Summary: Mary anoints Jesus at Bethany.
The Shortest Sermon I’ve Ever Preached
April 1, 2000
I am sure many of you were relieved when you saw my sermon title this morning, The Shortest Sermon I’ve Ever Preached. I even heard someone say, “Boy ! Are we in for a treat today ! We’re about to hear the shortest sermon he’s ever preached ! On such a nice day too ! Aren’t we lucky !” Well, there’s only one thing that I can say about my sermon title this morning, April Fool’s ! Oh well, someone had to do it to you and it mine as well have been me.
Now the real title of my sermon this morning is, Selective Hearing, which I am sure many of us can relate to. Isn’t it odd how some people only hear part of what you say. Some people only hear what they want to hear and then there are others who hear you say one thing, and interpret it as something entirely different.
I heard a story the other day about a hobo who walked up to the front door of a big farmhouse, and knocked on the door until the owner answered. The hobo said, “Sir, could I please have something to eat ? I haven’t had a meal in days.” The well-to-do owner of the house said, “I have made my fortune
in the world by never giving anything away for free. If you go around to the back of the house, you’ll fine a fresh gallon of paint and a clean brush. Paint my porch and I’ll give you a good meal.”
The hobo headed off to the back of the house. About an hour later he knocked on the front door. The homeowner was surprised. “You’re finished already? That was quick! Come on in and sit down, and I’ll have the cook bring you a meal.” “Thank you, sir!” the hobo said. “I must tell you though, you really don’t know your cars. That’s not a Porch back there. It’s a BMW."
Yes, sometimes people just don’t understand clearly, and that is the case with this morning’s Scripture passage. Judas didn’t understand why Mary was wasting the expensive perfume with the anointing of Jesus at Bethany. Jesus had to explain it to him.
In order to understand this passage better, we need to take a look at what had happened just prior to Jesus showing up at Mary and Martha’s house.
About a week or so prior to this event, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. Now the Jews of the area had heard about this miraculous miracle, and as you can imagine it caused quite the stir among them. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was really putting the final nail in his own coffin.
The Jewish leaders of the area called an emergency meeting. They discussed the latest in a series of events that had caused such an upset in the religious community. And at the center of it all was Jesus. This man from Nazareth, who had been going around the area creating all sorts of havoc. They asked themselves how much longer could they let this man upset their religious applecart.
He was going around healing individuals by the hundreds, casting out demons, feeding hoards of people and performing countless miracles. And now this ! This time he’d gone and done it ! He raised someone from the dead ! They agreed that they had to put a stop to this. They said before they know it, all of their people would be following him, and how long would it be before the Roman’s noticed all this.
Once the Romans got involved, they would all be in trouble. The Romans would blame any problems with the people on them. They needed to get rid of him and fast ! They agree to have him killed.
One of them objected to this and was immediately put in his place by Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jews who said, “Don’t you realize that it’s better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.”
They all agreed and formed their plan to do away with Jesus.
Jesus heard about the plot to kill him and decided to keep a low profile for as long as he could. However, the time of the Jewish Passover was drawing near and all the Jews were heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. And that is where we find Jesus this morning, on his way into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
John tells us that six days prior to the Passover, Jesus had arrived in Bethany. Bethany was a small village about three miles outside the city limits of Jerusalem. Jerusalem could not hold all of the people who had gathered to celebrate the Passover. Bethany was where the overflow of people would stay. Bethany just happened to be where Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus lived.