Summary: Mary’s anointing the feet of Christ was a true act of worship that was sacrificial, selfless, and significant.

Disclaimer: Source material for this sermon has been gleaned from many different sources. I have attempted to acknowledge these sources whenever possible.


JOHN 12:1-12

Introduction: In Matthew 20:17 – 19 … Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” As he approached the final week of His earthly ministry, Christ stopped at Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem, to fellowship with his friends, Lazarus, Simon, Mary and Martha. While at supper in Simon’s home, Mary anoints the feet of Christ with spikenard a fragrant perfume in preparation for what lay ahead for Christ. Mary apparently had some knowledge, that the death of Christ was near at hand, and she feared, or knew, she might not be able to anoint him when dead; and therefore, as Mark has it, "she hath done what she could; she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying" This anointing was a true act of worship that was sacrificial, selfless, and significant.

I. It was a sacrificial act of worship –

A. John 12:1 – 3 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.

B. Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. comes into the room at which the guests, including Jesus, are reclining enjoying a meal. She has with her an alabaster jar containing about 12 ounces of expensive perfume. The alabaster jar would be a kind of cruet, having a cylindrical form at the top which was sealed with wax to prevent the fragrance of its contents from escaping. Mark tells us that the perfume is pure nard, a perfume which came from India and as he rightly explains was extremely expensive. In fact the value he places on it is 300 denarii, a year’s wages. The average wage being 1 denarius per day. Normally an expensive ointment like nard would have been rationed and used over a longer period. Mark tells us that Mary breaks open the jar and pours the content over the head of Christ.

C. Mary does not hold back in her giving here. There is no reluctance to give all to Christ Jesus. She does not hold back in her worship of Christ.

D. How often do we hold back? How often do we say we will worship God, we will serve Him but we have to keep some time for ourselves? How often do we put a limit on our worship?

E. Mary gave what is expensive and costly to her. She gave generously without thought for self or for the opinion of others around her.

F. Too often we become self-centered in our worship. It becomes what are we getting out of it? What benefit is it to me?

G. Back in the days when doctors made house calls A cold wind was howling and a chilling rain was beating down when the telephone rang in the home of a doctor. The caller said that his wife needed urgent medical attention. The doctor was understanding. "I’ll be glad to come, but my car is being repaired," he said. "Could you come and get me?" There was indignation at the other end of the phone as an angry voice sputtered, "What, in this weather?"

H. Mary did not come to offer Christ cheap worship. The love that Mary had for Jesus was reflected in the way that she offered the best that she had.

I. Some would serve Christ on paper plates while keeping the Wedgewood China for themselves.

J. It is easy for us to offer God cheap worship—sacrifices that cost us nothing. But true worship isn’t cheap. Mary “broke the flask” (Mark 14:3). Nothing would be kept back in reserve.

K. Someone has said: “God uses broken things. Jesus said, “This is my body which is broken for you”. He died of a broken heart; we ought to reciprocate with a broken will. “The sacrifices of God are…a broken and contrite heart…” (Psalm 51:17)

L. God wants your absolute unreserved best.

M. Romans 12:1 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

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