Summary: Through Mary’s gift, we see an example of what Jesus wants, and does not want from you and me, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.
I think it’s safe to say that by and large, men need a lot of help in finding that perfect holiday gift. It just isn’t a talent that many men have. Sometimes the hints have to be especially large. Well this morning, I’d like to help all of the men present to discover what will be the perfect gift for the wife this Christmas. We all know that women love perfume. They love to smell nice. Perhaps men, you’ve bought perfume in the past. But I’m not talking about just any perfume. I’m talking about Marilyn Miglin’s “Parfum”. We all know the first question any man will ask before making a considerable purchase. “How much will it cost?” Well men, you will be relieved to know that Marilyn Miglin’s perfume only costs $500 for a one ounce bottle! Just imagine how wonderful your wife will smell when she is wearing this perfume! For $500 an ounce, she’d better smell incredible. She will smell almost as good as the woman whose husband buys her Clive Christian’s Sandalwood and Indian Jasmine perfume. Clive Christian’s product sells for a mere $1,820 per bottle. Now you are getting 30 ml so at least this will last her about a month. But men, just imagine how wonderful it will be to hug your wife coming home from work and smell $1,820 perfume on her neck? But let me ask you a question. Why would you stop there? Why would you buy her the second most expensive perfume in the world? Because the most expensive perfume in the world is Arthur Burnham’s Gianni Vive Sulman. It only costs...once converted from British pounds to American dollars...$74,555. That’s all! You probably have that much under the cushions of your sofa. How many of you ladies would like a bottle of Gianni Vive Sulman? Take a look men, because you have no excuses this year. Now you know what your wife wants for Christmas. All you have to do is go and get it!
But believe it or not, if you want to find the most valuable perfume in all of time, you have to turn to the Word of God in the book of John, chapter twelve, verses one through eight.
This morning, we’ve talked about what our wives might want this Christmas. I’m sure we’ve all spent time talking about what the husbands and the children and loved ones want for Christmas. But what does Jesus want this Christmas? Besides, it is his birthday we’re celebrating. What would Jesus want? Notice I did not ask “What does Jesus want FOR Christmas", but what does Jesus want THIS Christmas?” Because what Jesus wants from you and me this Christmas is exactly what Jesus wants 365 days a year. It doesn’t change! I believe that in our text today we have the answer to this question. We see it through the gift Mary gave Jesus when he was in Bethany. We see an example of what Jesus does want and what Jesus does NOT want this Christmas.
1) What Jesus wants: A SACRIFICE of LOVE.
A sacrifice of love was exactly what Mary gave Jesus. Every detail we read is an expression of her love for Jesus. Verse three says she took a pound of “very costly” perfume. Just how costly was it? We read that Judas thought he could sell it for about 300 denarii. Remember, a denarius was one day’s wage in Jesus’ day. If a person works five days a week every week of the year, no holidays or vacations, it equals only 260 days a year. In other words, this perfume was worth more than an entire year’s salary for the average person! Let’s give a conservative estimate for how much it would cost today. If you took even a low salary at 300 day wages, it today would cost at least $30,000. In Mary’s day, this was the most expensive perfume you could buy. It would easily have been as costly as Marilyn Miglin’s or Clive Christian’s or Arthur Burnham’s which we mentioned earlier!
But can I tell you that Jesus was not impressed by the value of the perfume. This same Jesus saw the two mites given by the widow and said she gave more than all of the big contributors in the temple. Had Mary had only $30 to her name, instead of $30,000, and had she taken that money and bought $30 perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet, he would have been just as impressed. Why? Jesus saw her heart! The size of the gift didn’t matter. It was the fact that her gift was an expression of love from the heart.
In Luke chapter seven we read of another gift made by another woman, a prostitute. Jesus was eating dinner in the home of a Pharisee. In came this woman, and she poured ointment on Jesus’ feet and her tears rinsed them and she wiped them with her hair while she wept. Do you remember what Jesus said? "He who is forgiven little loves little. But he who is forgiven much LOVES MUCH!" I believe that this is where Mary got her idea. Mary said to herself, I want to show Jesus how much I love him! So she took what was the most valuable possession she had, and she literally placed it at the feet of Jesus! In another gospel it says that she broke the box, meaning she gave it all! Every drop she poured on those feet where the nails would soon be driven. Half would not do. She gave it all, because she wanted Jesus to know how much she loved him.