Summary: Was Mary’s annointing of Jesus an extravagant gift or a waste of money?
For Love Of Jesus – John 12: 1 - 8
Intro: As I worked on this sermon, I heard in my head a song from a famous Broadway musical, “What I Did For Love” from The Chorus Line. These are the words sung by Diana and the Chorus: “Kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow. Wish me luck, the same to you. But I can’t regret what I did for love, what I did for love. Look my eyes are dry. The gift was ours to borrow. It’s as if we always knew, and I won’t forget what I did for love, What I did for love. Gone, Love is never gone. As we travel on, Love’s what we’ll remember.”
I. Verse 1 – “6 days before Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany.
A. Bethany was a Jewish village about 2 miles from Jerusalem where travelers often stayed because Jerusalem was crowded and there were no accommodations there.
B. Bethany is also the home of three of Jesus’ closest friends: Martha, Lazarus and Mary. Jesus used their home as a sort of headquarters.
C. This family gives a special dinner for Jesus, perhaps out of gratitude for all he has done for them, especially for the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
II. There are 3 main characters in the passage: Jesus, Mary and Judas. Mary and her gift to Jesus are viewed in different ways by varying people.
A. The gift is an alabaster container of a pint of Nard. Nard is an oil made from the root of a plant grown in India, Nepal and China. It was imported and very costly, 300 denari (a year’s wages then). Nard is still available today. It would cost $328 for the pint Mary used. That’s about $20.50 per ounce. A little pricey even by today’s standards.
B. Mary uses this costly gift in a way that definitely drew attention to herself. It was unlawful for a woman to touch a man or to draw attention to oneself in public. The only women who let their hair down were the harlots. Yet, Mary throws aside convention and restraint and bestows on Jesus this precious, extravagant, loving, sacrificial gift. She didn’t care what people thought. She was going to show her love for Jesus.
C. Surely those present questioned in their mind, if not verbally, what Mary was thinking. “Who does she think she is? --- “This is outrageous!” --- “How dare she be so bold!” --- They may have been offended. --- I have found that those people who are looking for a reason to be offended are usually all too easily able to find it. “You see and find that for which you are looking.”
III. “The house was filled with fragrance.” --- Was it a spontaneous, loving, extravagant gift or a flagrant, foolish public display of outrageous waste?
A. If I had been there I would probably be sneezing, coughing or wheezing. I might even have complained about how Mary’s action had ruined the evening for me. It probably would have been necessary for me to leave.
B. Verse 6 – calls Judas a thief and implies that he really wanted the money for himself, not the poor. I wonder if for Judas, Mary’s actions were a horrible waste of money because: 1) he could have taken the money for himself, or 2) he didn’t think Jesus was worth it.
C. There are those like Judas who think it was a waste. They believe it is a waste to: give so much money to the work of Jesus’ church, to go to a small church with little prestige, to serve God and our community with our talent, our time and our hands.
Conclu: What do you think? Were Mary’s actions an example of loving devotion to be emulated by all Christians? Or were they a waste of time and money because Jesus wasn’t worth it? --- What are you willing to do, --- for the love of Jesus?