04/01/23 Daily Devotion – The last week of Jesus’ life – Saturday (The Sabbath Day)

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet, wiped his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “ It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.” (John 12:1-11 NIV84)

Just think about it. The last week of Jesus’ life. No one really knows that it is the last week of Jesus’ life, except for Jesus Himself. For everyone else it looks to be an ordinary week. But little do they know, this is going to be NO ordinary week. Jesus is going to reveal Himself in the most public way as the Messiah on Palm Sunday. He is going to cleanse the temple, and then for days, take over the temple as He teaches in it. He will celebrate the Lord’s Supper, pray in Gethsemane, be betrayed by His own, and finally die on the cross as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) But what about today, Jesus’ last Sabbath? One would understand, given the short time He had left and the amount of work still left to do, if Jesus would have snuck a little “work” in. Come on, we all know what it’s like to be busy. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to get everything done. Right!? Wrong! Amazingly, on the last Sabbath day of Jesus’ life, He is recorded to have apparently observed the Sabbath day. He went to the home of His good friends, Lazarus, Mary and Martha. With everything to do and accomplish in such a short time, Jesus peacefully celebrates the Sabbath with his closest friends and disciples.

Every time I contemplate Jesus’ obedience to honor the Sabbath (the last Sabbath before His crucifixion), I find myself terribly convicted. Too often I place myself in a position in which I am telling God that He just doesn’t understand how busy I am. How silly considering this text! No one but Jesus ever had such an important week before Him, and even He found it possible to honor the Lord’s Day. It’s not so much about the day, but the attitude of the heart. Jesus knew and trusted that the Father had everything in control–something I need to remember, not just during Holy week, but every day of my life.

The rest of the day ends in a way that the Sabbath should not end. Disciples are complaining because Mary anoints Jesus with very expensive perfume. Here, Mary is not only pouring out perfume, but with the perfume, her extravagant love for Jesus. But Judas, a thief and betrayer, protests the the entire act. He misses the act of compassion and reduces it down to a waste. If that isn’t the purest definition of missing a God moment! Lastly, the Pharisees are wanting to kill Lazarus because too many are becoming believers in Jesus due to His message and His miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. Like Judas, the Pharisees miss the point. The question that should be asked of the Pharisees is, “Why aren’t you believing in Jesus?” They were witnesses of His teaching. Every time they looked at Lazarus, they were looking at a man once dead. Rather than accept the message of the Gospel, they demonically grow colder and more distant from it.

All of these people would have told you at the end of the day that they honored the Sabbath day. Is that true? Of course not! Ritual obedience is not enough to touch the heart of God. God’s worshipers worship God in Spirit and Truth. May we be found to be like Jesus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and many of the disciples who faithfully honored the Sabbath day, solely because it is a day to be honored.


Pastor Tom


About the author: Tom Donnelly