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For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

(Hebrews 12:17)

This understanding of “the weight of glory” could be paradigm changing in your struggle with sin. For example, when I am tempted to shade the truth, overeat, or gossip I could look at it as “breaking a rule,” and decide that in “this situation” it’s not so bad if I “break the rule.” But if I look at it as being like Esau, and weighing my wants, my “glory,” as heavier than God’s glory, it’s paradigm changing in my mind.

Let’s consider another difference, for example, between the religious and the gospel person, and how considering the weight of glory might transform our thinking and behavior

Religion The Gospel
My prayer life consists largely of petition, My prayer life consists of generous stretches
and only heats up in times of need. of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.

Praise and adoration is a discipline, to take a truth and praise until the spark becomes a flame takes time. I often feel too busy, but that is because I am weighing my glory as heavier than God’s. This is paradigm changing.

In the same way, we long for prestige, popularity, and position. But the truth is, when we seek our own glory, we are like Esau, and are on the wrong track, headed toward trouble, heartache, and sorrow.














 Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.






1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Whatever you have chosen for your Lenten discipline, how could this concept of the weight of glory transform your thinking and behavior? Be specific.


Begin memorizing John 12:25.

Pastor and Christian speakers are not immune from seeking their own glory. To my shame, I have done it.

How everyone who stands in such a grave responsibility needs a pulpit like this:


These words can impact all of us, however, every day of our lives.

3. Read John 12:20-26

A. What entreaty did the Greeks make of Philip?

    Matthew Henry writes:

   The great desire of our souls should be to see Jesus,

   to have our acquaintance with Him…

   and our communion with Him increased.


B. Do you have this hunger in your heart? If not, pray for it. If so, then ask God to show you how to increase your communion with Him. Write your prayer here.

C. Jesus does not answer directly, but He does answer. First, in verses 23-24 He tells what He must do to be glorified.

D. Then, in verses 25-26 He tells what we must do to experience glory. Put this in your own words.


E. Think about ways you have tried to seek your own glory. How could seeing this as a glory issue instead of a moral issue help you overcome?

F. Write out John 12:25 without looking at it.

4. Read John 12:27-29

A. What struggle do you see Jesus experiencing and what victory in this passage?

B. Where is your struggle today in dying to self? What is the secret to victory?

C. What did God the Father do when Jesus prayed in verse 28? What did people think had happened?

Thunder or the voice of an angel is an understandable interpretation to GLORY. God spoke. God has the weight of glory. If you are looking for a devotional to continue in Lent, I recommend The Weight of Glory.


5. Read John 11:1:8 and explain how Mary of Bethany is an illustration of the above teaching.


Thursday-Friday: Keller on The Weight of Glory

This is not free, but it is wonderful.


6. What notes or comments do you have on this sermon?


7. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

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  1. Mary–praying for tomorrow’s appointment sweet sister.
    Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.-3 John 1:2
    And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.-phil. 4:7

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth.  Just logged on before heading for bed and saw this.  

      1. Yes, Mary, it is on my calendar, too, to lift you up today!

  2. B. Do you have this hunger in your heart? If not, pray for it. If so, then ask God to show you how to increase your communion with Him. Write your prayer here.  “Dear Lord Jesus,   Give me that insatiable hunger that pines for You alone.  I do love your Word.  I love to read, study and discuss it, but give me a heart that is soft and ready to hear what You have to say to me.   Give me a deep longing to see You and worship You who knows me completely and yet truly delights in me.  Amen.”

  3. E. Think about ways you have tried to seek your own glory. How could seeing this as a glory issue instead of a moral issue help you overcome?    I can be guilty of seeking my own glory when I tell people my accomplishments or even my goals, if I’m waiting for them to compliment me on good work or good choices.   An obvious example would be sharing something on facebook and basking in the affirmation (if there was a lot of positive response) or feeling dejected (if there was little to no response).  If accolades from others drive me, I’m seeking my own glory.  But as I think about this, I wonder if the opposite is also true.  Someone mentioned that they get asked to do so many good things, it’s hard to discern what the Lord is saying.  I’m finding myself at the other end of that spectrum.  I don’t get asked to do anything at church anymore.  I feel completely underutilized though I know it’s because of my own personal pulling back. Where I once was involved in almost everything, I’m a very minimal participant now.   Along with a very casual work schedule, and being in my second year of having no kids at home, I sometimes ask myself, ‘What’s my purpose anyway?’  In fact, I said those very words not long ago.  But as I’m thinking about this right now, I see that questioning my purpose might be, it itself, seeking my own glory.  If the chief aim of man is to glorify God and love Him forever, why should I feel sad for myself, if I don’t have some other clearly discernible purpose?   To begin to overcome craving praise or seeking a position, I need to fall at His feet in worship~ in some way, maybe even in a physical, as well as emotional/spiritual sense, position myself to see that He is God.  He is the giver of all good things.  He chose me.  I am known by Him.  He delights in me and anything I accomplish or gain comes from him.

    1. Wanda – I’ve said it before, but sometimes I read your posts and feel we are sharing the same brain!!  🙂  For quite a few years, particularly many in a popular area megachurch, I wore a whole lot of hats and had a lot of leadership roles – which, looking back, I didn’t have the wisdom or maturity to be inhabiting!  Now, for three years or so I’ve been in a smaller and vibrant local church body…..my main role?  Wednesday nights I go and help care for the little ones…babies to 2 yr olds….while other ministries are happening!  Though it was a huge area of need, I am NOT a “kid person”!!  I truly went into this thinking “oh Lord, I’m SO incompetent to be here!”…..I expected a very hard thing…..and I have gotten JOY.  I have no words for how God is reshaping my heart through these wondrous children.  Changing diapers, sitting on the floor and making truck noises, rocking a terrified little foster girl…..well, you get the picture.  Meanwhile, their parents are practicing beautiful music, challenging the high school youth group, leading kids’ clubs……things that just seem ever so “gospel focused” and of eternal value.  Even though it all seemed so upside down to me, the Lord has met me there.  He knew how much this weary mama’s heart needed the littles to bring a breath of freshness to my soul.  He knew my proud heart needed this humble ministry.  Needed to see Him exalted with fresh eyes.  Amen to all that He is !  Thank you Wanda…..for sharing something I needed to ponder.

      1. Jackie,  I am happy to share a brain with you!! Especially, if your half can make up for all the things my half can’t manage!

    2. Wanda, Thanks for this… you so clearly worded something I’ve wondered off and on for a few years.

      But as I’m thinking about this right now, I see that questioning my purpose might be, it itself, seeking my own glory.  If the chief aim of man is to glorify God and love Him forever, why should I feel sad for myself, if I don’t have some other clearly discernible purpose?

      I even wonder the same about seeking God’s purpose for me; if I stick with seeking to glorify Him daily, will I then (or ever) have a bigger vision for how he might want to use me.  I know for right now, trusting without knowing specifics is where he wants me.  But I do wonder if life always will be this way.

  4. Having a very rough week emotionally, and can’t quite seem to grasp the questions….thanks for the example above, Wanda.
    I suppose that I seek my own glory when I try to choreograph dance moves without seeking His guidance first. I struggle with this and tend to be nervous with my creations. I should be more concerned that I am honoring Him when I create motion and dance. Perhaps the moves would come to me easier?

  5. 4. Read John 12:27-29
    A. What struggle do you see Jesus experiencing and what victory in this passage?
    He was in His depths more than just scared..deeply troubled at what he was getting ready to endure..hideous, torturous death and more important, separation from God. Yet He was willing to die to self and yield to God and go through it because His desire was to glorify God.
    B. Where is your struggle today in dying to self? What is the secret to victory? 
    Today: Comfort idol:  Once I obtain a job and get trained I tend to stay forever. 🙂 I get comfortable and prefer a steady life. That said, I am not sensing God’s peace in staying as a manager in the kitchen I work at. I have made the prayerful decision to step down as manager and just be a worker. Long story but it is WAY too much stress for what I get paid. My comfort idol screams no because it is ‘job security’-I know it well and the little extra money is helpful.  Dying to self in this today: The old whispers of ‘being a failure’ coming to my mind and then my pride kicking in and the worst: the evil one temps me to think I will be ‘alone’ when my boss and I talk today…then fears of losing that ‘extra’ money. Victory: He loves me..I am His! The position isn’t what matters, it is glorifying Him regardless. He is with me and He moves even in the hearts of those who don’t know Him..so regardless of what happens I am stepping out in faith today resting in His approval and deep love for me, and will be praying ahead for my boss’ heart. reviewing my memory verses. And He is with me. Even if it is in a whisper..he is in control. Nothing happens that He isn’t aware of-deeply aware. nothing happens that He doesn’t allow or have his hand on somehow and it is all for His Glory and to transform me..so if bad things come today..I want to be thankful ‘for it’ instead of ‘despite it’ and I want my hearts desire that He would be glorified, not me.

    1. Rebecca – my heart just swelled up as I read your words.  I felt compelled to stop and pray for you and for your day today.  Philippians 2:3 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  I have long wanted to post that Scripture verse over our barn doors – why have I not done that I wonder??  At any rate, this is precisely what I see in you and your willingness to step down.  No matter what the stress level, it is HARD to step down and place yourself under another in the role you used to have – I see that the Lord is doing such a deep work in your heart, dear one.  What a beautiful, God ordained opportunity to die to self and let His glory SHINE.  

    2. Rebecca,  I concur – stress is not healthy and above all, we can glorify God at any position of work we hold.  I was not a peace about continuing to work, which is why I retired early. God led that decision, just as He led you to step down.  God was and is glorified in the decision, as well as in your prayers for your new manager and your actions with your co-workers.  Your decision was a powerful example of faith and trust.

    3. Rebecca,
      Peace in this storm to you, sister.

    4. Rebecca, just reading this now. Oh, I pray all went well. This must have been very hard. I know you were struggling with this job. I am sure God will bless you as you seek to follow Him. Thanks for sharing this.

    5. Rebecca,  What an example you are to me.  To seek His will and to desire to live above the extra stress even if it looks from the outside that it is a ‘lesser’ position.  Your attitude and willingness to do this, even if others question your decision, will honor and glorify Him.  Praying that He will be your strength this week as you transition.  I am so sure that He will be producing fruit in you that you would never have known otherwise!

  6. Mary…praying for you, sister…love and peace to you this day.

    1. Mary – amen to Dee’s beautiful prayer today. In the unity of the Holy Spirit, we are all “with you” today…..but most importantly, you are living out that He is Immanuel…..God with you in every moment.  

    2. Amen, Lord.    Bringing our Mary to You together here today.

    3. Amen to all the prayers for Mary. Let us know please how the Lord is leading you, Mary. Hugs!

  7. Mary,   Know how much you are loved by all of us and by God!   We want to absolutely wrap you in our prayers and present you before His throne.   Believing in miracles and praying for miracles for you!     

  8. I am so confused! I am reading John 11:27-29 and I see no prayer and the questions dont make sense to me….what Im I missing????

    1. cyndi-i think that one should be 12:27-29

  9. Question 4A: the struggle Jesus was facing was the same struggle we face in tough times – moving forward with God’s will.  As He prepared to face His death He prayed for God’s will to be done.  His spoken word reflected the acquiescence of His will to do as the Father desired, allowing God’s name to be glorified, whatever the path that Jesus had to walk.
    Question 4C: Some said God spoke, others thought it was thunder.  My surprise was seeing God address an action of Christ with a spoken word again, like He did when John baptized Jesus, as is recorded in Luke 3:22.

  10. I know I was a good teacher, and I always thought it would be good to be honored as a Teacher of the Year.  What troubled me about the application process is the self-glorifying process of writing why you should be given this award.  To my way of thinking, the nomination and accolades should come from the students you taught, their parents, and/or the faculty and staff you associate with.  When I get to thinking about why I should be given credit for an idea, complimented for something I did, I, personally, begin to slip into a prideful spirit, much like I felt when I had to justify why I deserved an award.  This need for accolades is my personal struggle.  As I walk with Christ, I have learned to be on the lookout for the little thoughts like “Hey, that was my idea, etc.” or, Shouldn’t I have been thanked for…?”  This tells me (or rather this is how the Holy Spirit points out to me) that I am slipping into a prideful spirit.  The issue should not be about me getting praise, but rather God getting the glory.  I am learning to be content in that.
    I trust I have explained this correctly.  I could see the wrongness of puffing up self in a Teacher of the Year competition, but still have trouble wanting to put myself in a better light when I feel I have been slighted or wronged.  That is the struggle.

    1. Sherryl,
      Yes, the insidiousness of our pride.   Your post reminds me to order a book by Thomas Harley entitled “Willing to Be Forgotten – May I Decrease that He Might Increase”.    (I read his book entiltled “Some Birds Sing in Winter” and it was life-giving.)    Thank you, Sherryl.

  11. Oh Sherryl, that is so well said!  Just when we think we’ve “got it” and we see the evil and sin in a certain area of our lives……in through the window or the side door comes a sneaky little pride or selfishness or whatever…..ugh!  That is the story of my life!  But Romans 7 gives me so much hope even there…..and The Screwtape Letters is masterful on this whole topic!  🙂  thanks for sharing that….

  12. 4. Read John 12:27-29
    A. What struggle do you see Jesus experiencing and what victory in this passage?
       First of all, what strikes me deeply is that Jesus said “My soul is troubled.”  A couple reasons this stands out:  1)  I know he understands when my soul is troubled, and 2) it’s not bad/sinful to have a troubled soul.
    Jesus is troubled because he is facing the horrors up to and including his death on the cross — and yet it is through his suffering, death, and resurrection that His Father will be glorified.  Jesus prayed that God’s name would be glorified, and a voice from heaven said, “‘Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’”

    I am reading this also as meaning that the God will be glorified, and His Spirit is with his people through whatever it takes for Him to be glorified. Am I reading too much into this??

    1. Renee, I agree with your first comment about Jesus’ soul being troubled and how he can connect with us in our troubling moments and seasons of life.
      I had a friend just share an article that has me intrigued about Discomfort and how western cultures try to avoid and get away from discomforts. Yet, we are unhappy in a very comfortable society in the USA. He gives 3 reasons why we need to embrace discomfort – see below. I think Jesus embraced his troubles and suffering because he was able to see the benefit of why he had to suffer and to know a greater good would come as a result of that suffering. So now I am beginning to think about how my own struggles in the present need to be seen as part of the process for me to grow in my faith and sanctification, because there is a greater reward (acolades as CS Lewis says) in my future and to focus on giving glory to Jesus now as I persevere through my suffering.
      From the article:
      This rings true for me. I think there are three reasons why you and I should embrace discomfort, whether we deliberately choose it, or it simply happens to us.

      Comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It makes us lazy—and forgetful. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent.
      Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt.
      Discomfort is a sign we’re making progress. You’ve heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.” It’s true! When you push yourself to grow, you will experience discomfort.


      1. Great comments and quotes on Discomfort, Carol. Much to ponder here regarding how our culture and I as an individual view comfort sinfully.

      2. Carol, So good!  Thank you.

      3. Excellent post, Carol.  Lots to think about.  Thanks.

  13. Whats MY will…whats GODS will that is the question of the hour isn’t it! HIS word tells us that HE will give us the desires of our hearts. this happens when our hearts are in alignment with HIS. the surrendering process leads to this intersection. 
    MY problem is that I am willing to do whatever it is HE wants me to do, but I cant seem to figure out what that is!! It is SOOO frustrating!!!! He has chosen to keep me in the dark, to only give me the light for today. I am such a planner, a success addict! I want to change the world. He has given me a few starfish (http://www.pstarfish.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Starfish-image-story.jpg)  and I am called to change the world for them right now. I know HIS revealed will….To love God and to love others. so as I wait to hear what HIS will is for my future I will live my present in HIS JOY and GRACE  and HIS LOVE. BUT ITS SO HARD!!!

  14. Mary have been praying for you today!

  15. THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!!  So…while I would love to have heard, “I don’t see a thing there, Mary”  I am still very grateful for what I did hear.  The ocular oncologist said that it did, indeed, look like metastasis of the breast cancer to that eye BUT that she could tell from the characteristics of it (they did tones of pictures and an ultrasound on my eyeball -UGH) that it was already REGRESSING!  She said she felt certain this was likely already there from the time that my other mets (short for metastasis) showed up in the bones and lungs but we just didn’t know it cause we didn’t recheck my eyes last July.  So, it was probably already there, and larger than it is now because she sees evidence that is has regressed and is clearly responding to my current treatment, just as my other areas of mets are responding and my tumor markers dropping.  I have to say that another thing I am so praising God for is that I know He has moved on my behalf, in response to your prayers, with regard to how I have handled this from when I found out about it (last Tuesday) to now. I think I spent 3 or 4 hours last Tuesday crying off and on and being upset and scared but as soon as I thanked God for it and for how He would use it for good, that was the end of that.  I can honestly say I have not really worried about it for another second since that initial day that I found out about it.  THAT is truly supernatural strength, not of myself.  I have felt very lifted up and carried along during this time and I don’t understand how this all works… but I know that God moves in response to our prayers so I do not take credit for this remarkable week of PEACE.  It was the grace of God operating on my behalf, in concert with your prayers.  I think this is one of the ways He was glorified through this and I pray He will will continue to be glorified.  

    1. OH MARY!!!! YES I MEAN TO BE IN ALL CAPS! i HAVE HAD MY WHOLE FAMILY PRAYING–I KEEP REFRESHING THE PAGE TO SEE IF YOU’VE POSTED AND HERE YOU ARE! I AM PRAISING HIM FOR THIS “she sees evidence that is has regressed and is clearly responding to my current treatment, ” oh sweet friend, will continue the prayers, but I am so thankful for this encouragement. Amazing how much love can be felt for a sister I’ve never met–but you are so dear to us! Praying for continued regression and complete healing, and for His peace to carry you–yes, He is being glorified through all of this!

    2. Oh, thanks for the prompt update, Mary…you have been on my heart and mind all day.  Regressing…responding to treatment…supernatural strength/peace…YES! WHOO-HOO! (I’m with Elizabeth…capitals are most definitely fitting…:) ) 

    3. Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus!

    4. Mary, I too join in praising the Lord for this news and thank you for letting us know so quickly.  That you have felt carried along during this time is such a wonderful blessing.  Will continue to pray for healing and continued peace for you.

    5. Mary, the Lord has extended His gracious, loving hand to you. I am glad to be privy to answered prayers-thank you for letting us be a part of your faith journey. I love you, sweet friend and sister in Christ.

    6. WONDERFUL!  Wonderful news to hear on both accounts.  That it is regressing and has responded to the current treatment; unknown to you….but never unknown from God!  AND the ways He has given you peace this week.  That is all so very good to hear.   It is sweet to close out this evening with the blessing of this answered prayer.  Love to you, dear Mary!  May you sleep peacefully, resting in His goodness and grace tonight.  

    7.  Mary,  so grateful for your post here tonight:   …..this remarkable week of PEACE.  It was the grace of God operating on my behalf, in concert with your prayers.

    8. Oh Mary, Thanking God with you and for you!  What a wonderful testimony you are to His Grace and sustenance.  Continuing to pray!

    9. Mary – all I can do this morning is join in the chorus of all my sisters here in praising GOD!!!  To HIM be the glory!!  The words “regressing……responding to treatment….” are ever so beautiful.  Even more lovely is your testimony that exalts and lifts up the name of Jesus – right in the thick of a hot and fiery furnace.  I believe in my heart that one day – WAY down the line!  🙂 – you are going to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Amen.  
      Oh Lord……you have given our dear Mary such a gift in a diagnosis that brings a measure of relief.  Oh, but the gift of your peace that passes all understanding.  You gave her that gift in the days of waiting….how MUCH you love her!  How tender and true is your care for her. Your Spirit shines bright in her and we rejoice in how you are being high and lifted up in her life today.  You love her with your steadfast love.  Your faithfulness to her as your child is so evident day after day.  How great is your name!  In the  name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.  

    10. Mary! Oh, so pleased for you at this report. How wonderful is He that He was healing your eye even before we knew to pray for it! Praise God! =) Will continue to hold you in my prayers!

    11. If I might chime in here late, thanks for updating. Your trust in God is so inspiring! God knows all about this. I am so glad that if you have to have metastasis in your eye, that it is regressing. I will continue praying.  

    12. Sorry I’m so late chiming in, but the report you received sounds so very hopeful, Mary, and I am so glad that God has been holding you so close throughout all of this!

  16. Mary,   I feel much better after reading your post, and I think I understand your total condition better as well.   You may be a miracle-in-the-making.  I hope and pray so!   

  17. Oh,Mary,Thanks for your wonderful positive response! Yes, God is at work and is the source of your peace and hope. We will continue to lift you up in prayer.

  18. Mary…I’ve been praying also  this afternoon  ..  since Wanda s  post in Dee’s fb private page.  I’m so happy to hear you being glad and Praising God the whole time.  You’ll continue to be lifted up to the Lord from us sisters!  Praying for u always!

  19. B. Where is your struggle today in dying to self?Right now, my struggle is in keeping my eyes open. I guess staying awake might be considered dying to self (or maybe just plain dying if I don’t get some sleep soon).  I haven’t worked this late for awhile — and I can see that it would be possible to experience the reverse of the morning when I hustle and don’t take time to “make my soul happy in the Lord.”  Who’da thunk it would have been such a roller coaster week this by mid-week.  I’m looking forward to falling asleep worshipping. 
    Had an answer for this one this morning, but today was “different.” I want to pray about this question more.

  20. 4. Read John 12:27-29
    A. What struggle do you see Jesus experiencing and what victory in this passage? His soul is troubled, He indicates that perhaps He would like to be “saved” from the imminent suffering. The victory is that He knows His suffering is the very reason He came to earth, to complete His will. I get encouragement from this: its ok to feel troubled about what God has called you to? But to trust Him and continue in that calling, not to worry but to trust…
    B. Where is your struggle today in dying to self? What is the secret to victory? I am continually amazed at how deep the desire to NOT suffer goes in me. Even in petty passing things – I “wish” to not suffer. And yet, His will cannot be done without it. Not because He desires to punish me but because there is little/no growth in an easy life. To ALLOW His hand to mold me, versus reluctantly (fighting?) going through the motions is the struggle. To EMBRACE the hard things even when they are not understood. To give thanks FOR all things, good and ‘bad.’ My struggle in dying to self is to continually serve and forgive instead of demanding “my rights” and “what I deserve” because truly I deserve the worst. The victory is in seeking to give Him, alone, glory and seek His face and His will in each situation – this frees me from the bondage of self.
    C. What did God the Father do when Jesus prayed in verse 28? What did people think had happened? He said, “I have glorified it [His name] and I will glorify it again.” The crowd thought that either an angel had spoken or thunder had sounded.
    5. Read John 12:1-8 and explain how Mary of Bethany is an illustration of the above teaching. Mary of Bethany glorified Christ NO MATTER THE COST. Its not about doing the right thing its about loving Him with all my might and desiring to see Him glorified and pouring out myself for Him. When I truly began to fall in love with Jesus, beginning to see how He truly loves me, I just saw things differently – my eyesight changed from morality and fear to love and desire for Him.

  21. 5. Read John 12:1-8 and explain how Mary of Bethany is an illustration of the above teaching.  
    Everything about this story shows Mary’s devotion to, and understanding of, who Jesus truly is.  I do love to read the same story in other gospels when possible – Matthews account has some gems that really speak deeply to my heart.  Though John alludes to Jesus’ burial, in Matt: 26:12 we read Jesus’ words “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”  Wow.  Mary “got it”.  Though the disciples at this point were still confused and hoping for an earthly kingdom it seems……Mary was willing to follow Christ to the death.  She postured herself completely as a servant here by falling at his feet and annointing him.  She freely poured out what seems to be the equivalent of a year’s wages.  She was completely unconcerned about letting down her hair ( a big no no at that time) and looking undignified – and possibly even looking deranged!!  🙂   Though we know from the story of Lazarus dying and being raised by Jesus that Mary loved her family dearly, it’s clear from this passage alone that Mary’s heart belonged to Jesus.  In Matthew 10:37-39 we read these words of Jesus :  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Oh my.  Takes me back to Luke 10: 38-42…..when Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching…..she was one who had ears to hear.  She was absorbing Jesus’ words like a sponge into her inner being – she was being transformed and becoming willing to follow Christ wherever that led.  She was realizing that he was Messiah.  He had come to die.  Wow again.  It seems to me that Mary was very nearly unique in the Scriptures in her level of understanding of who Jesus really was.  This particular passage really lends new insight to me into the “Mary and Martha” passage……she WAS hearing what Jesus was saying.  It would lead her to this moment of annointing Jesus for his death and burial.  It would lead Jesus to say of her “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matt26:13)  When Jesus says that about someone….we do well to take note!  

  22. and…..my answer to question #5 is a good illustration of why I am answering the majority of the questions privately, off line – I do get a bit carried away!!  Dee, your wonderful questions lead me to probe and ponder – love them!!  🙂  

      1. Dee, the typo was beneficial for me.  I read the verses in ch 11 again just at the right time 🙂

  23. Mary and Martha.  When thinking about this passage, I suddenly was bothered (again?) by what has, as long as I can remember, been a view of Mary as the “good” sister and Martha as the “bad” sister. It’s a family dynamics thing;)  Then, last week, this verse soaked in,”Now qJesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  What’s the deal here?  It’s shorter to say “Mary” than “her sister???”  It’s not as if Martha was Jesus’ enemy.
    Then I read Jackie’s good answer to #5.  I was gonna skip that question because I was having a hard time thinking about it without comparing the two sisters.  It’s not as if I am a total Martha-type (Believe me, many Martha-types would like to light a fire under me).  Nor am I a total Mary-type. But my dichotomizing brain was driving me CRAZY.  So, I did some quick googling and found this sermon  http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/martha-martha-youre-not-so-bad-clay-gentry-sermon-on-martha-177884.asp?Page=1   titled “Martha, Martha, You’re Not so Bad.”  I scanned — didn’t read it that closely — and I want to come back and dig deeper on this.  At least this gave me enough to move on look at more questions, to be less crazy (maybe part of the prob is only having coffee & one almond for breakfast! and not enough sleep? 🙂 ).   Also, when I think of Mary being a good example, I now will remember “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Mary’s adoration of Jesus is a response to Jesus’ love. Anyhow, the comparison in families, churches, workplaces (“you should be like”) is difficult for me, especially when I think it is involving ME.

    One area this is challenging and encouraging me is that it points out to me the need to simplify. I’m loving spending more time worshipping, and God is granting me the grace and strength to meet pressing deadlines. Yet a lot is going undone. These chapters are anchoring me on how/what to prioritize (worshipping/learning at Jesus’ feet) and motivating me to identify/get rid of busy-ness distractions. I had the motivation before but developing a stronger/longer habit of worship is allowing Jesus to light up my messy darkness.

    1. Renee…..I love this post and hope to read this sermon sometime.   This line made me smile.  “(Believe me, many Martha-types would like to light a fire under me)”  From my perspective, I think you are a perfect example of an M&M blend.  (but the Martha part of me thinks that you do need to eat at least a handful of almonds for breakfast.)  

    2. It’s just me again, reading your post a little closer.  I too remember sermons that led me to believe that Martha was the ‘bad’ sister and that ‘Mary, had chosen the better way.’  but I also notices the wording of that passage where the writer uses Martha’s name and refers to Mary as ‘her sister’.  That IS a real affirmation that she was as loved (of course she was!) as Mary.  I think what I might get out of the differences in the personalities or the ‘modus operandi’ of the two sisters, is that we are not made to be ‘cookie cutter’ Christians.  We have different strengths and different gifts (as well as different flaws).  It’s always been reassuring to me that Jesus loves and blesses both sisters.  

      1. Wanda – just another thought on Mary and Martha……sometimes I think we have them kind of frozen in time – the passage in Luke 10: 38-42 is so very memorable!  Four little verses…..packing in so MUCH.  But this incident happened at least six months(maybe more) prior to the one we are looking at this week in John 12…..it is hard to sugar coat the interaction between Martha and Jesus in Luke.  The Scriptures do say that Martha was “distracted”, that she confronted Jesus and accused Mary, and that Jesus (probably with GREAT compassion) made a clear reply:  “Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Jesus never confronts Martha’s serving – but he does confront her heart ……”anxious and troubled about many things”.  I think rather than just leaving Martha right there in her anxiety and worry, we need to allow for heart CHANGE in Martha after her conversation with Jesus.  There’s no question that Jesus was pointing out her sin…..but doing so in a way that drew her in with his love.  I really believe that Martha CHANGED after that encounter.  I think we surely see glimpses of this when Lazarus died.  I think Martha probably remained a “go getter” all of her life…..but without being DRIVEN by anxiety (perfectionism???).  I think that the Master’s love had brought “the good portion” into her serving!!  🙂  Just a little different perspective?  Probably totally off the wall!!

        1. Actually, really good thoughts to bring more of the story into the picture, Jackie.  I don’t always stop and look at ‘everything we know’ about a person or story.  You are very good at creating a synopsis of the whole.  Thanks!  

  24. My mind has turned to mush since yesterday.  Many of you know from the facebook prayer page, that our church family is going through the devastating loss of a young man who took his own life on Tuesday eve.  What impresses me so greatly, is how extensive the ripples of loss are.  We aren’t close friends with his parents, but our youngest daughter became good friends with his younger sister on a mission trip a few years ago.  And it was heart wrenching to have to call and tell her the news.  (I’m so glad she didn’t find it on social media first).  All she could say was how she wanted to be home that very moment.  She wanted to rush to her friend’s side and be there with her.  She sobbed and sobbed.  And this mom just wanted to jump in the car and drive 145 miles and hold her.   Life is rearranged in a moment when we hear tragic news.  Our plans to happily drive to Duluth Friday eve and cheer on our high school boy’s  basketball team in their first ever section final game have turned into sorrowfully going to the local funeral home to support those who mourn.  While I can’t really concentrate on the specific questions of this lesson,  I am ever SO grateful for the message of the lenten passage I am memorizing…...” Surely, He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows….a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering”  from Isaiah 53.  I am SO grateful for the truth reinforced last week about Jesus weeping at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus and railing with anger at death; the enemy.  And how he wept, not for Lazarus alone, as he knew Lazarus would arise.  He wept for every funeral he could not stop.  That impressed me so greatly, last week.  I had no idea how soon I would be pressed to apply it to my experience.  I think about how God knew all about  our Mary E’s eye long before she or any of her doctors knew.  And God knew what Tuesday night would bring for so many in our community.  I think of all the moms or dads who were making phone calls to their adult kids, away at college, and bearing the same news as I was.   One of my friends remarked today, ” It is amazing to think of God being able to comfort hundreds of people at the same moment.  I’m glad I don’t have to understand that to know that it is true.”  Me too. Thanks to those who were aware of this circumstance and have prayed for my daughter as well as this grieving family.  My daughter has secured time off from her job tomorrow so she can get home in time for the visitation/funeral.  She is on Spring Break after that, so that is God’s Providence too.  

    1. Wanda, I’m praying that God will use this tragic event to bring the attention of your two kids who are not walking with Him back to Him!  

      1. Thank you, Mary.  It so encourages me when people pray for my kids.  My oldest two are so much older, they really don’t know this family, but they do love their little sister who is friends with the younger sister of the 21 year old who died.  I know this has affected her a lot and I keep praying that it grows her faith to see God’s love and mercy as she reaches out to her younger friend.  

        1. Wanda – I’m with Mary on this.  Another wake up call to prayer for your adult children.  I am praying for them this morning (and have been).  Most especially perhaps for your youngest…..when I was her age I remember sitting with a woman whose youngest son (21) had just committed suicide.  I had become quite close with Ramona over the previous 2 years, though I never knew her son (he was in the Navy).  The horror was unspeakable and those moments with her are imprinted in my soul.  It was my first inkling in life that this particular kind of death is in a league all it’s own.  My heart goes out to this family.  To your daughter’s friend.  I do pray that in time the preciousness of life and the glory of God will shine through…..surely your daughter will be wondering “Is He really there?  Does He really care?”….I pray His comfort will reach deep into her heart.  

  25. B. Where is your struggle today in dying to self? What is the secret to victory?
    My struggle is in accepting myself as being imperfect and unable to “keep the rules”. I have carried other people’s shame for them (somehow thinking I am doing an honorable thing or protecting them) as well as carrying my own shame. As I uncover the shame and the rigid rules and the need to please others (with my therapist’s help), I am realizing that I cannot fix myself (that need to always be in control) and I am nearly inconsolable with this thought that I can’t do it! 
    So what is the secret to victory? God is showing up daily and I notice him and learn to listen to him and not what the world, or others, or my own head/heart are telling me – that I am a failure and incapable and inadequate and BAD. Jesus is telling me that He loves me just as I am. Ladies, I need help here – how do I learn to take in and truly believe what Jesus is saying to me? Somehow my head knows this on an intellectual basis, but how do I move this Good News into my heart and cling to it for all I got? He says I am loved, righteous, forgiven, saved, and that my life will bring glory to him as I live out my sacrificial daily life. How do I get this to be my default thought, instead of the thought of being bad/flawed/defective?
    Here is a quote from Wesley Hill’s book that I am wrestling with right now:
    “The Bible calls the Christian struggle against sin FAITH (Heb 12:3-4; 10:37-39). It calls the Christian fight against impure cravings HOLINESS (Rom 6:12-13, 22). So I am trying to appropriate these biblical descriptions for myself. I am learning to look at my daily wrestling with disordered desires and call it TRUST. I am learning to look at my battle to keep from giving in to my temptations and call it SANCTIFICATION. I am learning to see that my flawed, imperfect, yet never-giving-up faithfulness is precisely the spiritual fruit that God will praise me for on the last day, to the ultimate honor of Jesus Christ.” (p 146)
    So I know that dying to self is looking to Jesus, my author and perfector of my faith. And if anything, just needing to vent that this is so very hard to do. I must always remind myself that Jesus doesn’t expect me to do it; he tells me – My grace is sufficient for you!

    1. Carol…the quote from Wesley Hill stopped me in my tracks this morning..I am snatching this..so good.

      1. Rebecca, I agree. The quote stops me in my tracks too. I’ve been chewing on it for this whole week and will for weeks to come. It’s not about me! It is all about God and His love for me.

        1. Carol, amen-it is all about Him and His Love for me. “My flawed, imperfect never giving up faithfulness is precisely the spiritual fruit that God will praise me for on the last day, to the ULTIMATE HONOR OF CHRIST.” – This stuck with me. imperfect, never giving up flawed faithfulness is spiritual fruit..but even then I can’t claim any praise for it..for He is in me empowering me to desire to not give up. pretty powerful.

    2. Carol – your sharing here is precious.  Others here have answered you with encouragement.  Many here know that two years ago (almost exactly) “the bottom fell out” when my daughter’s fiance died and she told us that she had late stage ovarian cancer.  The grief was overwhelming.  After several months – to condense a VERY long story! – my paralyzed heart began to beat again…..and I found myself so drawn to Scripture memory.  I can’t really explain it, but the Lord has used Scripture memory powerfully in bringing peace to my life.  During Advent, here on the study blog we memorized from John chapter 1 together.  The testimonies of how God has used that precious memory work in His Word in so many of the sisters’ lives here was simply incredible.  Though mysterious, something about the way the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts and the living Word of God working together begin to affect enormous change in the deepest recesses of our being…….not overnight (usually!  🙂  ), but steadily.  Just to share a snapshot from my own life……

      1. Jackie, thank you for your story and encouragement in scripture memory. I often think of Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NIV). And I so appreciate your reminder to focus on God’s Word as it “reads me” when I think I am reading it.

    3. Carol. I am touched by your openness and am praying for you. Yes, I can relate to the desire to fix the imperfect self…
      I have that desire to be in control and give it to God daily. That doesn’t mean i don’t still struggle. God helps me through my
      battle and is teaching me to trust Him. Praise to our loving Savior, We don’t have to be perfect- we are not!

  26. Carol,  The way of moving that intellectual knowledge to one’s heart, has been impressed on me the last few weeks here, in the truth that, in Jesus, we have the only deity who not only says he loves us just as we are, but actually entered into our suffering. He is totally divine but also totally human.  It completely boggles the mind, but at the same time, allows our hearts to know that He knows our pain and sorrow.  He suffered with us, voluntarily because He loves us unconditionally.  I love saying over in my mind.  “No matter what I’ve done or haven’t done, Jesus could never love me any more or any less than He does right now.”  All I can do, in light of that truth, is adore Him.  

    1. amen, Wanda!

  27. Carol and Wanda, Thank you for this exchange between the 2 of you. I rely too much on my emotions when it comes to appropriating the love of God. The intellectual knowledge is there but I sure do long for a full awareness of the presence of God in my life. Busyness is my idol right now. Even right now as I type, I am strongly struggling with whether to take on an online class that I could “stack on my credentials”. I have a few valid reasons to take it on but I have been sensing an unease about it.  I know I need margin and breathing room but I cannot shake my go-for-it personality. (smile here). I am presently working on a bible study by Priscilla Shirer titled Breathe. I am being convicted from several angles. Lord, help me to obey your prompting. Let me see this “opportunity” through your eyes. So many good things, Lord but I don’t want them to take my eyes off you. Help me to say, No and that this No will bring glory to you and only you.

    1. Ernema – your words cheer my heart this morning.  Such a practical picture of going deeper with Jesus.  Thank you.

  28. I finished reading CS Lewis’ “Weight of Glory” and found it very inspiring! Lewis’ writings are dense and some of his Latin and his references are unknown to me but it is well worth wading through. I need to read it again and take notes. 

    1. You’re right about his references often being unfamiliar.  And sometimes, he states them so casually, you just have to chuckle.  🙂

  29. 3. Read John 12:20-26
    A. What entreaty did the Greeks make of Philip?
    They said to Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
    B. Do you have this hunger in your heart? If not, pray for it. If so, then ask God to show you how to increase your communion with Him. Write your prayer here.
    Dear Jesus, I do long to know you better and to love you with a purer heart. I listen to a lot of pastors on Christian radio, do my Bible study, read a Christian book, but there are days where I just feel a sense like something is missing, and I think it must be You. Sometimes my daily life just seems so distracted and disjointed, going in so many directions at once. Or, I hear about so many loved one’s problems that I feel overwhelmed and helpless to help them. I want to experience your presence with me throughout my day, whether I’m at home cleaning, or visiting my parents, or at work, or whatever I’m doing or wherever I am. Please show me Your risen-ness, your reality…help me to see You in the everyday situations. I invite You, I want You, to be right by my side; give me eyes to see You there.
    C. Jesus does not answer directly, but He does answer. First, in verses 23-24, He tells what He must do to be glorified.
    I think Jesus is referring to Himself when He speaks of the kernel of wheat falling to the ground and dying, that it may produce many seeds. In order for Him to be glorified, He must die.

  30. The Greeks asked Philip, Sir, We would like to see Jesus.
    Do you have this hunger in your heart? Yes, I do have this hunger to see Jesus every day.
    Abba, Father, My desire is to seek your presence; to ever lift you higher, to humble myself
    and to serve you and praise you. I need your wisdom. i give you honor and thank you for all the ways you reveal yourself to me. Amen
    In verses 23-24 He tells what He must do to be glorified. As a kernel of wheat dies it produces many seeds. And so Jesus must die , and thus give us the opportunity for eternal life to all who believe and follow him.
    Verses 25-26,  teaches the way for us: to lose my life, my own desires , to die to selfishness and to seek to serve sacrificially. It is not my life, but I belong to Christ, my Savior.
    Ways that I have tried to seek my own glory: Tried to be successful, to earn recognition for what I do, and sought praise.
    However these attempts are futile. I must decrease and he must increase. I will seek his will daily.

  31. Sisters, just to let you know..Thank you for praying for Dee as she is speaking at an event this weekend in IL, and then will be speaking again next weekend. Then she has three back to back events in April. She is busy right now but as you know she loves you all so! If you happen to have issues with the blog or anything else please don’t hesitate to email me at rebecca@deebrestin.com and I will try to help you but will forward tech issues that seem to be an issue with others to David. Thanks so much!!! I feel so so so blessed to have you all as my dear sisters in Christ. 

  32. I finished listening to Keller’s message on the weight of God’s glory. So much to process although I sure have clung to a few thoughts:
    1. Everyone is seeking glory; we are all after glory whether it is in a relationship or our work. I think of the people whose words have import to me when they speak. These are the people that I value and the weight of their opinions are considered “heavily” in my decision making. I need to be careful I am not seeking their approval and missing the things that are approved by God.
    2. We are to seek God’s glory and we do this through adoration and obedience. On adoration:God wants us to praise Him not because He is egotistical (my own word) but because we need it. He used the illustration of a person being a fog or mist and suddenly realizing that he/she is close to a precipice. The person suddenly become aware, get a grasp of the magnitude of the discovery and then have to act on it (in this case walk away from the spot near precipice). Adoration is like that-it is a discipline. We need to get out of the fog and grasp the magnitude of God’s love for us and what Jesus has done and prompt us to adore Him and to obey because of who He is. Reality of God’s glory, grasping its significance and acting on it through adoration and obedience. Disobedience is a glory issue.
    3. We can experience the glory that we so wanted. “The eyes of your heart maybe enlightened in order that you may know…the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18
    Oh, Lord, I want to live a life that speaks of my adoration for you. The eyes of my heart wander too much away from you instead of being full of wonder of you. Thank you for not giving up on me all these years. You are so patient with me. Help me obey daily and take up my cross willingly knowing it is you alone that deserves the glory.

  33. I attended an Authentic Intimacy conference today with Juli Slattery and Linda Dillow…an amazing time with solid teaching. If they happen to host an event in any of your areas, I would highly recommend. There is something for women who are married, single, and all ages. I’m skimming comments…Wanda, I’m so sorry about the young man from your church, and how the sorrow is impacting your daughter and so many…yet thankful he was so loved by so many. My heart goes out to you.

  34. my take-away: 2 things will stick with me for sure. 
    1. I said that Mary saw her sacrifice as “worth the cost” but I think the truth may be closer to the realization that she saw no cost, for her desire to glorify Jesus was so intense and was what she wanted and desired that the cost became nothing in the shadow of Him. Her eyes were to Him, not on the cost. 
    2. This quote from Dee above has stuck with me, and I pray will continue to as I seek to serve Him and lay down me for Him to increase. 
    “This understanding of “the weight of glory” could be paradigm changing in your struggle with sin. For example, when I am tempted to shade the truth, overeat, or gossip I could look at it as “breaking a rule,” and decide that in “this situation” it’s not so bad if I “break the rule.” But if I look at it as being like Esau, and weighing my wants, my “glory,” as heavier than God’s glory, it’s paradigm changing in my mind.”