Applecart Upset

7 Jul

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected…  John 12:4

Wherever Jesus went he upset the applecart of tradition and man-made religion.  He turned over extortioners’ tables in the temple twice.  He said a man must be born again to enter the Kingdom.  Common fisherman were His chosen disciples.  Jesus forgave sins, healed on the Sabbath, and didn’t answer the Pharisees’ questions the way they wanted.

Jesus took on the religious legalism that prevented an authentic relationship with the Father.  Jesus knew what He was doing in each case and how much of a stir His actions and words would cause.

His good friend’s sister, Mary, probably didn’t stop to think how disturbing her actions were.  Mary was simply loving her Lord, but her actions also sent shock waves through that same controlling establishment.

The Pharisees and other religious leaders had carefully arranged the minutia of Jewish life to honor God, and they were vigilant in protecting their meticulous masterpiece.  Their perfectly formed apples made an impressively symmetrical pyramid within a solid cart.  Jesus upset such carts on purpose.  Mary obliviously knocked them over in her hurry to fall at Jesus’ feet.

Every time Mary’s story is told in Scripture she challenges the accepted status quo.

  • When Jesus and His followers came to dinner, Mary sat at His feet listening to Him teach.  Women belonged in the kitchen (and probably barefoot and pregnant, too!), not at the feet of a rabbi.  Martha named the social faux pas elephant in the room, and Jesus corrected Martha’s correction.  Everyone in the room got hit with apples exploding off the well-ordered cart because of Mary’s devotion to Jesus.
  • After Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus died, their friends consoling Mary assumed that she was going to weep at his tomb when she left abruptly.  Instead, she ran to fall at the feet of her Lord who had asked for her and the gathering crowd saw her devotion.  Through her sobs she cried: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  At first it sounds as if she chastised Him for taking too long, but she deeply moved Jesus’ spirit.  Her words were as much a confession of faith that Jesus was God as they were a distraught elegy of her love for her brother.
  • While Jesus ate with His disciples, Mary anointed his feet with pure nard in a room where only men were welcome with perfume that stank so bad it surely ruined their appetites.  Judas, disgusted by her actions, missed her devotion, complaining of the obvious waste.  Again, Jesus admonished propriety and commended Mary’s actions and intentions.

Mary’s love for Jesus encourages me.  I don’t have to think about the implications of my worship if my heart desires only Him.  Whether others are stirred up to follow Him more closely because of my devotion to Him is His business, not mine.

in everything

in everything i am,

and every breath i take

in everything i do,

and every word i say


everywhere i go,

every single day

in everyone i see,

and every prayer i pray


be the center of it all

let me hear Your gentle call

to give myself

completely fall down before You


i wonder at Your love

that beckons me to stay

in spite of what i ‘ve done

in going my own way


You know my wand’ring heart

is longing to obey

but there’s no good in me,

so at Your feet i lay


be the center of it all

let me hear Your gentle call

to give myself

completely fall down before You

(c) 2004 Cathy Howie


Ready for Sunday

Am I worshiping Jesus everywhere and in all things, or just on Sunday morning?

When others worship Him with forms or postures different than mine, am I encouraged by their devotion?  Or critical?

Oh God, you know the answer to these questions and my heart better than I do.  Thank-you for Mary’s example.  Enable my worship to be pure and fit for the King of kings and Lord of my life.


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