Authentic Worship

Greetings from Fort Lee Gospel


Message from an event that took place the day before Palm Sunday

Next week is Palm Sunday.  Today I want to look at authentic worship from John 12

Jesus’ history with this family

Jesus was close with this family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  They lived 2 miles from Jerusalem where Jesus came to all the major Jewish feasts – 3 times a year.  We can assume they were well off.  Jesus’ most impressive miracle was raising Lazarus from the dead after 4 days in a tomb.

Read John 12:1-11

Focus is on 3 people in this account: Judas, Martha, and Mary

I.  Judas: Failure to Worship

John 12:4-8

Key to later betrayal – no heart of worship

Judas could not understand Mary’s act of worship.  He was a thief because he did not worship.  He was greedy because he did not worship.

With all Judas witnessed, he still asked. ‘What’s in it for me?’

Judas saw all Jesus’ miracles.  Judas was sent out with the 12 and the 70 to preach and heal the sick.  Jesus had more interaction with Jesus than some of the others as he was the treasurer.  Yet, he still was focused on personal gain.  What’s in it for me?

We are like Judas when our fulfillment is more important than God’s will

The #1 reason Americans go to church is that they get something out of it.  We like the music or we like the preaching.  We feel better when we leave.  If your relationship with Jesus is primarily for your benefit, you are like Judas.  We are called to be committed to doing God’s will

Illustrations of failure to worship

When you hear of a preacher who is caught up with sexual sin or stealing money, you can be sure there is a failure in worship. 

When a person stops going to any church because someone offended them, there is a failure in worship.  They are still more concerned with their own feelings than the will of God.

When politics get ugly in a church, and Christians act very unchristian, there is a failure in worship first.


Martha: Struggling Worshiper

John 12:2, John 11:21-26 & Luke 10:38-42

Read each of these passages

Martha was a believer, a worrier, and a worker

There is no question that Martha believed in Jesus.  She was responsible for all the guests at her home.  She was a good worker.  I identify more with Martha than Mary.  The ministry keeps me busy while adequate time for prayer is a challenge. 

The church needs people like Martha

Marthas serve the church well, are faithful, volunteer to fill many church needs.

The danger Marthas face is when they lose sight of worship

There is danger in being too busy to pray and worship.  There is danger in not understanding those who worship better than they serve.  There is danger in being judgmental of others less active.  There is a danger that some Marthas can become like Judas.

The key is to keep working at prayer and building our time with God.  Book title “Too Busy Not to Pray”.  Failure to continue to worship can lead to a derailed ministry.


Mary: Passionate Worshiper

John 12:3

Mary humbled herself in an act of love to Jesus.  She gave Jesus her best.

Worship came out of gratitude

Mary worshiped because of what He had done for her brother.  We are called to be thankful as well.

II Cor. 8:9

9”For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Our greatest gift is our salvation.  Eternity with God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This is the Easter story. 

Worship was sacrificial

There is a cost to true worship.  Singing a song on Sunday is easy, worship is challenging.  In parts of the world, is costs some believer’s their lives to worship Jesus.

Acts 9:15,16

This is part of the salvation story of Paul.  Not an invitation to comfort and ease.

15”But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

Paul was a great worshiper.  It cost him much, but his life counted for eternity.

Illustrations of worship

Gabre was the pastor of an Ethiopian church in Manhattan.  Called back to his home city.

New member of our church.  From India and has a Masters degree.  Works in motel 7 days a week.  Supports extended family and a number of pastors and ministries.  

What kind of worshiper are you?

The first step of faith is to invite Jesus to change your heart from being a Judas to being a worshipper. 

If you identify with Martha, keep pursuing your relationship with God in prayer and the spiritual disciplines.

May Mary challenge all of us to put Jesus first in our lives.  To love Jesus above all else.