Summary: True worship puts focus where it belongs, fulfils God's will, inspires jealousy, enriches everyone around, and anoints the worshipper
John 12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
An Act of Worship
1. True Worship Puts Focus Where it Belongs
a. “You will always have the poor with you. You will not always have me”.
b. If the perfume were sold, Judas may have used some of the money for charity. But in the process he would have stolen from God what belongs to Him. It is possible to do great acts of charity without loving God. Paul said though I give all I have to the poor and even if I give my body to be burned, if I don’t have love it profits me nothing.
c. Judas had other interests in mind as well-to profit from the Prophet. He wanted to use charity as an excuse to use God’s resources for himself.
2. True Worship Fulfills God’s Will “it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial”
a. Pure Nard probably came from these northern mountains of India. Importing this precious ointment 3,000 km from India to Jerusalem by caravan would have taken months. The expense of the ointment’s production and transport made it very valuable.
b. Three hundred denarii, or day’s wages, means this was worth as much as a person might expect to make in a year. It was possibly the most valuable single thing in Mary & Martha & Lazarus’ household.
c. Mary may have been saving this ointment as a dowry. The family would have had their own plans for such an investment. But God knew the purpose for its presence in their home. It was preparation for the burial of Jesus. No greater purpose has ever graced an anointing oil. As God prepared Moses in the courts of Egypt and on the back side of the wilderness of Sin so he could be an instrument of deliverance to the Israeli slaves, as He prepared a great fish to provide submarine transport for the prophet Jonah, as He prepared Paul at the feet of Gamaliel and later through twelve years of obscurity in Tarsus so he could build the early Gentile church, God prepared an anointing oil for His Son’s burial. Our lives become instruments of worship when they are submitted to the LORD’s will.
3. True Worship Inspires Jealousy in those with mixed motivations.
a. Judas resented Mary’s love for Jesus.
b. The Jews and the Romans hated and persecuted and killed those who loved Jesus.
c. Today militants of various religious and political persuasions hate and kill those who love Jesus. Even in the Church some will be jealous of you if you love Jesus with all you are and all you have, if you worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Yet, as Mary, we must we must continue worshipping-Jesus will direct them to leave us alone.
4. True Worship Enriches Everyone Around
a. “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”. When we worship the Savior in Spirit and in Truth everyone around us is lifted by the experience.
b. There is no more powerful form of evangelism than a group of people from varied backgrounds worshipping God. When someone who doesn’t know God comes into a fellowship and sees people dressed in different clothes, from different financial situations and educational backgrounds and social groups coming together, worshipping and loving the One God, the visitor is transformed by the experience.
c. One time I was on tour with a singing group in Hungary. We were on our way back to a Youth Hostel from a concert in Budapest. Some of the audience wanted to ride back with us, and we began to sing together. Someone began singing “God is so good”. Everyone sang in his own language. Some sang in German, some in French, some in Hungarian. I was singing in English. It seemed as if the bus we were travelling in became filled with a fragrance of worship. We were all transported to that realm where the angles worship God continually. We were, for a moment, united-one. True worship has the power to transform everyone within range of the fragrance. It lifts our souls.