1. The first attribute of urgent adoration is that urgent adoration is unrestrained.
2. The second attribute of urgent adoration is that urgent adoration is impractical.
3. The third attribute of urgent adoration is that urgent adoration is irreproachable.
4. The fourth attribute of urgent adoration is that urgent adoration is unsurpassed.
When was the last time you had your breath taken away? I’m not talking about the last time you got the wind knocked out of you. I’m talking about the last time you saw something so wonderful that it took your breath away. When was the last time? It seems that those times are very few and far between in our lives, doesn’t it? The first time I remember feeling that way was when I was in high school. A group of us guys went backpacking in the Rocky Mountains. I remember feeling that way when I saw the awesomeness of the night sky from our campsite at 13,000 feet elevation. I have still never seen a night sky like that one. A few years later, I got that same feeling when the wedding march sounded and my bride-to-be came around the corner from the hallway of our church and walked into the sanctuary. She absolutely took my breath away. The other times I remember are each time I held one of our babies for the first time. Breathtaking moments. Each of us have had them. You can’t script them. You can’t prepare for them. You can’t make them up. They are virtually indescribable. But they are unmistakably real. As real as those encounters people in the Bible have had with entering the presence of the Lord. You remember what happened when Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6. When he saw the Lord, he was completely undone. Being in the presence of the Lord made him cry out, “Woe is me! For I am undone. Because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For mine eyes have seen the King—the Lord of hosts.” When Ezekiel saw only the “appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord,” What happened to him? He immediately fell on his face. In the book of Revelation, when John saw the risen Jesus in all His heavenly glory, what did he do? He said, “I fell at His feet as dead.” I guess it would be an understatement to say that those were breathtaking moments. Moments of pure, unhindered worship. Moments of adoration of God in all of His Trinitarian glory. But do we have to wait until we see Jesus face to face to have breathtaking moments with Him? Do we have to wait for some time in the future to adore Him? To worship Him? No—as a matter of fact, that is the kind of relationship we are supposed to have with Jesus right now. We talk about worship all the time. But do we really know what worship is? If we’ve never had a breathtaking experience with worshipping Jesus, then we probably don’t. In our passage, Mary had a breathtaking experience with Jesus. From the parallel passage in John 12, we know that the woman in our passage was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This is the same Mary that hung on Jesus’ every word while her sister Martha was busy doing the housework. Mary urgently adored Jesus as her teacher. The housework could wait. She was going to give her full, undivided attention to the Living Word of God. And in our passage, Mary urgently adores Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Nothing was going to stand in the way of Mary whole-heartedly worshipping Jesus. How is our worship this morning? What do we let get in the way of our whole-heartedly worshipping Jesus this morning? What do we have in our lives that is more urgent that adoring the One who created us and bought us with His blood this morning? I want each of us to urgently adore Jesus this morning. But not just this morning. I want us to quit seeing worship as just another thing we casually do in our lives. I want us to see worship for what it is. Urgent, abandoned, whole-hearted, committed adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ. And Mary is a great example of that. So, from her example, we’re going to see four attributes of urgent adoration. The first attribute is found in verse 7:
The first attribute of urgent adoration is that urgent adoration is unrestrained. Picture the scene with me. It’s Saturday night. The night before Palm Sunday. Remember that Matthew doesn’t always list things in chronological order. Many times, he organizes things according to a theme rather than according to time. So, here we are on the Saturday night prior to Palm Sunday. Jesus is with His dear friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. It was only days prior to this that Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave. And here they were sharing a meal together. They were having that meal in the house of another friend. A friend who is only identified as Simon the Leper. Since the man was in his house and preparing a meal, he had obviously been healed of his leprosy. And since there was no cure, it is obvious that Jesus is the one who had healed him. So Jesus was sharing food and fellowship with two men he had brought back from the dead. Lazarus back from physical death, and Simon back from social and emotional death. Imagine the joy! Imagine the wonderful, intimate friendship and fellowship! And walking up behind Jesus is Lazarus’ and Martha’s sister Mary. She’s not involved in the conversation. She’s not laughing and talking with the others. She’s not concerned with the meal. Her focus is only on One. Her focus is only on Her Lord. In her hand, she held a bottle. But this was no ordinary bottle. It was an Alabaster bottle. Alabaster is a beautiful semi-transparent gemstone. It was used to make containers which would hold only the most expensive and precious contents. When the contents were extremely precious, the makers would work the stone in such a way that the only way to empty it would be to break the container. It was the ultimate example of extravagance. This particular bottle contained some of the most exclusive perfume of the day. When Scripture says that it was “very precious” in verse 7, that word carries a dual meaning. It means that the perfume was precious because it was extremely expensive. It cost over a year’s wages. The average annual income in Mercer county is somewhere around $35,000. Can you imagine a $35,000 bottle of perfume? That’s what Mary had. But not only was it precious because it was expensive. The word also carries the meaning of having sentimental value. It would have the same value to her of a priceless heirloom. Something that had been passed down for generations. To steal a line from a MasterCard commercial, it was priceless. Mary fully understood the value of the priceless bottle she held in her hand. But she also fully understood the eternal value of the Savior seated in front of her. So she broke the bottle. She broke the bottle and slowly poured the perfume over Jesus’ head. The powerfully fragrant oil ran down His hair, down His face, and into His beard. It soaked into His garments and dripped down onto His feet. According to John’s account of the same event, Mary then knelt down and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. The wonderfully powerful scent of spikenard perfume filled the house. It permeated the nostrils of all who were there. Mary’s act of adoration to her Savior was unrestrained. The financial cost didn’t restrain her. The emotional cost didn’t restrain her. Worrying about what other people would think didn’t restrain her. Adoring Jesus was her whole focus. Nothing would restrain her from offering Him her best, most costly act of adoration and worship. She didn’t wait. She didn’t think about it. She didn’t stall or put it off. She would not be restrained. She urgently did it. Gave her best. Gave her all. Extravagantly. Lavishly. Costly. Unrestrained. But her act of worship wasn’t appreciated by everybody there. There were those who saw what she did as impractical. And it was gloriously impractical. The first attribute of urgent adoration is that urgent adoration is unrestrained. It is also impractical. Look at verses 8-9
Urgent adoration is impractical. What in the world was that woman thinking! What a waste! Pouring out a $35,000 heirloom on that Man’s head?!? I mean, I like Him and all, but come on! Why not a bottle of Aqua Velva or Old Spice? Do you realize what you could do with $35,000? I mean, Jesus talks about the poor all the time. You could feed a lot of poor people with that kind of money. Jesus’ disciples were there at Simon’s house too. And when they saw what Mary did, verse 8 says they, “had indignation.” They weren’t just calmly suggesting Mary had made a mistake. They were going off. But they were doing it amongst themselves. They were having this little sidebar conversation where they were blasting Mary—behind her back. And guess who was the ringleader? John tells us it was their treasurer. And guess who their treasurer was? Judas. And John goes on to tell us that even though Judas was leading this rumble against Mary, he was skimming money from the till all along. He had an ulterior motive for wanting the money in the till. But the others didn’t have that motive. They just saw it as a tremendous waste. They saw what Mary did as tremendously impractical. But worship is impractical. Urgently displaying complete and total adoration to the Lord Jesus Christ is impractical in the world’s eyes. It is impractical to spend 5 to 10 hours a week in church when life is so busy. It is impractical to spend an hour per day in prayer and Bible study when you’re schedule is so tight you can’t fit anything else in. It is impractical to sacrificially give to the Lord when you live from paycheck to paycheck. Those things are tremendously impractical. But not nearly as impractical as what Mary did. And what Mary did showed Jesus how much she adored Him. How do you show Jesus you adore Him? Do you show Him in ways that cost you? Do you show Him in ways that really matter to you? Or do you show Him the same way that the man you’ve all heard about showed his wife. He said, “I told her I loved her when we got married. If I ever change my mind, I’ll let her know.” Is that how you treat Jesus? I told Him I loved Him when I got saved. That ought to be enough. That’s garbage. Isn’t it about time you showed Jesus how much you adore Him? No matter how impractical it might be? Urgent adoration is unrestrained. It is impractical. It is also irreproachable. Look at verses 10-11.
Urgent adoration is irreproachable. Those disciples were having their little sidebar conversation. But Jesus just butted in. A better translation of verse 10 would be, “Then Jesus, since He was aware of what they were talking about.” It wasn’t like He all of a sudden eavesdropped enough to figure out what was going on. He knew exactly what was going on. And He called them on it. He said, “Why are y’all giving Mary a hard time?” Can’t you just see the look on their faces? They were busted! When I was overseas, I had the most fun with some of the Portuguese nationals that worked on base. I never was fluent in the language, but I picked up enough of it to get the gist of the conversation. I could tell when they would start talking bad about the Americans. And you should have seen the looks on their faces when I would throw in a Portuguese phrase or two just to let them know I knew what they were talking about. I’m sure that was the same look the disciples had on their faces. And I’m sure it surprised them even more that He defended Mary. He told them that what Mary had done was a good thing. Now, when Jesus said this, He wasn’t drawing a contrast between helping the poor and worshipping Him. He wasn’t saying don’t do one in order to do the other. What He was saying was that helping the poor is a good ongoing thing to do in its time and place—worshipping Jesus is a tremendously, urgently, crucially important thing to do. Good works like helping the poor means absolutely nothing if you’re not doing it out of the overflow of a loving, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Otherwise it’s filthy rags. But Mary’s costly, devoted, dedicated, focused, unrestrained, extravagant worship of Jesus was the best work. It was a foundational work. It was an adoring work. Is your love for Jesus irreproachable? Do you adore Jesus in such a way that you don’t care what other people think? Does your extravagant love of Jesus make other people talk behind your back? If they reproach you, do you care? Urgent adoration is irreproachable. It is unrestrained, impractical, irreproachable and it is unsurpassed. Look in verses 12-13
Urgent adoration is unsurpassed. All of the money in Judas’ moneybag had a certain value. Later on, the 30 silver coins that he earned for betraying Jesus had a certain value. The coins that Jesus had Peter pull out of the fish’s mouth to pay their taxes had a certain value. Mary’s alabaster bottle had a certain value. And the spikenard perfume inside had a certain value. But where is that money now? Where are the 30 pieces of silver now? Where is Peter’s tax money now? If Mary had chosen to keep that bottle of perfume to herself. If she had chosen to keep the bottle intact. If she had chosen to keep the perfume inside. If she had kept it on a shelf in the best display case in the house. Where would it be now? The beautiful priceless alabaster bottle would be broken in shards and scattered amongst the millions of pottery shards buried in the Middle Eastern sands of Jerusalem. And the perfume? The costly spikenard perfume worth over a year’s wages would be dust. Even if Mary had chosen to use it on herself. Where would it be? Dust. But instead, she chose to use it in a way that is unsurpassed by any other way. She chose to use it to anoint the body of Jesus. She gave it up in worship of Him. And by doing so, she did something with eternal significance. If you’ve ever had one of those ladies at the mall spray you with perfume, you know how even cheap perfume will stay with you. But the perfume that Mary used must have stayed with Jesus for days. Think about it. The sweet smell must have lingered as He sweat great drops of blood in the garden. The sweet perfume must have mixed with the blood that later ran down His face. Did the soldiers smell its fragrance as they beat Him till the flesh hung off His back? Could they still smell its sweetness as they drove the nail in His feet? As they were casting lots for His garments, did they still carry the aroma of Mary’s act of worship? The fact is, Mary’s adoring act of worship hasn’t ever worn off. The powerful aroma of selflessly extravagant worship is eternal. Why? Because the Christ to whom it is offered is eternal. And any worship we give Him in this life is just a shadow of the worship we will give Him throughout eternity.
So, what about you? How is your worship this morning? Is the totality of your worship summed up with a couple of hymns and prayers on occasional Sunday mornings? Are you too caught up in the so-called practical things of life to have time for worship? If you are, what are you investing in? Practical things that are turning to dust? Practical things that will end up as broken shards buried under time and dust? Or are you ready to invest in eternal things? Are you ready to extravagantly invest yourself in adoring Jesus? Are you ready to lavishly pour yourself out in worshipping Him? The time for worship is now. The time to adore Jesus is urgent. Will you pour your life out to Him today?