Summary: This Christmas season, let us open our hearts completely to God. As we do that we will open ourselves up to receive the deep and abiding joy that is found only in knowing God.
The Outpouring of Joy, Mark 14:3-9
Introduction (Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace)
The fames 19th Century English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, tells the story of a minister who called upon a poor woman, intending to give her help; for he knew that she was very poor. With his money in his hand, he knocked at the door; but she did not answer.
He concluded she was not at home, and went his way. A little after he met her at the church, and told her that he had remembered her need: “I called at your house, and knocked several times, and I suppose you were not at home, for I had no answer.” “At what hour did you call, sir?” “It was about noon."
“Oh, dear,” she said, “I heard you, sir, and I am so sorry I did not answer; but I thought it was the man calling for the rent.” Many a poor woman knows what this meant.
This morning it is my desire to be heard, and therefore I want to say that I am not calling for the rent; indeed, it is, indeed, not that I am going to require something of you, this morning I want to offer something to you which is freely given; free of charge; for nothing; gratis.
It is not my desire to make a demand upon you, but to bring you something. We are not going to talk about law, and duty, and punishment, but about love, and goodness, and forgiveness, and mercy, and eternal life.
Do not, therefore, act as if you were not at home: do not turn a deaf ear, or a careless heart. I am asking nothing of you in the name of God or man. It is not my intent to make any requirement at your hands; but I come in God’s name, to bring you a free gift, which it shall be to your present and eternal joy to receive.
I invite you to open the door of your heart, and let my pleadings enter. “Come now, and let us reason together.” The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning not happiness, but your immediate and endless joy.
He and He alone is the source of our strength and it is He who now invites you to receive, share, and in sharing to receive again, the outpouring of His divine and eternal provision for his life. Happiness is an emotion; joy is the restful provision of God in this life, which can, at times, be so demanding.
Today’s Scripture reading is found in Mark 14:3-9 where it says, “And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (NKJV)
In this passage of Scripture we are told the story of an unnamed, unimportant, unknown woman who poured out her appreciation as she poured out an entire jar of a very expensive perfume upon the head of Christ.
We are told only that she was a certain woman. Nothing more than that is known about this woman either from history or the Bible, though some tradition says that she this is Mary the sister of Lazarus and Martha, but we can not know for sure.
While we know very little of whom she was; what we know for sure is this: in pouring out the perfume she poured out her love for Christ. The perfume she poured out was like the head of the spring of her joy.
No doubt Jesus had impacted and changed her in some way. He had filled her with the only natural result of His love – joy – and in return she came to celebrate the joy giver with a precious gift of costly perfume.
While we are left to speculate about the identity of the woman in this story, there is much that we can ascertain from her actions. Is not often said that actions speak louder than words?