Summary: Mary loved Jesus and was willing to pour herself out for Him. She was willing to pour the most valuable possession she had and poured it out on Jesus. Worship is pouring yourself out. It is laying down your life in honor of One who is greater than you.
Illustration from a sermon by Jeff Strite
Timothy Dexter was born in Massachusetts in 1747. At the age of 20 he took his life savings -- a grand total of $9 -- and moved to Newburyport, MA where he met and married a wealthy 31 year old widow.
Fancying himself to be a shrewd businessman, he used his wife’s money to buy stocks because that was what the other businessmen in the community were doing. But he didn’t know which stocks to purchase, so he simply bought the cheapest ones available.
To everyone’s surprise his stocks rose in value and he sold them for a profit.
Apparently Dexter bragged a lot about his good fortune, and the other businessmen in town began to see him as an annoying fool. So they began to amuse themselves by giving him lunatic business tips. One merchant told him the West Indies (where colonization was booming) was sorely in need of warming pans, mittens and Bibles. Dexter was so impressed by what the man told him that he went out and bought more than 40,000 warming pans, 40,000 pairs of mittens, and 40,000 Bibles and shipped them out.
What Dexter didn’t realize that the West Indies were in an extremely hot part of the world and his investment looked extremely foolish to anyone who understood the region. But it just so happened that when his ship docked in the West Indies there was a religious revival taking place, and his Bibles were purchased at a 100% profit.
As if that weren’t enough, a fleet of Russian trading ships was visiting the West Indies and they had their agents immediately buy up the mittens to the last pair.
The warming pans sat idly in the warehouse until some inventive planter discovered that they made ideal skimmers for ladling molasses into vats and so each and every pan was sold for a profit. These incredible sales made Dexter enormously wealthy.
Now, the other merchants were not just annoyed by Dexter... they became extremely jealous of him. So they planned to purposely ruin him by urging him to invest every dime he possessed to ship coal to Newcastle, England. They did such an excellently job of convincing Dexter of the sure-fire benefits of this investment that he hired scores of sailing ships, and filled their holds with all the soft Virginia coal he could find, and sent them off to England.
What Dexter didn’t know was that Newcastle was the center of England’s coal mining industry. THEY DIDN’T NEED COAL! They had plenty of their own.
But instead of being ruined, Dexter’s amazing good luck held. Just before his ships arrived, the mine workers of Newcastle held a massive strike. And with no one to work the mines there was a shortage of coal in the area. When Dexter’s ships arrived, his coal was purchased at enormous profit making him twice as rich as he had been before.
If you want to be like Timothy Dexter of spiritual things, and get amazing, unexpected returns on your spiritual investments, you should devote yourself to the kind of worship Mary gave to Jesus.
The truth is God doesn’t need our money. Ps. 51:16-17 says, "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He does not need our cattle. God does not need our gifts at all. He is much more interested in our hearts.
READ Matthew 26:6- 13
We know from the Gospel of John that Jesus was staying with Mary and Martha the week of Passover. Bethany was only about 3 KMS from Jerusalem, and it was a comfortable walk to go back and forth the week of the festival. Apparently a man in the city of Mary and Martha invited Jesus to dinner, and Mary was invited as well (this story should not be confused with the story in Luke 7, where a Pharisee also named Simon invited Jesus to a meal and a woman of ill repute anointed Jesus with oil--Simon was a common name in those days. Josephus records stories of 12 different Simons in his history - there were at least two Simons among Jesus’ disciples - Simon Peter and Simon the Zealot).
Here we have the story of Simon, the leper who invites Jesus to come over. He lives in Bethany where Mary and Martha are from. Mary was also invited for dinner. As a leper, Simon would not have had the privilege of providing the traditional greeting of an honored guest. They would pour anointing oil over the guest. In fact even though Jesus was invited to Simon’s house, he probably ate separately. That was part of what was required of a leper. So he may have had this responsibility to be distributed. Mary, as a neighbor to Simon, took the responsibility upon herself to anoint Jesus. But she did not want to use Simon’s oil. As David said, "I will not offer to my Lord that which costs me nothing." She brought a package with her from her home to Simon’s. Verse 7 says, "A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table."