Summary: This precious story tells us what is expected in pure worship of our King.
• During the tenure of the great orator Henry Ward Beecher, a visiting minister (Beecher's brother) once substituted for the popular pastor. A large audience had already assembled to hear Beecher, and when the substitute pastor stepped into the pulpit, several disappointed listeners began to move toward the exits.
• That's when the minister stood and said loudly, "All who have come here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now withdraw from the church. All who have come to worship God keep your seats!"
Mar 14:1 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him,
Mar 14:2 for they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people."
Mar 14:3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
Mar 14:4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that?
Mar 14:5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her.
Mar 14:6 But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
Mar 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.
Mar 14:8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.
• Where Mark felt it unnecessary for the Gentile readers to know who this woman was, Matthew identifies this woman as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
• This is at least the second time Jesus was so anointed, the first time, earlier in Jesus’ ministry, it was in the house of a Pharisee.
• The worshipper was a prostitute from the city and she washed Jesus’ feet, not His head.
• The timing of this event is important to Mark and the Gentiles because of the messages God gives us through it.
• Two days before the Passover and its related feast, Jesus goes into the house of an individual Jesus healed.
• He was known as Simon the Leper, so our imaginations reveal to us from what Simon was healed.
• This shows that he was thankful and was expressing gratitude for his healing.
• So worship was in place here in another way.
• John tells us that Martha was serving and Lazarus was in attendance with the disciples (John 12:1-11)
• During the meal, Mary enters.
• She is bringing a valuable box of nard (let’s just call it an aromatic oil from a plant found in India).
• She breaks the alabaster box. Some say she broke the seal, while others say that to remove the box had to be cracked open like an egg.
• She poured the costly ointment, or perfume, onto Jesus hair, or head.
• It was an act of devotion and selfless sacrifice, as the text tells us that the Nard was valued at a years wage.
• Some writers tell us where the disagreement started, but Mark simply says that “some” frowned upon the act.
• “This was a waste of resources,” they said. “The assets of this worship could have been used to accomplish much more that what just happened.”
• Two things come to my mind when I read this.
• First, I have heard this complaint about expenditures that are reaching people.
• This is often a criticism of youth and children’s ministries.
• I heard one complainer in years past call children’s and youth ministries “parasites on the Church.”
• They cost so much money but the children and youth don’t give enough to support the ministries.
• But the passage in Matthew 19:14 that we recall as saying, “suffer not the little children but let them come unto Me,” can be translated, “Don’t prevent them from coming to Me, but send them to me.”
• Let me proceed.
• The other thing that comes to my mind besides having heard this said about Church finances, is that I have said such things.
• It is easy for us to evaluate ministries based upon our viewpoint and forget that God usually has a different, wiser perspective than ours.
• Let’s just all learn from one great lesson from this passage.
• When it comes to Church finances and God’s money, we need to seek His heart, not our natural tendencies, not our opinions, not our insights, not our logic or reasoning.