Summary: This look at Mary at the feet of Jesus will show how giving Jesus extreme worship doesn’t fit worldly thinking but it always fits Godly devotion
I’m not sure exactly when they started – it may have been back before the time of Christ. I’m not sure how Mt. Dew seemed to become the drink associated with them. But I am relatively sure that we’ll have “extreme sports” in some form or another for the rest of history to come.
Extreme sport: certain activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger or difficulty and often involving speed, height, a high level of physical exertion, and highly specialized gear or spectacular stunts.
There are enthusiasts whose search for a new thrill drives them to the edge. For instance, “extreme skiing.” People are skiing down mountains in the name of excitement that will kill them if they fall, and have killed some. True, that’s exciting. BASE jumping. Big wave surfing. BMX and motocross jumping.
These aren’t isolated phenomenons. They’re just more symptoms. Seems like our world is in a continual search for extremes that will give a new rush or offer some kind of artificial meaning to life.
Remember Romans 12:1 - “Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to present your bodies as living sacrifices... (KJV says) this is your “reasonable act of worship.” NASV footnotes it “your rational service of worship...”
We’re looking at a scene this morning of worship that was unreasonable. It was lavish, extravagant. It was extreme. Now, some of you hear that and think, “Oh, Brother Sherm, preach it. We know that worship is supposed to be done decently, and in order, and that there’s certainly no room for any of that extreme attitude in worship.” Sorry. We’re also looking at a scene of unreasonable worship to which Jesus gave His stamp of approval!
So there are others of you who hear that and say, “Cool, Dude! Yeah! Extreme worship! I knew it was in there somewhere! Let’s do it!” OK. If Jesus says to, let’s! But before we jump head first into “extreme worship,” let’s see what that means. What would that look like? Are we going to need helmets and elbow pads?
You would think we’ve already seen it. After all, there are plenty of people who are approaching worship much like a sport. It’s something you do for a rush. And, if the rush dies down, you find some way to tweak it – some way to make it a little more on the edge – a little more extreme. If it gives you enough of a rush, you’ll come back to it. You may even invite someone else to share the rush with you. If it stops giving you a rush, you go on to the next venue, on to the next form of it, all in the hopes of getting something that you’re looking for. I’ve gotta ask – is that really worshiping God? It sounds to me like someone else is on the throne there – it’s the guy in the mirror.
I want to get one point across this morning, and I’m going to go ahead and make it right now: Giving Jesus extreme worship doesn’t fit worldly thinking, but it always fits Godly devotion. Who’s up for that? Who wants to do that?
If you’re not, go ahead and work on your shopping list. I hope some of this will soak in anyway. If you are, then here we go.
It’s 1 week before Jesus will be crucified. He has finished a preaching tour between Jn 11 and 12. He’s visiting Bethany, a little shanty town less than 2 miles outside Jer. It’s where Lazarus and his 2 sisters lived. It’s also the home of a man named Simon – Simon the Leper. Jesus and His friends have been invited there for a meal.
Nothing too unusual. In fact, we do that too, don’t we – a meal given in someone’s honor. That’s not extreme worship, though.
Look around the room there. I wonder if Martha’s last name wasn’t Stewart – ‘cause there she is serving again. Lazarus is part of the group around the table.
In comes a woman. Though Mt and Mk record this event, only John tells us that this woman was Mary – Lazarus and Martha’s sister. Moved by the moment, she’s the one who approached Jesus with an act of extreme worship.
Jesus said that wherever the gospel is preached, Mary would be remembered for what she did. Well, here we are! What does her act of extreme worship have for us to learn? Where does that fit in with us? Let’s see…
I. Though it’s often misunderstood, it’s never a mistake
Mary was misunderstood - All 3 times we see Mary at the feet of Jesus, she was misunderstood.
This perfume (we’ll call it “nard #5”) that Mary produced wasn’t common. It was usually an oil, perfumed from an herb that grew in the Himalayas - somewhere around India or Tibet – only this text tells us it was “pure nard.” Mt & Mk say it was in a bottle made of “alabaster,” also from that area. It had to be imported from very far away. That made it valuable – the business minds in the group quickly figured it was worth a year’s wages - probably the investment of her life’s savings. The power of its smell gave it away as she poured it out. There was only about 12 oz. of it, but it was worth a fortune!