Summary: Mary’s worship gave her very best to Jesus.
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While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly. "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
Mark 14:3-9 (NIV)
There is another similar incident recorded in Luke 7, but that event happened earlier when Jesus was still in Galilee. This same event recorded in Matthew 26 and John 12. From those passages we learn some other facts about this encounter:
• Although we don’t know anything else about Simon the Leper, we know that this dinner was given in honor of Jesus and that Martha was serving and Lazarus was reclining at the table with Jesus. Some Bible scholars therefore believe that Simon the Leper may have been the father of Lazarus. In any case, we know that Simon would have had to have been healed from his leprosy in order to be hosting a dinner. Perhaps Jesus had healed him.
• The dinner takes place 6 days before the Passover, probably on the Sabbath right before Jesus enters into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the next day.
• The woman is Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha
• Judas Iscariot, who was the treasurer for the disciples, is the one who leads the outcry against Mary’s actions. John makes it clear that his motivation is purely personal, since he had a habit of helping himself to some of the funds in the treasury.
• John writes that Mary pours the perfume on Jesus’ feet and then she let down her hair and wiped his feet with her hair. What probably happened was there was so much perfume that it flowed al the way from Jesus’ head down to his feet.
• John also records that the aroma of the perfume filled the house.
There were several kinds of worship going on at that meal:
• Martha served
• Simon and Lazarus fellowshipped with Jesus
• Mary’s was definitely the most extravagant
Extravagant worship requires my:
1. Total trust
• Mary understood what Jesus was about to do and she wanted to express her utmost love.
• Why was Mary the only one there who understood the person and work of Jesus?
Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.
Luke 10:39 (NLT)
• The more Mary spent time with Jesus, the more she was convinced of his true worth and her utter unworthiness.
• Disciples became indignant because they did not understand the person and work of Jesus – they viewed ministry as a business to be financed, not a Savior to be loved.
• Worship is not a matter of me coming to give something of my own so that God will be impressed with me. It is a matter of me being so impressed with God that I bring everything I have to him as an expression of his worth.
2. Immediate involvement
A young soldier and his commanding officer got on a train together. The only available seats were across from an attractive young woman who was traveling with her grandmother. As they engaged in pleasant conversation, the soldier and the young woman kept eyeing one another; the attraction was obviously mutual. Suddenly the train went into a tunnel and the car became pitch black. Immediately two sounds were heard: the "smack" of a kiss, and the "whack" of a slap across the face. The grandmother thought "I can’t believe he kissed my granddaughter, but I’m glad she gave him the slap he deserved." The commanding officer thought, "I don’t blame the boy for kissing the girl, but it’s a shame that she missed his face and hit me instead." The young girl thought, "I’m glad he kissed me, but I wish my grandmother hadn’t slapped him for doing it." And as the train broke into the sunlight, the soldier could not wipe the smile of his face. He had just seized the opportunity to kiss a pretty girl and slap his commanding officer and had gotten away with both!