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  • Writer's pictureDr. Michael L. Smith

Sitting with Jesus

Updated: Apr 5

Many books, songs, and sermons have been written and preached about Mary worshipping at the feet of Jesus. The story is recorded in Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13 but neither of those two accounts mentions Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary. The death and resurrection of Lazarus is exclusive to the Gospel of John. "Then Jesus six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made him a supper, and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then took Mary a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always" (John 12:1-11).

I have read the story of Lazarus many times but today I noticed something I had never seen before. While Martha was serving the Lord, her sister Mary was worshipping the Lord but the scripture states that their brother Lazarus "was one of them that sat" with Jesus. The death and resurrection of Lazarus is a beautiful illustration of our spiritual death and resurrection. "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others, but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:1-6).

Did you get that? We are sitting with Christ in heavenly places! While Martha and Mary were serving and worshipping the Lord their brother Lazarus was sitting with Jesus! He had ceased from his works and entered His rest. The rest of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus! He is our Sabbath (Sabbatismos) rest!

Resting in Christ requires entering the third dimension, the Most Holy Place which is the dwelling place of the Most High God. We see this spiritual truth laid out beautifully in the tabernacle built by Moses which was called the Tabernacle of Meeting because there the Lord "will meet you to speak with you" (Exodus 29:42-43). It was also called the Tent of the Testimony because it is where the priest kept the word of God (See Numbers 9:15). God's tabernacle or "dwelt" with His people in the Tent of the Testimony. It is a vivid picture of Christ "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

There are many spiritual truths about Christ that we could glean from the Tent of the Testimony. From the construction and arrangement of the furniture to the colors of the curtains down to the rings, staves, shovels, pans, and the many other different types of utensils used. Even the animals God selected and the sacrifices themselves teach us many aspects about the crucifixion of Christ but I would like to show how these spiritual truths reveal the progressive revelation of God. The design and details of the tabernacle teach us more than just the physical layout of a tent. When viewed in the spirit, we can see a spiritual position and pattern we can follow to receive deeper revelation from God.

As soon as the priest entered the tent they were confronted with a huge brass altar where they served the Lord and offered blood sacrifices. The altar is a vivid picture of the foot of the cross. It was the first place where blood was shed. Brass is used several times in scripture as a symbol of God's judgment (Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy 28:23) and is seen in the Book of Revelation about Christ; "His feet were like fine brass as if refined in a furnace" (Revelation 1:15).

The priest also performed various types of washings and cleansing at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Everything the priest did at the entrance of the Tabernacle signified sacrifice, salvation, and sanctification. Because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” and “by one Spirit we were all baptized (washed) into one body" which "leads to sanctification and eternal life" (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:22). The service of the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle typifies our initial salvation experience. This is the dimension Martha was operating.

We never see Martha worshiping at the feet of Jesus like her sister Mary or sitting at the table with Jesus like her brother Lazarus. On the contrary, every time we see Martha in scripture she is serving the Lord. "Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

Martha received Jesus into her home and once again we see that she was busy serving the Lord but her sister Mary sat at Jesus' feet and "heard his word." When Martha saw that Mary had left her to serve the Lord alone she asked Jesus, "Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?" Have you ever felt like you were the only person serving the Lord in your house?

We all went through similar experiences as Martha when we first got saved. We all were excited that the Lord had come into our home and we became "distracted with much serving." We all felt obligated to do something for the Lord when He saved us as a natural response to the love He demonstrated for us on the cross. We didn't see or understand worship or the "deeper" things of God. Like Martha, we wanted everybody in our home to serve the Lord.

Now let us look into the second dimension, the Holy Place. Here several pieces of furniture are located including the Golden Lampstand, the Table of Showbread, and the Altar of Incense but no chairs were found in the Holy Place for the priest to sit because this room was designed for service and worship.

Moreover, there also were no windows in the tabernacle. The Golden Lampstand was the only light found inside. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).

The Golden Lampstand was made from one piece of beaten gold which depicts our need for brokenness before our light can shine in this dark world. Mark reveals this breaking process by recording the method Mary used to extract the oil "And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head" (Mark 14:3 NKVJ). The alabaster box, like our outer man, had to be broken before the oil, which is a picture of the Holy Spirit, could be released. Many Christians value their outward man typified by the alabaster box, as being more valuable than their inner man but the treasure is in the earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7). No one will see the treasure (Spirit of Christ) if the earthen vessel (our flesh) is not broken.

The priest was commanded by God to put fresh oil in the Golden Lampstand and fresh bread on the Table of Showbread daily which intimates our need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to hear a fresh Word from God every day. The priest also had to burn incense in the morning and in the evening which represents our daily prayer (Leviticus 24:1-7; Revelation 8:3-4). Every duty the priest performed in the Holy Place was an act of service and worship. They involved both flesh and spirit. This is the dimension Mary was operating in.

Mary served and worshiped the Lord. Several times in scripture we see her worshipping at the feet of Jesus and serving Him by wiping His feet with her hair. This act is symbolic of serving the body of Christ: "Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil" (Luke 7: 36-38). We are commanded to serve and worship Christ but we must go beyond that. We must move into the third dimension.

The number three reveals the triune nature of God. Father, Son, Holy Spirit; The Way, The Truth, and The Life; In Him we live, move, and have our being; Everything we receive in our spirit, soul, and body; Is a result of His death, burial, and resurrection; When we ask, seek and knock; We receive gifts, administrations and operations; Some thirty, some sixty and some one hundred fold; First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn; For the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; Therefore, let us deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

There are many more three-dimensional scriptures in the word of God we could review but let us now turn our attention to the third dimension in the Tabernacle, The Most Holy Place. No fires or lamps were burning inside of this room "for the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Revelation 21:23).

In the center of The Most Holy Place is where The Ark of the Covenant was located. The Ark was the most sacred piece of furniture in the Tabernacle because it symbolized God's presence. The Ark of the Covenant was a beautiful rectangular-shaped golden box that had a solid gold cover called The Mercy Seat. Inside the Ark, located directly under the Mercy Seat, were two stones with the Ten Commandments engraved on them, a jar of Manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. Each of these items represents the sin Israel committed in the wilderness (Exodus 16:1-36; Exodus 32:1-35; and Numbers 16:1-17:11). God commanded Moses to place each of these items inside the Ark under the Mercy Seat. Even the Law which is typified by the Ten Commandments. This is a vivid picture of God covering the sins of His people in Christ, The true Ark of the Covenant, with His Mercy.

The Mercy Seat was decorated with a gold crown around the edges and two gold Cherubim on the top which had their wings stretched out over The Mercy Seat. "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two Cherubim which are on the Ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel" (Exodus 25:22). Nobody can speak or come to God except through Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

The Ark of the Covenant also had four gold rings, one located on each corner. Gold which symbolizes the deity of Christ, was visible all over The Most Holy Place and distinguished it as the dwelling place of The Most High God. "For in Christ dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).

In the first dimension, everything was brass which represented God's judgment on the sin of man. In the second dimension, the furniture was made of wood overlaid with gold which represents the service of man as he serves God through the anointing of Christ but as we enter the third dimension, man ceases from his works and enters the rest of the Lord. The third dimension represents the Sabbath rest of man. This is the dimension Lazarus was operating. "Now a great many Jews knew that He was there, and they came not, for Jesus sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because, on account of him, many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus" (John 12:9-11 NKJV).

The religious leaders did not care if Martha served the Lord. They didn't even care if Mary worshipped the Lord. They only wanted to stop Lazarus from resting in the finished work of the Lord. Oh, I pray followers of Christ receive this revelation today!

Like the Pharisees and Sadducees who refused to put their faith in Christ and cease their own works, many religious leaders today hinder Christians from resting in the finished work of Christ by preaching the law and teaching them to tithe and keep the Sabbath. The Apostle Paul called the law “the ministry of death" and said ministers who teach the law minds have been blinded and covered with a veil.

When comparing himself with those who teach the law Paul said: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. To this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:5-17).

Let us "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and not be tangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). As New Covenant believers, we are commanded to labor to enter into the rest of God. “For he who has entered into His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Hebrews 4:10). May the Lord open the eyes of His people so they may see and sit at the table with Jesus!

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