known that Jesus would have told you to sell this perfume and give money to the poor.
That is what Jesus wants." (Mark 10:21)
But Jesus was like:
“No, no, no.
Leave her alone.
I know that you always have the poor with you.
You will have more than enough chances to help the poor.
But you are not going to always have me.
So, she anointed me today before my burial."
Then Jesus might have said something like this to Mary:
“Mary, it is not easy follow your heart, isn’t it?
Even your church people think that you are strange especially when you express your gratitude like that.
But I like it.
I understand it.
I am very grateful for you.
It is very creative.
It is a beautiful expression of faith.
I am grateful for who you are.
So since you have given your heart to me and since you have been taught enough, I hope that you would follow your heart onward as God guides your heart.”
I wonder how we express our gratitude to Jesus.
I wonder how we say to Jesus:
I appreciate you.
I love you.”
I believe that encourages Jesus so much.
In fact, this is the inner desire of everyone including our God.
God desires your love and encouragement.
God wants to feel welcome and love.
Jesus wants to be loved and appreciated.
So how do we express our gratitude toward God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit?
I encourage all of us to express our gratitude and thankfulness to God.
In this way we may honor God as the Person who also has feelings.
God will return your love, appreciation and encouragement many times.
God will be thankful for you.
Maybe in this way, we become a person who God can bless.
God will appreciate your presence.
This is the abundant life that Jesus may be talking about.
Then we may live well and do good in the name of Jesus.
Jesus, thank you.
Thank you for coming into our life.
Thank you for your loving kindness toward us.
Thank you for understanding our feminine side.
May we also become your conduit for your love and grace for this world.
In Jesus name, we pray.