Summary: Number 36 in an on-going sermon series from the Gospel of John. In this sermon we look at true worship, and how true worship appears foolishly costly to the worldly minded, but to Christians there is no cost too high.
Costly Worship (John Part 36)
Text: John 12:1-8
Well it’s good to see you all this morning. I hope you are excited to be gathered with the Church. Today I’m going to do something I’ve never done as your pastor… and I think I’ve only done one other time in the 21 years I’ve been a pastor… I’m going to preach about money. I typically don’t do that because the Bible is pretty clear, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (That’s Matthew 6:21). Meaning we display what we love, worship, and adore, by what we give our money and treasures too. If you love Jesus, and His Church, the ministries of the Church, the preaching of the Word and feeding of your soul, you’re going to give. It’s not some deep theological mystery. It’s just “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So… I guess when you get right down to it, this sermon isn’t really going to be about money, it’s about worship. With that in mind, take your Bible and open it up to the Gospel of John, chapter 12 (READ John 12:1-8).
So; this is a little while after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and He’s come back into the area of Bethany because Passover is about to start. Our text tells us, that it’s going to happen in six days. What that means is that we are getting close to the end of Jesus life… in John’s Gospel, John focuses roughly half of his Gospel account hitting the high points of the first 3 years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and then he focuses the last half of his Gospel, on the final week of Jesus’ life… and this is where he starts that, right here in chapter 12. So we’re six days before Passover, just a few days before the Triumphal Entry, and then of course Jesus will be betrayed by Judas, and crucified by the mobs. And while He’s in Bethany, He gets invited to dinner.
Now, in reading John’s account, you might think that Jesus is again at Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus’ house, but John never actually says that. Verse 2 says, “So they gave a dinner for Him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with Him at the table.” But it doesn’t say whose house they were in… we have to turn to Mark 14:3-9 to find that out, so let’s go ahead and do that (READ Mark 14:3-9)… So there we have it… “Bob’s your uncle!” No… Jesus is in Bethany; He’s been invited to eat at Simon’s house. And Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are all there with Him, along with the disciples. Who is Simon the leper? Well some people say that he was Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ father. Some people say that he was the one out of the ten lepers who gave thanks after he had been healed. One thing we do know is that he was not Simon the Pharisee that we read about in Luke 7… and the Mary here in our text is not Mary Magdalene from Luke 7… so the events depicted here in John and in Mark are not the same events in Luke 7. Two different occasions, two different events.
Here’s what we do know: Simon the Leper would have been someone who was well known to the people of the region, and of that time period, but his identity has been lost to us today. We can pick up little clues here and there, but we can’t say with certainty who he was. And the reason for that is because he’s not the focus of this story. He’s just providing the setting for it all to take place. And so… Jesus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Simon the Leper, and the Disciples are all at this home, they are eating, and it’s six days before Passover – that’s what we need to know here! Jesus, and the other men are all reclining at the table, and in comes Mary with an alabaster flask of expensive ointment of pure nard. She breaks the flask of alabaster, and pours the pure nard on Jesus’ head and on His feet.
Now to us, that might seem like the weirdest thing ever. I don’t want someone coming up and pouring stuff on me… even if it is expensive perfume or cologne, or ointment. Just don’t do that ok! It’s uninvited; it’s unwanted. Just don’t. Second I’d probably be thinking, “Man, do I stink or what? Do I smell so bad that you have to cover it up with this ointment?” And granted, sometimes, my feet can really get sweaty, and start reeking, but I still don’t want someone pouring stuff all over me. So to us, this seems strange and unusual. It’s odd to us. But again, this isn’t in our time and place and culture.