Expensive worship, Mark 14:3-6
August 25, 2002
Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ
Flip Wilson was a popular comedian several years ago, and one of his characters was a Preacher at the “What’s Happening Now Church.” Flip did a Skit where he told about this preacher. He’d shout out:
"IF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO SERVE GOD IT’S GOT TO GET DOWN ON ITS KNEES AND CRAWL!!!"
And the audience yelled back "Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl!
"AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO CRAWL, IT’S GOT TO GET UP
ON ITS FEET AND WALK!!!"
"Make it walk preacher, make it walk" the audience moaned.
AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO WALK ITS GOT BEGIN TO LEARN TO RUN!!!"
"Make it run, preacher, make it run!"
"AND IN ORDER TO RUN, ITS GOT REACH DEEP DOWN INTO POCKETS AND LEARN TO GIVE!!!"
(pause) "Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl."
Church is very expensive.
You may have looked around our building and noticed that we are not a flashy church. We are not a rich church. We don’t have golden offering baskets, we don’t have a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. We don’t dry our hands on velvet towels. We have been very prudent with the gifts that have been given to the church.
And from someone who is always trying to stretch our area of ministry, what we do here makes sense. But let me ask you this. What would be your reaction if someone Bought all of our elders and deacons brand new $2000 Armani suits? What would you think if someone decided to buy the minister a brand new Cadillac? Well I can tell you what my reaction would be. It’s an extravagance. I don’t need a Cadillac when we are going to hire a youth minister. I don’t need a new car when we need to replace the roof on this building. We could use some more office help. There are other practical ways to spend the money.
Now let me say to those of you who are planning on buying me a new car. I do like the Cadillac Deville.
Our story today is pretty much the same as the illustration that I just gave you. But our story is not just about money. It’s about how people worship with their money.
But it also goes way beyond that it’s not just money, in fact this woman does not even give a contribution here. She just shows up to worship, she brings something of value, but more importantly she brings herself.
Our text today is Mark 14:3-6. and here is what I love about this text.
This woman comes to worship. She heard that Jesus was eating at a house and came to worship. See worship simply means giving worth to God.
It does not matter where or when just as long as you are pouring yourself out in worship. Jesus mat a woman at a well and she was trying to avoid a personal confrontation with Jesus and she asked him “you are a prophet where should my people worship” and Jesus’ response to her is that she “must worship in Spirit and in truth”
That means it does not matter when. It does not matter if you come to a Wednesday worship or an evening worship. It does not matter if you come to a Traditional worship or a contemporary worship.
In the words of doctor Seuss it does not matter if its’ in the rain, on a train, or on a plain. You can worship on in a box with a fox just as long as you cry out instead of the rocks. You can worship on land or at sea, you can worship from a tree just don’t be afraid to get on your knees.
But I want you to catch this next part. The only thing that matters is that you worship with your spirit and truthfully. That you do it honestly.
Max had an excellent communion meditation last week. I hope you were here to listen to the message of God last week but if you chose not to be here for one reason or another, I’ll tell you what I got out of it.
When you come into this place you are here to worship God. We are here to commune with Christ. Pouring ourselves out in worship is such a selfless act that we have no room for ourselves in it. Do I have a preference in style of worship? Yes. But that does not stop me from worshiping in a setting that is not my preference. Because Worship is more important than me. In fact that the whole point of worship. What kind of person says I am going to worship God because He is Great, then decides not to participate because of preference?
Someone who does not grasp the concept of worship. Worship is the adoration of God for his own sake. And He is to be praised.
So does God prefer one style over another? Does he prefer one time over another? NO!! The most important thing to God is the sincerity of the worshipers.
I Have grown to love this text this week because they combine all of the hard stuff to talk about in today’s church. Money and worship.
Mark 14:3-6 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. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly. 6 "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
After being away on business, Tim thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift.
"How about some perfume?" he asked the cosmetics clerk.
She showed him a bottle costing $50.00.
"That’s a bit much," said Tim, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00.
"That’s still quite a bit," Tim complained.
Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle.
"What I mean," said Tim, "is I’d like to see something really cheap."
The clerk handed him a mirror
In this text we see Jesus doing ministry like he usually does when this woman comes onto the scene.
Now there are a couple of things about this text that I want to clear up.
An alabaster jar probably would have been worth more than the perfume inside of it. In fact in another text the disciples say this could have been sold for 300 denarius’s. In this text they say it could be sold for more than a year’s wages.
Today 300 denarius’s equals just under $15,000 and the Jar would have been worth around $15, 000 also
In effect this woman just blew $30,000 on making Jesus smell better.
Now to those conservatives like me this is a tremendous waste. She had to break the Jar. If she would have just kept the Jar in tact she could have sold that and financed the next mission trip Jesus took.
But she didn’t and because she didn’t she was in effect saying. “All of this is to bless God” People this is her act of worship.
By breaking the jar she was offering pure blessing.
God this perfume is not for anyone but you. What a great spirit to worship with. God when we come in today we come in to worship you. Lord when we pour ourselves out in worship it’s not for anyone’s benefit but yours.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
Lord when we sing to you it’s not for anybody but you. We are not here to impress anyone with our social agenda. We are not here to gloat about our recent fortune. God some of us here run very successful perfume factories and we come here today to bless you. We are not here to show off wealth or gain votes. God we are here today and we want to break our jars and anoint your head.
You know what the Bible says about worship. That if we don’t do it then the earth will. That if we do not praise God for his Greatness then the Rocks will cry out. Well I don’t know about you but I am not about to let the rocks cry out in my place. As long as I’m alive I’ll glorify His holy name.
You want to know what’s so interesting about worship? It is the one thing that you can do for God that he can’t do on his own.
And somehow He is enriched by our praise. How many of you believe that? Because sometimes we take God for granted we forget that he has a personality. We know that he is complete, but the only thing God needs from us is Honest worship. Selfless worship. Powerful worship that blesses Him.
I have seen the difference. I have noticed first hand that when people pour themselves out in worship, they get more out of the message. Offering means more. Communion is truly a time of connection and not a time to get the gum.
The heart of worship means that we come to Bless God. We come to pour our perfume on His head.
See that’s what this text is about. It’s not as much about giving as much as it is about blessing God and worshiping Him.
But there is something that happens in this text. Jesus followers become indignant. You know what I realized as I read this text?
They are complaining about the money. But it’s not about the money.
These people had seen Jesus ministry. They knew that God provided for them. And for them it was more about going through the motions than worship.
Here’s what I realized. These people were so caught up with the man of Jesus that they forgot that he was the Son of God. They forgot that this was God in the flesh.
I have been there. Have you? I have gotten so wrapped up in the work of the church that when we sing on Sunday morning it’s old hat. It’s routine, and I stop thinking about it. Worship becomes habit. That’s where this woman offers a breath of fresh air to Jesus. But for some of us breaking out of a habit is painful and hard. For some that fresh air seems like an ugly smog and it threatens to change the way we do church.
These followers needed to be reminded that worship is not meaningless methodology but rather is beautiful blessings.
Here’s the other thing I realized about the followers. It had been a while since they worshiped truthfully. Because people who worship truthfully do not rebuke others when they come in and offer pure blessings of worship.
They had allowed their service to blind them from the real purpose.
Sometimes we get so involved that we forget to sharpen that saw.
One of my favorite books is: 7 habits of highly effective people by Steven Covey in that book he says.
“Suppose you came upon someone in the woods working to saw down a tree. They are exhausted from working for hours. You suggest they take a break to sharpen the saw. They might reply, " I didn’t have time to sharpen the saw, I’m busy sawing”
Worship should be a way or renewing your spirit. If you leave here on after worship and feel confused and drained then I would suggest taking a long look at your worship experience.
In worship we bless God but there is something else that happens to us. We all have a need to worship God with no barriers. So when that is fulfilled. When we pour it all out in worship something happens to us. We walk home with a skip in our step.
Worship ought to make you feel spiritually alive. It should give you strength to serve. It should bring out your creative side. It should bring out your best.
In one episode of the Simpson’s the family is elated to get home from church and they are all saying “I’m glad that’s over” Marge says you know church should make you feel better about your life and Homer says “it should but it doesn’t”
I know a lot of people who feel that way because they have never come just for the purpose of blessing God. When we worship wholeheartedly though something happens inside us. We serve out of an extension of our worship.
There is bound to be some complaining from people who just forgot why they are here. But God can renew a spirit that wants to make it right.
Through all of the could of and would of by the disciples Jesus turns to them and says knock it off.
In another version of this story Jesus says you people wouldn’t even bring be water so I could wash my dirty feet and this woman wets my feet with her tears.
He says you might just learn a thing or two about what worship is if you took her example.
Worship is expensive. It’s going to cost you something. But the most expensive thing It’s going to cost you is yourself.
Perhaps there are some here today who have not really worshiped in a long time. Or it may be that your worship is not enough. You may have, like Cain brought an offering that is not acceptable and you leave with bitterness, frustration and fear.
Like God said to Cain, if you do what is right you will be accepted. If you need to offer an acceptable sacrifice today we encourage you to get it right with God.
Or you mighty be someone who has poured it out this morning and the Lord is tugging on your heart to spend a lifetime with Him instead of just an hour on Sunday.
If you need to repent and lay it all in Jesus’ hands this morning we invite you to come as we stand together and sing