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Summary: This message investigates the act of Mary's washing of Jesus' feet to show what an awesome act of worship it was, and the significance of it.

All For The Love Of Jesus

By Rev. Donnie L. Martin

Text: John 12:1-9

I. AN ACT OF SACRIFICE

A. Mary Expended Great Cost.

B. Mary Experienced Grievous Criticism.

II. AN ACT OF SUBMISSIVENESS

A. Mary Demonstrated Great Humility.

B. Mary Deemed Jesus Worthy Of Great Honor.

III. AN ACT OF SYMBOLISM

A. It Symbolized Mary’s Sincere Love.

B. It Symbolized The Master’s Sacrificial Life.

IV. AN ACT OF SIGNIFICANCE

Intro: Recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, is a very beautiful and touching story of a woman who, out of love and appreciation for Jesus, anointed Him with a very precious and aromatic ointment. The woman who performed this loving act was none other than Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha of Bethany, who were close friends of Jesus.

Drawing from my summation of all three gospel accounts, Simon, a former leper, invited Jesus and His disciples, along with Lazarus, Martha and Mary, to a supper in Jesus’ honor. As a point of interest, let me mention that to eat with an unhealed leper, would have rendered all the participants ceremonially unclean. So don’t let the title “Simon the Leper” confuse you. The Great Physician had healed this man.

We’re not told what the relationship was between Lazarus, his sisters, and Simon. But their closeness is implied by the fact that Martha helped serve the meal in Simon’s house.

Simon and Lazarus definitely had things in common, since both of them had experienced the miraculous power of Christ in their lives: Simon having been healed of leprosy (cf. Mark 1:40), and Lazarus having been raised from the dead (cf. John 11: 38-44). This may have been the reason for the meal in the first place.

Characteristic of Martha, she jumped right in to help serve the meal. This brings out a distinct contrast between Martha and Mary. Martha is always depicted as working for Jesus, while Mary is always depicted as worshiping Jesus. To put this another way: Martha labored for Jesus, while Mary listened to Jesus. Both qualities are important in the Christian life.

At some point while Jesus was reclining at the table, Mary brought in a flask containing a precious ointment, and anointed His head and feet. However, John’s gospel, attempting to focus on the loving humility of Mary’s act, only mentions the anointing of Christ’s feet.

This was an act of sincere love and appreciation on Mary’s part. But it wasn’t only an act of appreciation. According to Jesus, this was also an act done in anticipation. Mary had apparently understood what the disciples had not. Jesus was about to die for the sins of the world.

There are some great truths to be learned from Mary’s loving act of worship. Let’s search them out together.

Theme: The anointing of Jesus by Mary, was:

I. AN ACT OF SACRIFICE

A. Mary Expended Great Cost.

John 12:3a “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus…

…………………………………………………………..

5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?”

NOTE: [1] Though he wasn’t really concerned about the poor, as he’d implied, Judas said that this ointment could have been sold for “three hundred pence;” actually three hundred denarii (v.5). That amounts to about 60 USD. One commentator notes: “The value of the perfume was a year’s wages (lit., “300 denarii”), perhaps a lifetime of savings.”1

[2] This ointment was expensive because it was “Oil from a plant grown in northern India, very costly as an import into Palestine.”2

[3] One thing that needs to be noted here is the fact that Mary, in love, gave her very best for Jesus. The monetary size of Mary’s gift to Jesus is not the issue here; it’s the sacrifice that was involved. Thomas Paine once said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: ‘Tis dearness only that gives everything its value.’”3

B. Mary Experienced Grievous Criticism.

1. Judas, along with the other disciples, said that this was a great waste.

Matt. 26:8 “But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste.

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.”

NOTE: Judging from the separate accounts given in the gospels, my conclusion was that Judas Iscariot probably got the criticism started (John 12:4-5), and the rest of the disciples joined in.

2. Jesus said that what Mary had done was a good work.

Matt. 26:10b “…Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.”

NOTE: One thing that can be gleaned from the criticism surrounding Mary’s act of worship and devotion to Jesus is that we need not concern ourselves with the criticism of others, as long as our Lord approves. If we have His approval, that’s all that matters. We simply need to keep serving Him.

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