Summary: Do we let earthly value supersede godly worth? Even if it is something negative in us which can come out as a glory to God. Are we willing to lose all that God has placed in our lives for His glory? What do we do with what has been placed in our hands?
Opening illustration: A young girl of about 5-6 years old taught me how to worship God. The down side of her was that she had ‘downs syndrome’ which eventually became her strength. Who could ever think that she would become a model who would even teach the mature in Christ to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. In the eyes of the world, what she had could easily be taken negatively but this did not stop her nor discourage her. She did not ponder what others would think or comment about her. She used what was in her hand powerfully.
Introduction: Have you ever had a moment when your breath was taken away? I’m not talking about getting sucker punched in the stomach and having the wind knocked out of you. I’m talking about experiencing something so wonderful that it leaves you speechless, breathless and in awe.
It was is something which we can say is ‘A beautiful thing.’ An unknown woman brings a jar of very expensive perfume and breaks it over Jesus’ head. Without any inhibitions or qualms, she worships Him in public. The Lord of the Universe, now dripping with perfume commends her, and the woman is praised in the presence of Jesus and his disciples.
Though the matter simply could have ended there, Jesus went on. He wanted to teach us something about the deeper beauties of what this woman did. She had prepared Jesus for his baptism. She had anointed him for the death-shattering task he would face in just three days. In her gift of love, this woman prepared the God man, the Son of the Living God, for the tomb. A tomb that would try to hold him, but wouldn’t. A tomb that would try to claim him, but couldn’t. She used what was in her hand for worship, praise, honor and exaltation of her King.
What to do with what is in your hand?
1. Use it as a symbol of worship to God (vs. 6-7)
Picture the scene with me. It’s the Saturday night before Palm Sunday. Jesus is with His close friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. It was only days prior to this that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And here they were sharing a meal together in the house of another friend, Simon the Leper who obviously had been healed by Jesus at some point, or else others wouldn’t have been in his house. So Jesus was sharing a meal with two men he had helped in miraculous ways. Can you imagine the joy and fellowship in that house that evening?
Then, Mary comes out. She’s not so much concerned with the food and the fellowship as she is focused on one thing – the Lord. In her hand, she held an Alabaster bottle. Alabaster is a beautiful semi-transparent gemstone. It was used to make containers which would hold only the most expensive and precious contents. When the contents were extremely precious, the makers would work the stone in such a way that the only way to empty it would be to break the container. It was the ultimate example of extravagance. This particular bottle contained some of the most exclusive and expensive perfume of the day. vs. 7 says it was “very precious” It cost over a year’s wages. Can you imagine someone today buying a vial of perfume that costs $35,000? That’s what Mary had. But it was precious also because it had sentimental value. This bottle of perfume had probably been passed down to her from someone in her family. It was a family heirloom. It was valuable in more ways than one, and Mary understood that. But by her action that day, she also understood the eternal value of the Savior. So she broke the bottle and poured the perfume over Jesus’ head, and it ran all the way down His divine body. John tells us that Mary then knelt down and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. Mary’s act of worship that night was unrestrained. She didn’t stop and worry about what others would think. She didn’t put it off for a more convenient time. She would not be restrained by financial or emotional costs. She just wanted to worship Jesus. Nothing would restrain her from offering Him her best.
Mary turned all attention upon the Lord and His person. She gave witness to truth about the person and work Jesus Christ. You might have the most important thing on earth. It might have great earthly value but just like Mary if you bring it to the Lord as a sacrifice of worship, God can use it for His glory.
2. Godly worth supersedes earthly value (vs. 8-10)
All of the money in Judas’ moneybag had a certain value. Later on, the 30 silver coins that he earned for betraying Jesus had a certain value. The coins that Jesus had Peter pull out of the fish’s mouth to pay their taxes had a certain value. Mary’s alabaster bottle had a certain value. And the perfume inside had a certain value. But where is that money now? Where are the 30 pieces of silver now? Where is Peter’s tax money now? If Mary had chosen to keep that bottle of perfume to herself. If she had chosen to keep the bottle intact. If she had chosen to keep the perfume inside. If she had kept it on a shelf in the best display case in the house. Where would it be now? It would be turned to dust – evaporated into the air - It would all be gone.