Summary: The shouts of ’Hosanna!’ at the triumphal entry were shallow in contrast to the devotion Mary showed to Jesus in anointing him at Bethany the day before.



From the beginning of this year we have swept through the Scriptures as though we were watching a drama unfold. A few weeks ago we reached the climax in the drama with the arrival of the King.

We have looked at some of the teaching of Jesus about the Kingdom of God – and we are now at the point at which we can link together the Drama of Scripture with the lead up to Easter.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. But we are going to look at the events over two Sundays – this week and next.


This morning in the service we have sung: Hosanna in the highest – Lord we lift up you name – King of Kings, majesty – I live to serve your majesty.

But how deep is our worship? Do we worship with mind and will as well as the affections and the body?

Songs of praise to God are only deep expressions of worship when we sing with understanding as well as with feeling.


I want to suggest this morning that the person who worshiped with the greatest of sincerity, understanding and in spirit and in truth was not found among the crowds who cried out ‘hosanna’, but in a home where Jesus was honoured the day before.

READING John 12:1-19


Here is a remarkable story of a very unusual incident which led to biting criticism from Judas and the rest of the disciples present, and yet in contrast to this the approval of Jesus.


Jesus had come to Bethany (a place with special memories for him.) It was here that he had raised Lazarus from the dead.

A feast was being held in his honour, and amongst the guests were Martha (serving as usual), Mary and Lazarus.


Mary chose her opportunity and took the most valuable asset she had, a jar of very expensive perfume, and broke the neck of the jar in order to pour its entire contents on Jesus.

We can imagine the response of the people and the reaction of the guests. The smell of the perfume would have gradually drifted through the room until one by one the attention of the people was drawn to what was now taking place. Conversations would have gradually died. Everyone would have been motionless watching Mary who had poured out a whole bottle of this expensive perfume on Jesus and was wiping his feet with her hair.

Not long after the hum of conversation ceased the judgments began to be verbalized.

Judas was first to bring his criticisms – not because he was concerned for the poor, but because he was a thief.

Matthew’s account shows us that the other disciples joined in:

Matthew 26:8-9

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. [9] "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."

“Why this waste”. That was a stinging criticism. But Jesus spoke kindly and gave an entirely different perspective.


Mary understood what the others did not appear to understand = Jesus was going to his death.

Mary had intended saving this perfume for the day of his burial. But she reasoned that now would be a better time to use it.


Funerals always seem to have been expensive, and it seems that in these times funerals could also be costly = digging of tombs + embalming + spices + perfume.

*** Why not anoint Jesus BEFORE his death?


The word ‘WORSHIP’ comes from the combination of the two words WORTH SHIP. And to Mary, Jesus was worth more than every drop in the bottle.

Normally just a couple of drops of the expensive ointment were used for honoured guests. But Mary gave Jesus all the honour she could.

Here Mary took the opportunity to make a statement. She wanted Jesus to know just how much he meant to her before his death. Why wait for the funeral?

The criticisms against Mary were wholly inappropriate.

Jesus defended her: ’the poor you will always have with you --- but you will not always have me’

Jesus, whilst acknowledging the needs of the poor, did not make light of the fact that he was about to give his own life for the sins of the world.


It seems likely that Mary gained her insight from sitting at the feet of Jesus rather than busying herself at the cost of her devotional life (like her sister Martha).

And if we are never still before the Lord – taking in his word and listening to what God has to say to us in prayer, our worship is in danger of becoming shallow and our judgment of spiritual matters impaired.

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