Jesus and the Spirit: Part 6

Text: Luke 10:38-11:13; John 12:1-8

Watch on YouTube HERE

Introduction: Thinking about prayer as relational rather than an activity.

Do not stop at the chapter breaks imposed on the text.

  • Often the connection must be made, or you will miss the author’s way of teaching you more.
  • Acknowledge the influence of Timothy Keller on the sermon this morning.

Explore the Text: Luke uses Mary & Martha story to teach us about prayer.

Back to Mary, Martha, & Prayer: Do I Desire Jesus or My Plans?

  • Martha is the embodiment of what many Christians & churches in our culture often admire: action and success in achieving our goals.
  • In contrast, notice what Mary is doing: she sets aside expected norms & chooses an opportunity for a transforming relationship with Jesus.
    • Mary as a disciple sitting with a rabbi.
      • This would have been shocking in that culture. (Jn. 4)
      • Men were seen as disciples! Jesus’ Lordship is not constrained by cultural norms and expectations. (Lk. 81-3)
    • Jesus has her attention. He has her heart.
      • He is in her home & she realizes the extreme importance of making time to be with him.
    • Perhaps this was part of Martha’s frustration with her sister.
  • Martha’s feelings & reactions are understandable at one level.
    • It is easy to substitute religious actions that can be seen for the reality of a relationship that is known only by Jesus.
    • Her feelings express our common reaction to those who do not accept the motivational rhetoric of the importance of religious goals & activities that often impress others and ourselves.
    • People who emphasize achievement often struggle to understand the fundamental importance of a transforming relationship that must be cultivated, nurtured, and developed in order to flourish.
      • Jesus taught his disciples to expect such a reaction from family members and others who think like Martha.
  • Over time, the reality of a transforming relationship with Jesus changes who we are and why do anything & everything.
    • Actions that flow from a new, transformed heart & mind.
    • See the Story in John 12!

Understanding Jesus on Prayer in the Light of the Mary & Martha Story

  • Prayer is not only about asking, it is about seeking & yielding to Jesus.
    • Martha seeks Jesus on her terms!
      • She has a prayer request & tells Jesus to make Mary help.
    • Jesus shocks Martha He also may make some of you a little angry!
    • Jesus hears her request and knows that a yes to her would damage her heart, mind, and soul. So, he answers no!
      • Martha has a choice: seek to know Jesus & change her way of doing life, or be angry with both Mary & Jesus.
  • The Relational Intimacy of Prayer. (11:1-13)
    • The acceptance of the gospel is important to prayer.
      • A relationship that comes by grace into my life and that flourishes as I listen and respond in faith.
      • I am an adopted child, an heir of the King! (Rom. 8:14-17)
      • I pray as one who has a relationship in Christ. (Rom. 8:26-39
    • As a child, I acknowledge the supreme importance of my Father and my true desire that his kingdom come into my life as I depend on his provision for my daily needs.
  • Humble-confidence: the paradoxical attitude of a disciple’s prayer.
    • The friend at the door has an urgent need and the relationship provides a possibility.
    • Look closely at the story: the friend does not instantly say yes!
      • The persistent & shameless audacity of the person knocking at the door influences the man inside!
    • I think Jesus is making a “how much more than” argument.
      • See that logic in his next illustration about Fathers and sons.
  • Prayerful Persistence Based on a Promise
    • Jesus invites us to ask, seek, and knock with confidence in the great goodness of our Father who hears our prayers in love.
    • Father-son example (11:9-13): Consider the reverse example, if the son was asking for a scorpion or a snake, what would a good father say? A good father would not say yes to a young child with that request. The no might be very upsetting to the child who might begin a series of “Why not” questions.
    • As a child of the Father by the gracious work of the Son, what should I be constantly seeking, asking for, and knocking for?
    • Jesus answers that question: The Holy Spirit is essential.
      • God wants new people full of his life who are learning how to live by following Jesus as we listen to & practice his teaching.

A Transformed Heart & Mind: Mary’s Insight as Jesus’ Disciple (Jn. 12:1-8)

  • Martha has Changed! Martha is still serving guests (Jn. 12:2; Mt. 26:6-13) but in this story, she has a new mind for interpreting what she sees.
    • Lazarus is lying beside Jesus.
    • Mary is up to something besides serving dinner.
    • Martha is making those opportunities possible for others as she serves with love and without harsh judgment.
  • The three siblings are in sync with the heart of Jesus.
    • See also the story in Jn. 21 where Jesus makes clear to Peter, another person of action, that he is not to worry about John, another person who we see in Jn 13 as lying next to Jesus.
    • In our lives with Jesus as in our prayers, we yield to the role God gives each of us for his glory.
  • Mary knowingly anoints Jesus with expensive perfume & is criticized.
    • The disciples misunderstand her motives & criticize her actions according to their standards (John features Judas and his evil motive for judging). (see Mt. 26:8-9)
    • Jesus does not agree with Mary’s critics.
      • He endorses & explains her motives and actions.
      • Mary listened closely to Jesus & understands what he meant when he said that he has come to Jerusalem to die.
      • Her understanding leads to extravagant action as an expression of her love.


  • Do unexpected things that interrupt your plans frustrate you?
    • My New Day Began with Surprises.
      • My phone refused to charge last night or early this morning.
      • When I got to the office, I discovered that both my keyboard and my mouse had no charge.
      • When I stepped into the restroom with a sense of urgency, I saw the out-of-order sign.
    • Two things were different: (1) I had begun my day taking time with God & reminding myself of his love and provision for my needs. (2) I had received messages from our missionaries in Kyiv, Ukraine, & realized how small my problems were in comparison.
  • What is the orienting priority in your life? Immersed in a relationship with Jesus or immersed in your busy life of important action?

A Special Update From Brandon Adams & Natasha, one of our Missionaries in Ukraine

  • Brandon texted: Natasha texted that they had 2 baptisms at their church service this morning at the school. Sasha was able to preach remotely & they met together & praised the Lord
  • Brandon asked Natasha if there was anything that she wanted to tell the congregation at Madison. She said, “Thank you for your prayers, we love and appreciate all of you!”
  • Brandon told Natasha that we have heard about the great resistance that the people of Ukraine are putting up that is frustrating & slowing the Russians.
  • Natasha said “Yes, we know, we love our people and our president! But we also understand that our courage may cause the Russians to want to destroy us completely. And we pray🙏”
  • Brandon Observed: Despite all of it, they are worshiping the Lord, praising his name & He is adding to their family with baptisms. They continue to find ways to help the people despite the curfew & being under Marshall law.
  • They are so inspirational & something we can only pray our country would be like if we were in the same situation. So powerful of them to show us what it means to follow Jesus.
  • We have received information that the preacher at Mariupol, Alexander Piletsky, was wounded. We do not have much info yet. Please pray!