Becoming Spiritual Decathletes: Part 5

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Pastor Mark Mikels July 27, 2008


“Becoming Spiritual Decathletes”

(“Connecting With Christ” Series – Part

Mark 14:1-31

Intro … Today we continue in our quest to become World-Class
Spiritual Decathletes – masters of the 10 incredibly challenging tasks
– the Spiritual Decathlon, if you will, that Jesus himself dominated
the final week of his earthly life.

So far we have examined three of those ten great challenges …

Temple Cleansing – Question Handling – Future Facing

Today we come to …


Christ’s Fourth Great Challenge …


Getting READY For Great Spiritual EXERTION

One can not follow the life of Jesus Christ for more than a few pages
of Scripture (especially not the pages covering the final days of his
life) without realizing that He regularly was called upon to exert
himself greatly in Sacred Service. Great demands were placed upon him –
great ministries were wrought by him.

One of the major tasks of his life and ministry was the actual
preparing of himself for those great exertions.

At the point we pick up the story today, Jesus is right on the verge of
the greatest of all the challenges that would face him … right before
him loomed the Struggle in the Garden, the All-Night Humiliation before
the Leaders of the Land, and the Awfulness of the Crucifixion itself.

Preparing himself for what lay immediately ahead was a challenge in and
of itself and this morning we treat it as such.

Now keep in mind (as we have said each week) that in his personal
preparation for great spiritual exertion, he lays out the pattern we
should follow as we seek to “prepare ourselves” for the spiritual
exertions that we will be called upon to make.

With that in mind, consider with me …

Today’s Key Observation #1 …

Two amazing EVENTS provided the CONTEXT

for the Lord’s personal PREPARATION for Battle …

The DINNER in Bethany and the LAST SUPPER in Jerusalem.

The key word here is “Context” … these two social events provided the
opportunity – the environment – the occasion – for two incredibly
significant happenings and those significant happenings presented Jesus
with the challenge we’ve called “Battle Preparing”.

Happening #1 … At the Dinner in Bethany an unnamed woman came
unobtrusively into this probably all-male gathering and poured an
entire jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ head.

Happening #2 … During the Last Supper in Jerusalem, Jesus identified
himself as the sacrifice that would make possible a New Covenant
between God and Man.

Now, having said just that much let me draw your attention to …

Today’s Key Observation #2 …

From these two amazing events arise two PRINCIPLES

of Preparation, each with its own unique STEP of Response.

Let’s consider these events one at a time … first, the Dinner in

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man
known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very
expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the
perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this
waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages
and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done
a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and
you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to
prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is
preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in
memory of her.”

What an incredible moment! It created quite a ruckus.

Have you ever noticed how an act of generosity – extravagance even –
will generate extreme reactions?

Some will question the “giver’s” motives – they might accuse the giver
of “showing off” or seeking to gain some special “advantage”; others
like some who were there that night in Bethany will point out how the
gift could have been put to so much better use; others might think “I’d
be so embarrassed if such a thing were to happen to me.” People like
that would find Jesus at fault for permitting such a thing to go on.
Still others will inwardly resent the fact that they were neither the
benefactor nor the benefited; they would resent the spotlight that this
deed cast.

The Scripture indicates that the room pretty much exploded with all of
the above – the dinner was put on hold. The woman was in the shadows no
longer – they jumped all over her.

And in the midst of it all, a strong voice, a voice that could not be
ignored said,

“Leave her alone” (you self-centered, pompous hypocrites)

“She has done a beautiful thing to me. She poured perfume on

my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”

Tucked away in the story of that amazing event is …

Preparation Principle #1 …

“God’s GRACE Must Be POURED Out UPON You.”


(Mark 14:3-9)

No Spiritual Task can be accomplished in our own human strength; no man
is equal to the task. Even the Son of God relied upon the strength
provided by the Heavenly Father to face the challenges life laid before

In fact, later in the week Jesus would say that very thing to his
chosen Twelve …

“I am the vine and you are the branches … apart from me,

you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

The Lord said a similar thing to the Apostle Paul when he was
struggling with a great affliction … Paul, he said …

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power

is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The first principle of preparation for spiritual challenge says …

“God’s Grace Must Be Poured Out Upon You”

Be “Willing To Receive It”.

Jesus certainly was …

He said, “She has done a beautiful thing” …

You know, he could have been the first one to get upset … He could
have said … “What are you doing – you’re ruining my meal – you’re
wasting God’s resources – you’re embarrassing me!

He could have expressed more distress than any of them BUT he saw it
for what it was – it saw it as God’s own Grace being poured out upon
him. He was being prepared for what was coming.

I have no doubt that the aroma of that perfume was still upon him when
they nailed him to the cross – each remaining molecule of its fragrance
saying to him “You are prepared for this – You have received Grace from
God for this very hour”.

Preparation for spiritual challenge involves “Receiving the Grace” that
God would pour out upon our lives.

Jesus was ready to receive it … “This, he said, is a beautiful

The Apostle Peter for example was not ready …

Remember how he reacted in the Upper Room when Jesus came to wash his
feet … Talk about an “extravagant action” – the eternal Son of God
stooping to perform such a menial task!

Peter said “Lord, you will never wash my feet”. I will not let you
“pour yourself out” in this way on my behalf. I’m fine just as I am.

Later, that same over-confident, under-prepared Peter would say …

“Lord, I will never disown you”;

Lord, even if all the others fall away, I will not.”

And so, having failed the preparation challenge – Peter would crumble
under pressure and actually deny the Lord three times in a matter of

Even the Apostle Paul didn’t want to receive it…

He wanted the Lord to just take his particular challenge away … In
fact he said that he pleaded with the Lord three times to remove it. (2
Cor. 12:7-9)

But the Lord communicated to Paul that the challenge (what Paul called
his `thorn in the flesh’) would not be removed but “sufficient grace
would be given”, meaning that Paul would be more than prepared to
handle it successfully.

And once he knew that … Paul accepted the Grace and quit trying to
get out of the struggle.

“Therefore, (He said) I will boast all the more gladly about my

(my challenges), so that Christ’s power may rest upon me.”

Preparation Principle #1 …

“God’s Grace Must Be Poured Out Upon You.”

“Be Willing To Receive It.”

And now we come to the second of these two amazing events –

The Last Supper in Jerusalem. Here’s how it reads … Mark 14:17-25

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were
reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of
you will betray me–one who is eating with me.”

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the
bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.
But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for
him if he had not been born.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and
gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all
drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he
said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the
fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of

Here in this event Jesus created a ruckus all by himself. “One of you
will betray me and face severe consequences.”

All of them were first saddened at the thought that such a thing could
happen and then horrified by the thought that any one of them might be
the one.

In telling them ahead of time, Jesus was letting them know that he knew
what was about to happen and exactly how it would happen and that he
was planning to press on in spite of the pain such a thing would cause

And it’s in that “pressing on” that we recognize …

Preparation Principle #2 …



(Mark 14:12-26)

Did you pick up on the key phrase as I read through the account?

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,”

he said to them.

Physically speaking, the blood of Christ would be poured out upon the
cross; spiritually speaking, his blood would be sprinkled on the mercy
seat in the heavenly sanctuary. Many would come to salvation because of
his willingness to be used to “pass on the grace”.

That’s always the final step of preparation … “Willingness to pass on
the Grace that has been poured out upon us” – we could even add,
regardless of the cost.

That night around the table Jesus was demonstrating his complete
preparation for what lay immediately ahead.

Being prepared for Spiritual Battle – Being prepared for great
spiritual exertion of any kind – means recognizing that even as God’s
Grace must be poured out upon us to enable us for effective ministry so
the accomplishment of that ministry requires the Grace of God to be
poured out through us into the very circumstances in which God would
have us minister.

Here’s how the Apostle Paul put it in his second letter to Timothy …

“I am already being poured out like a drink offering.”

(2 Timothy 4:6)

Deep in the dungeons of Rome, Paul sensed that he was near the end and
that his final great act of witness was soon to be given. He would die
a martyr’s death and he would indeed be “poured” out in service to

He had in fact been being “poured out” for years.

Physically, he had been beaten and stoned; he had been shipwrecked and
imprisoned; he had been accused falsely and hounded unmercifully.

He had borne the burden of all the churches that he had established.

And through it all he had served as a willing conduit for the
transforming, empowering Grace of God.

Through His willingness to have that Grace poured out upon him and his
willingness to have that Grace poured out through him, he had prepared
himself to face anything that came to him.

He had faithfully walked in the steps of his Savior and he would
challenge us to do the same …

“Follow my example” (he once wrote) as I follow the example of Christ.”

(1 Corinthians 11:1)

And there we have it … follow the pattern that Christ himself has
laid down and that 1000’s of his saints have emulated over the years

For today … with regard to the challenge of “Battle Preparing” …

Do recognize that the ability to face and overcome spiritual challenges
comes as God pours His empowering, enabling grace upon you and through
you –

Be Willing to Receive it and to Pass it on!

Final Thot …

Most BATTLES are won or lost before the FIRST SHOT is fired –
PREPARATION is everything!