Dying to Live – Gospel in Life

Dying to Live

Tim Keller |  February 6, 2000

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John 12:1-11; 23-28
RS 108-12

John 12:1–9, 23–28

In our walk with God, being holy is important. We see this in John 12 when Mary shows her love for Jesus by using a costly perfume on his feet. This act, spreading a beautiful scent all around, is a symbol of how holiness should permeate our lives. We’re encouraged to recognize God’s holiness and try to live that way too.

1. Unconditional

The story tells us about Mary’s daring act of using an expensive perfume, which was seen as wasteful in her time because it was valuable and crucial for her family’s financial wellbeing. But this shows her total commitment to Jesus, representing total obedience, surrender, and worship of God for His sake, not for any personal benefits. This captures what holiness truly is – being completely obedient to God, no matter what happens.

2. Inexplicable

When Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume, going against what society expected, it shows her deep grasp of the gospel and Jesus’ importance. Her growth from being a student to understanding Jesus’ upcoming sacrifice shows where real holiness comes from. It’s not about religious routines or disciplining oneself, but recognizing the special importance and glory of Jesus.

3. Perceptual

Love grows in us when we truly understand the gospel and what Jesus has done. This understanding brings both bravery and humility, as we see Jesus not just as a king but also as a friend, brother, and loved one. Some might misunderstand certain actions as being sexual, but the Bible teaches us that sexuality is about wanting acceptance and love from someone truly beautiful.

4. Beautiful

We become holy by admiring what Jesus has done and letting him use us, rather than us using him for our own benefits. As Mary shows, it’s not about being perfect, but being willing to give yourself fully. The gospel and Jesus’ selfless acts, reflected by people like Mary, guide us towards becoming more like Christ.



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