“The Joyful Extravagance of Worship” by wanghonghx

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									                                       “The Joyful Extravagance of Worship”
                                                  January 30, 2011
                                                 Dr. Ritch Boerckel

Scriptural Foundation: Mark 14:1-11, ESV

        The Plot to Kill Jesus
         1
          It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the
        scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there
        be an uproar from the people.”

        Jesus Anointed at Bethany
         3
          And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came
        with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his
        head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For
        this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they
        scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to
        me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will
        not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And
        truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in
        memory of her.”

        Judas to Betray Jesus
         10                                                                                                              11
           Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.
        And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to
        betray him.

The Puritans used to say, “God loves adverbs.” Adverbs are those little words which do not describe “what” we are
doing so much as “how” and “why” we are doing them. The point the Puritans were making, behind this little phrase,
is God cares more about the attitude with which we obey Him rather than the specific actions we take as we obey
Him. As Christians we much not content ourselves with doing good deeds, but our concern must also be for the
motivations of our heart and the spirit behind our deeds.

Indeed, the hands of worship are secondary to the heart of worship. It is not enough for me, as a pastor and as a
servant of God who preaches God‟s Word, which is the action and the “what”, but God calls me, in worship, to preach
His Word humbly, dependently, prayerfully, biblically, Christ-centeredly, and lengthily. (Laughter) How did that one
get in there? Strike that from your notes! How I preach matters to God more than “that” I preach and that is the point;
God loves adverbs.

In 2 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthian church on the subject of worshipful giving, giving to
the glory of Jesus in this world, and he writes the gifts they give should not be grudging ones, but should be willing
ones. Listen to what Paul says about worshipful giving,
         6
          The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also
        reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for
        God loves a cheerful giver.

Sometimes believers ask me these questions: What about the tithe? Is the Law of Tithing still in effect for us today? I
hope to convince you, in this study, I believe this is the wrong question for us to ask. If we have to ask it, in order to
motivate ourselves to give bountifully, something is unhealthy in our soul. God loves adverbs, but the Lord is not so
much concerned with the content of our gift and the amount, so much as He cares about the heart, the source from
which our gift flows. It is possible for us to give regularly and sacrificially, and yet miss the glory of God in our
giving and that would be a horrible shame.
We focus upon the heart of worship and the heart of our giving in this study. A picture often teaches us about a
biblical precept than one thousand words of explanation. God has given us this wonderful picture to help transform
our hearts toward joyful worship. In this text we are introduced to a woman who exemplifies a kind of giver God
loves. This dear woman sets before us an example of a person who gives to the Lord cheerfully. We discover God
delights in our worship of Him when we worship Him, not under compulsion and not out of obligation, cheerfully and
joyfully.

We will discuss three aspects of joyful worship. First, we will discuss the character of joyful worship. Second, we will
look at the criticism of joyful worship. Finally, we will look at the commendation of joyful worship.

Our story begins just two days before Jesus' final Passover celebration on earth and we learn that from Verses 1 and 2,
           1
            It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the
          scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there
          be an uproar from the people.”

Notice the enemies of God are never in charge of the outcomes or of the timing of their evil schemes. Jesus has
already declared many times over He had come into this world to give His life as a ransom for many and as a ransom
for our sin. In John 10, Jesus says, as the chief priests and scribes were trying to scheme and make a plan to take
Jesus' life,

          14
            “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me… 15 and I lay down my life for the sheep…18
          No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have
          authority to take it up again.”

In our text, the chief priests and scribes believe they are in control and their schemes can actually refute and contradict
God‟s design. They were plotting this evil upon Jesus and the one thing they said about this plot was not to do this
during the feast, “We will do it earlier,” although it is too late for that with the Feast just two days away, “or way
later, but we will not have Jesus die during the Passover Feast when so many people are gathered in Jerusalem.” Yet,
God‟s designs was for His Son to die at the time of the Passover so the world would know Jesus is the Passover Lamb
whose blood is spilled so our lives and our sins might be covered, and we might be rescued from the avenging angel,
from the condemnation of our sin, and from God‟s judgment.

God overruled these men for His glory and that is what God always does. God always turns the plans of evil people
into utter foolishness. They thought they were going to put and end to Jesus' power and rule through their scheme, but
in truth their scheming was used by God to establish Jesus' power and rule. They believed they would put Jesus to
shame as a result of their plan, but God turned their plan on its head so as to make their plan a platform for Jesus'
glory.

I love how the early church prayed when Peter and John were released from prison. In Acts 4, they prayed, and this is
in the context of Peter and John just having been placed in prison,
          24
            …“O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—25 you spoke long ago
          by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, „Why were the nations so angry? Why
          did they waste their time with futile plans? 26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered
          together against the LORD
          and against his Messiah.‟”
          27
            “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the
          Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But
          everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will.” 1


1
    New Living Translation (NLT)
The plans of evil men never, ever frustrate the plan and design of God. People, indeed, may rebel against God but a
person can never frustrate God‟s sovereign design. They always bump against a solid wall which is immovable. A
whole nation can rebel against God but that nation can never frustrate God‟s sovereign will. God is in contro l and He
will have the last word. How foolish it is for us to fight against Him! Let us submit ourselves to the Lord so He might
bless us and let us never doubt God is ever working all things in this world to accomplish His good plan. What joy
there is in that!

When we see the evil around us often so strong we know God is Ruler yet. Here we find that at the outset of this
story. They are plotting together for Jesus' death, not during the Passover, but guess when Jesus' death takes place? It
takes place during the Passover!

Our subject is the joy of extravagant worship and the story before us tells us again about the character of joyful
worship. Notice how this story begins, in Verse 3,
        3
         And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came
        with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his
        head.

Jesus is at Bethany. What a wonderful place for Jesus to be, by the way. Isn‟t it good to be at “Bethany”? Jesus
thought so!

Simon the leper has invited Jesus into his house, along with some others, for a dinner party. No doubt, Simon is a
“healed” leper. A leper who is still a leper would not be able to have a dinner party in his home because no one would
come as he would still be “unclean”, but he is undoubtedly one of those who Jesus has touched and completely
cleansed his life of disease and made him whole.

In the 1st Century, the guests did not sit in chairs during a supper party but they sat on the floor, with pillows behind
them, so they might comfortably recline while they ate and talked with one another. This particular story is also told
in Matthew‟s Gospel as well as John‟s Gospel making this story recorded in three Gospels. John gives us some added
detail as to certain particulars which Matthew and Mark did not record. Read what John 12, says about this dinner,
         2
          So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at
        table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of
        Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

I believe these three accounts are all the same in Matthew‟s, Mark‟s, and John‟s Gospel. If that is true, then Mary,
Martha, and Lazarus were among the dinner guests. Remember, as it was recorded in John 11, Lazarus died and was
in a grave for four days and then he was resurrected. This dinner takes place on the heels of that amazing miracle of
Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. One could almost imagine the kinds of conversations which took place around
that dinner table. Would you not love to be invited to that dinner party? I would have loved to have been a fly on the
wall and able to listen in on the conversations they were having during that meal.

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, is the woman who anointed Jesus' head and feet with a Roman pound of pure
nard.2 A Roman pound is not like our pound. It is twelve ounces instead of sixteen ounces.

From Mary we learn three essential characteristics of joyful worship. First, joyful worship is compelled by a deep love
for Jesus and joyful worship begins in the heart. Mary‟s heart was so much devoted and committed to delighting in
and loving the Lord Jesus. Jesus had taught her the path of eternal life as she sat at His feet often. Jesus had rescued
her from her own sin. Jesus had demonstrated to her His glory as she watched Him perform miracle after miracle.
Jesus had befriended her personally. Jesus had raised her brother from the grave, but more than all of that, Mary loved
Jesus because she knew Jesus was about to die upon the cross as a sacrifice for sin.



2
 It is in the Gospels that nard becomes a symbol of revelation during the anointment of Christ at Bethany. Nard has intense,
warm, fragrant, musky notes, similar to the aro mas of humus. It exhib its a wide range of fragrance s among the root-type
perfu mes. Bible Fragrances, www.bib lefragrances.net
Mary treasures these opportunities to draw near to Him and to offer honor to Him. She delights to listen to Him teach.
She is excited to learn more about God‟s unfolding plan, about salvation, about her own sin, and about God‟s grace.
True and joyful worship is always compelled by a deep love for Jesus.

The disease of joyless worship will not be remedied by more energetic music, more impressive sanctuaries, or more
relevant preaching. None of those things will bring life to joyless worship. The disease of joyless worship is not an
external problem, but it is an internal one. It is not a problem of our surroundings, but it is a problem of our own soul.
Mary was not moved to worship Jesus by the atmosphere of the dinner. There was no worship band playing. There
was no motivational preacher speaking. There were no soft candles creating a room of tranquility. No, there was only
Jesus and her heart was moved to worship Him because she loved Him.

We must not blame the externals for the listlessness or lifelessness in our worship. We need more love for Christ if we
are to worship Him, not only on Sundays but everyday. Our gifts given in our worship must not be given out of a
sense of duty or obligation, but rather out of a delight in God for God loves a cheerful giver 3 and a cheerful
worshipper. Let us learn to address the condition of our heart before looking into any other factor as we pursue joyful
worship.

Someone may ask the question: How do I pursue a deeper love for God, if it is a deeper love for God which will
connect me to greater joy and delight in the worship of God? How do I pursue a deeper love for God?

We seek God‟s grace to awaken our hearts and we cannot make this change within ourselves, so we say, “God, I need
you to transform me,” and we seek God‟s grace, first, by talking with God in prayer. I love the hymn and the prayer
the hymn speaks, when it says,

           More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
           Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
           This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
           More love to Thee, more love to Thee!4

When was the last time you called out in prayer, “God, here is what I want more than anything else, I want to have
more love to Thee.” Such love for God is a gift from God so let us learn to ask Him for it.

We also seek God‟s grace, in order to have more love for Christ, by listening to God more carefully. If we are to love
Jesus more, we must pursue deeper spiritual understanding by sitting at Jesus' feet and learning from Him.

Mary pursued her love for Jesus by listening to Him, and as a result Mary learned more from Jesus than anyone else
in the room that night. That evening Mary knew something about Jesus the others at the dinner party should have
known, but did not know because they did not listen.

Mary understood Jesus was about to suffer and die as a sacrifice for sin. She knew Jesus was going to die as The
Passover Lamb whose blood would protect anyone from the Judgment of God once it is applied personally. We know
this because of the way Jesus would later defend Mary‟s worship. Notice, in Verse 8, Jesus says,
           8
               She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.

Jesus is acknowledging Mary‟s spiritual understanding of the whole situation. Everyone at the dinner should have
understood what Mary knew, but they did not because they did not listen carefully enough.

In Mark 10, not long prior to this particular event, Jesus tells them plainly,
           33
             “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the
           scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him
           and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”


3
    2 Corinthians 9:7
4
    “More Love to Thee, O Ch rist,” Elizabeth P. Prentiss, 1818-1878
Jesus tells these disciples who are at this dinner very plainly what is going to happen, but they did not get the
message. They missed it because they did not listen, but Mary did not miss it because she sat at Jesus' feet.

Why do you believe Mary understood the spiritual truth about Jesus the others missed? It is because of where we find
Mary every time we see her in the New Testament. We always find her sitting at Jesus' feet listening to what Jesus has
to say. The more she listened the more she knew about Jesus and the understanding about God and what God was
doing through Jesus. The more she understood the more she loved Him. That is the way our love for God grows
within us; the more we know Him the more we love Him and the more we listen to Him the more we will know Him.

Remember Mary was the one who sat at Jesus' feet, listening to Him teach, while Martha was busy with the food and
with serving Jesus, in the first time we were introduced to these sisters. The more Mary listened to Jesus, the more
delighted and contented Mary was just to stay there, however, the more Mary stayed there the more disturbed Martha
became. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was sitting down while she was working and she said, “Jesus, tell
Mary to get up and help me,” 5 but the Lord answered her, in Luke 10,
          41
            “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about so many things, but, one thing is necessary. Mary
          has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Friends, we will love Jesus more as we sit more at Jesus' feet and listen to Him. If we do not commit ourselves to
listening to Jesus we will never love Jesus as Mary did.

Someone will ask: How do we do that? Jesus is not physically present with us as He was with Mary? He is in Heaven
now.

Today we sit at Jesus' feet and we listen to Him by opening the Book Jesus has given to us, meditating upon it day a nd
night, and responding to it and whatever Jesus says through it. This is the Word of Jesus and we know that because
that is what the Bible calls itself.

In Colossians 3, The Apostle Paul says,
          16
               Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

These are Jesus' words and if we are to listen to Jesus, we come to His Word He has given to us as recorded on the
pages of Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is present with us today and He is speaking as plainly and clearly
to us today as He was in Mary‟s day.

The problem is we are more like Martha than Mary. We are busy doing so many things; so anxious; and so troubled
rather than to be content and sit and say, “I need to listen. I need to learn. I need to understand what Jesus has to tell
me.” We will never gain spiritual understanding if we do not have the heart of Mary to sit still and listen. We are
always standing up and running about being busy.

Let me ask you, Christian, do you study God‟s Word? Before you answer that, I mean, do you really study it, and I do
not mean a passing glance or a verse or two on Monday or Tuesday or the following days, but do you really dig in.
Or, have we become distracted, even in our Bible reading, by so many things we are like Martha. We can hear Jesus'
voice and it is not as though Martha did not hear anything Jesus had to say, but she was working while she was trying
to listen and she could not listen attentively because of that. She could not discover and learn what Mary was learning
because Mary stilled her heart before Jesus. Do you do that?

James Boyce, a great pastor who died a number of years ago, tells a story of a young man who was riding with a well-
known Bible teacher on a train enroot to one of the Bible teacher‟s meetings. The young man was reading the
newspaper and the teacher was reading his Bible. The man looked over and noticed the teacher reading the Bible and
he said to the teacher, “I wish I knew the Bible as well as you do.” The teacher answered gently, “You will never get
to know the Bible by reading the newspaper.” The young man got the message, put his newspaper away, and began
reading the Bible. In time, this young man became a widely known servant of God.


5
    Lu ke10:40b
That is how it works; we must put something away and we have to stop doing what Martha is doing. We cannot do
both. We must choose the “greater portion” and we must learn Mary‟s habits if we are to have Mary‟s heart.

The second characteristic of joyful worship is: joyful worship is costly in its expression. In New Testament times men
and women did not eat at the same time. While the men were eating their meal, Mary slips in quietly during the dinner
conversation. She is, at first, unobserved and she takes out this alabaster jar of perfume. It tells us in the text she had
to break this jar in order for the perfume to be released because it was completely sealed. It did not have a screw-on
cap.

We can almost hear Mary sneak in and beside Jesus and snap off the cap of the alabaster jar. Immediately, as she does
this, it is such expensive and fine perfume from India, it is the kind of fragrance which fills the room as soon as the
alabaster jar is opened. Everyone‟s eyes now become riveted upon Mary as they smell the fragrance of this costly
perfume. The flask contained a soda can‟s measure of this luxurious liquid.

A drop or two would have lingered the rest of the night on Jesus' clothes and hair. That is what normally one does
with such an expensive fragrance; a drop or two would have been enough. But, Mary, instead of taking out a drop or
two to dab it on Jesus, begins to shake and then they hear the “glug, glug, glug” as she pours the contents of the bottle
over His head and its fragrance flows over Jesus hair and His shoulders. She takes some of it and she anoints Jesus'
feet with the perfume and then she wipes Jesus' feet with her hair. The others in the room are aghast; they cannot
believe she poured out the whole bottle. They are disturbed, and particularly in John‟s Gospel Judas, the human
calculator, begins to tally the amount of money this twelve ounce jar of perfume is worth. He counts “three hundred
denarii” which is one year‟s worth of wages for a common laborer.

Her love for Jesus burst forth in an extravagant expression of worship upon Him. In a moment an entire year‟s worth
of wages was poured out on Jesus' feet and head. Think for a moment the practical challenge Mary‟s worship presents
to us. Mary had scrimped and saved, as she was a wise woman, an entire year‟s worth of wages. How many of us
have done that? How many of us have accessible to us an entire year‟s worth of wages? How long does it take a
person to be able to save an entire year‟s worth of wages and set it aside?

Then she took that which she had saved for so long and so carefully, and in one motion, in less than five minutes of
time, poured it out over the head and feet of the Lord Jesus. Mary did not need a calculator to discern what he tithe
should be, at least not on this occasion. She gave an amount so lavish it would be unthinkable to anyone who did not
love Jesus so deeply. Her gift was not practical and it was not sensible, but in a lavish expression of love she gave an
entire jar of perfume for the purpose of honoring her Lord.

I understand this story represents an unusual offering in Mary‟s life. She did not do this every week, but I also
wonder, practically, if we had Mary‟s opportunity would we love Jesus to the extent we are willing to give Him so
lavishly were the Spirit to prompt us.

We likely do not have a perfume flask worth of a year‟s wages, but what might our “jar of pure nard” be? If prompted
by God, what might that jar of perfume be we would pour out in honor to His Son? Would we be willing, or after
given the Spirit‟s prompting would we find some reason not to pour out the whole measure and let that opportunity
slip by without doing anything so lavish and so ridiculously costly.

Kent Hughes writes, “Among the tragedies of life are the times we are moved to do something fine or noble and we
do not do it.” As I read those words a conviction came over me because I can think of many times when I was
prompted to do something “fine or noble” but I convinced myself out of it. Instead, we yield to common sense or the
busyness of life. We ignore the impulse to write a letter of appreciation, the prompting to tell someone we love them,
or the urge to give to the needy, and thus the possibility of a thing of beauty is gone forever.

Won‟t you join with me in committing ourselves to do noble things God‟s Spirit prompts us to do?

Joyful worship is also conspicuous in its presentation. Mary did not try to be noticed by others. That was not her
intent at all, but she was noticed by others. Her worship was so much a part of her life she could not hide her love for
Jesus from other, even if she tried. I know we do not perform acts of worship in order to be seen by men, that would
spoil worship, but that does not mean others will not notice a life so devoted to Jesus that everything is about Him.

If our worship is not conspicuous, that is to say, if our wives, our husbands, our children, our closest friends do not
see us ever in the context of worship and delight and they do not observe that about our life, I would say there is
something wrong with our worship because worship is conspicuous by its nature.

This week I have been reading a biography of John G. Patton, a missionary to the New Hebrides, islands in the South
Pacific. John G. Patton lived in the 19th Century and what an inspiring life of faith he was. If you read one more
biography in your life, I urge you to read the biography of John G. Patton. It will quicken you and awaken you.

John G. Patton‟s father was a stocking manufacturer, a laborer and a businessman. He was a hard working stocking
manufacturer who loved God and a busy man with a busy life, but he was not too busy for joyful worship. John G.
Patton spoke of his father in the first several chapters of his biography. He talked about how his father, three times a
day, would go to a prayer closet. John G. Patton was one of eleven children and he did not have to have his father say,
“Children, I am going to my prayer closet now!” but his children noticed and it was conspicuous. You cannot help but
notice that kind of devotion.

In the morning and in the evening he would gather his family together for family worship and he writes he does not
remember a day when that habit was not fulfilled by his father; everyday, throughout John G. Patton‟s life, morning
and evening he gathered his family together to read the Bible, pray, and discuss it.

John G. Patton writes this of his father‟s conspicuous worship, “The worst woman in the village, then leading an
immoral life but since changed by the grace of God, was known to declare the only thing which kept her from despair
and the Hell of suicide was when, in the dark winter night, she crept close up underneath my father‟s window and
heard him pleading in family worship God would convert the sinner from the error of wicked ways and polish him as
a jewel for the Redeemer‟s crown. She said, „I felt I was a burden upon that good man‟s heart and I knew God would
not disappoint him. That thought kept me out of Hell and, at last, lead me to the only Savior.‟”

Is that not interesting?Here is a guy having family worship and here is the most immoral woman in the village
knowing about it because she could hear his praying through the window, and one night she stopped just to listen and
she heard him pray in such a way she knew he was praying for her to be redeemed. Worship is conspicuous!

If we worship extravagantly we are likely to be noticed and we ought to take pause if our children, our wives, or out
best friends do not notice something lavish about our devotion to Christ. To worship God in order to be noticed is an
evil thing, but to worship so consistently and so extravagantly we cannot help but be noticed is God-honoring thing.

Let us consider the criticism of joyful worship in Verses 4 and 5,
        4
         There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this
        ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded
        her.

This criticism was intended to rebuke Mary‟s worship, but in reality they did not know at that time, they rebuked their
own cold hearts, even as they were saying that. It was intended to elevate themselves above Mary, rather than put
themselves way below her tenderness, compassion, and love for the Lord.

There are two principles I want to draw from this. First, unbelief never rejoices in the honor of Jesus. In unbelief the
Disciples called Mary‟s worship “a waste”, the text tells us. The text tells us they “were indignant” and they “scolded
her”. The Greek word used there is that of a horse snorting. 6 They were like wild horses snorting at her.

Imaging poor Mary and how these words stung her. She was hardly conscious of others in the room and that is not
why she was bringing this jar, yet suddenly everyone turned on her. Why did they respond this way? It was because
their worship was man-centered and not God-centered. The eye‟s of their soul was not riveted in faith upon Jesus and
6
 “embrimaomai”: to charge with earnest admonition, sternly to charge, threaten to enjoin, The Greek Lexicon Online,
BibleStudyTools.com
they were not filled with the zeal for the Lord. They had forgotten who the audience of worship was. They thought
worship was to please themselves and to please others, and they failed to acknowledge God Himself is the only
important audience. Man‟s applause means little if Jesus is not pleased and man‟s distain is little if Jesus smiles.

The worshipper‟s only care in life is to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”7 Friends, let us be
careful we have a God-centered view of life and let us not discourage other believers from lavish and extravagant
expressions of worship, to be sure.

“Only one life, ‟twill soon be past, only what‟s done for Christ will last;” 8 let charges and criticisms from men and
women over being too radical or too strange in our devotion, and too fanatical, wash right over us and let us listen for
Jesus' words and look for Jesus' smile for He is worthy. When we understand our own sinfulness and the great mercy
Jesus extends to us, we will know gift to Him and no means by which we honor Him will be too extravagant or too
lavish.

The second principle is: the love of money will destroy our soul. 9 Judas was specifically targeted by John‟s Gospel as
the one who had such problems here. It is likely Judas was the first to utter the criticism and the other Disciples fell in
line behind him. It is interesting how good men and women are prone to be influenced by the Judas‟s in the midst of
God‟s people. Let us be careful who we listen to and their criticism, what they think about church life, what they think
about worship, and what they think about others.

Judas always had money on the brain and because of that he had deadness in his soul. Paul would say, in 1 Timothy,
        9
          But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires
        that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is
        through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
         11
              But as for you, O man of God (and O woman of God), flee these things.

Let us keep watch over our soul. No sin will strangle our faith and spiritual life like the love of money.

The last issue is the commendation of joyful worship and the wonderful words Jesus gives in Verse 6,
         6
          But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you
        always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always
        have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to
        you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Jesus delights in His own glory and values worship given to Him. Jesus' words of commendation of Mary
undoubtedly lifted her soul as she was experiencing the darkness of discouragement. They were doing an ugly thing
and He makes sure Mary is publically encouraged and publically praised. Jesus

Jesus, here, is not discouraging gifts to the poor. Remember He said to the rich young ruler, “Sell your possessions
and give your money to the poor.” 10 He is not denigrating the generosity of God‟s people in caring for the poor, but
what He is doing is prioritizing worship and the honor of His name above anything else. If we forget Jesus while we
are helping the poor we have missed everything. The order of priority God calls us to is Jesus first and others second,
for when we place Jesus first, our life will be breathed into with the health and the life of God so we might do
everything else better. With Jesus first, our compassion for the poor will not diminish, but it will only multiply in
fruitfulness.

Jesus is simply reordering the Disciples‟ priorities and we must ask ourselves, “Where are my priorities? Is Jesus
first?” That is the way it was with Mary.


7
  Matthew 21:25
8
  “Only One Life Twill Soon Be Past,” C.T. Studd
9
  1 Timothy 6:10
10
   Matthew 19:21a
The final principle we must think about when we think about this commendation is: Jesus honors everyone who
honors Him, as we read in Verse 9,
           9
            And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be
          told in memory of her.”

Today we are testimony to the truthfulness of Jesus' prophesy. The Gospel has been preached in this area and this
woman, and her actions, are being talked about today. No act of extravagant, joyful worship is unnoticed by God. No
act of extravagant worship is unrewarded by Jesus; Jesus honors everyone who honors Him. His eye is upon us and
upon all we do for His glory and He records everything in His book. Everything we have done for the glory and honor
of Jesus will be returned in great measure to us with great treasure and reward.11

We often have some keepsakes which are precious to us, not because of their monetary value so much as the
motivation of the heart with which they are given. For instance, I have a box of letters Kimberly wrote to me when we
were in college and when I was in seminary. Those letters, if the house burned, is one of the first things I would take
because they are precious to me. I also have some Father‟s Day cards my children did not purchase, but which they
drew. The art work is worth zero dollars, but being given a hand-drawn card is priceless.

A friend of mine, Dave Beakley, gave me a sword his father had given to him. His father was in World War II and he
received it from someone in the Japanese military. Dave gave that sword to me and it is a precious keepsake to me
because of what is behind it.

Jesus has a treasure box of keepsakes. If you were to open His keepsake box, you would find this empty alabaster jar
with the top snapped off. You would find two, little pennies a widow gave. You would find a cup which held the cup
of cold water someone gave to the “least of these”.

We must ask, as we think about this woman: What of ours does Jesus keep in His keepsake box? Is there anything in
there we have given to Him which He holds precious? What a joy to think God would honor us so by holding
something we would give to Him; not something He needed, not something of immense value in Heaven, but
something which has great value because it expresses a heart of worship.

Let us not miss the heart of the Gospel in this story. Mary was anointing Jesus for burial. She knew Jesus was the
Passover Lamb.

In the Old Testament stories, the blood of the Passover lamb had to be applied to the door in order for the people in
the house to be safe when the Angel of Death, God‟s destroying angel, swept over as His Angel of Judgment. 12

Jesus is the Passover Lamb and there will be a day when the Angel of Death and the Angel of Judgment sweeps over
everyone‟s life. There is only one way you can be safe during that time and that is if you have applied the blood of the
Passover Lamb to the doorpost of your soul. Have you taken the blood of Jesus for yourself and said, “Jesus, I am
trusting in you and in you alone to deliver me on that day so my sins might be forgiven and so I might be made clean.




11
     Matthew 16:27
12
     Exodus 12:12-13

								
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