This is the Wednesday night sermon for August 12th, 2009.

JOHN PART 54

The fragrance of pure worship.

John 12:1-11.

INTRODUCTION

Six days before the last Passover Jesus would celebrate while alive on this earth, we have this great story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet.  This is listed both in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 as well with additional insight, but it is a different woman and a different time that Jesus was anointed this way in Luke 7.  So, much like the cleansing of the Temple, this event actually took place twice in the life of Christ: once at the beginning of His earthly ministry (Luke 7); and once at the end of His earthly ministry (Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12).  Let’s begin reading our text tonight.

John 12:1-11 TNIV – 1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” 9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

Here in this story, we see the pure, unhindered worship of Mary toward her Lord and soon to be Savior.  This act of worship does not go unnoticed.  Its spiritual fragrance literally brought out the conditions of the peoples hearts that were present.  Let’s begin.

The timing of this event.

John 11:1-2 TNIV – 1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.

Like I said earlier, this is six days before the Passover, meaning in a little more than a week or so Jesus would be arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified.

There are two more public events before these things occur that are very important:  The anointing of Jesus here of course; and His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  In these two events you see individual responses and public responses to Christ.

On the surface we don’t realize the danger that Jesus steps into by attending this meal in His honor.  Look how chapter 11 closes.

John 11:57 TNIV – The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest Him.

Again, this shows the absolute certainty and trust Jesus Christ had in the Father’s Sovereign plan.

Mary’s worship exposed her heart.

John 12:3 TNIV – Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The oil that Mary used during this time was imported from India, more than likely.  It was very expensive, about a year’s wages.  It didn’t matter to Mary; she gave it all to her Lord and poured it on Him, draining the entire bottle.  She didn’t just pour it on His feet; we need to take the other Gospel’s account on this as well.

Mark 14:3 TNIV – 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some additional information based on Mark 14:

  • The meal was given in honor of Jesus, not at the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, but at the house of Simon the Leper, another person touched by Christ.
  • This was an alabaster jar, which was also expensive.
  • She broke the jar, indicating the jar would never be used again and all its contents poured out.
  • In Mark, she pours it on His head, so it must have dripped down too His feet.

It did not matter to Mary what others thought.  She not only broke and poured out the costly jar of fragrant oil; but she was also broken and spilled out before Jesus and the people attending the meal as well.

While we shouldn’t be fanatical and overbearing in our worship for our Lord, neither should we be dead in our worship either.  Worship Him because you love Him and are grateful to Him for saving you.

Mary’s worship also exposed wicked hearts.

John 12:4-6 TNIV – 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

There are actually three types of people that complain here.  Let’s look at the other two Gospels this event is mentioned for additional insights and then we will begin looking into them.

Matthew 26:8-9 TNIV – 8 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.”

Mark 14:4-5 TNIV – 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

Let’s look at the hearts exposed:

  • Judas’s wicked heart. Judas uses the excuse of the poor, but he wasn’t really interested in the poor, but wanted the money for Himself.  How do we know this, by John’s insight in verse 6: “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
  • The disciple’s hearts. They may have genuinely cared for the poor, but they didn’t realize that Jesus was about to be arrested, tortured and crucified.  It was important what she was doing and prophetic as well, their hearts were not spiritual at this point, just looking at the cost and immediate need.
  • Those present and their hearts. Like the Disciples, they were not recognizing the significance of what Mary is doing, they are only concerned of the cost and they think it is a complete waste.

One side note, this event may have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for Judas.  Notice the insight of Mark.

Mark 14:10 TNIV – 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.

Jesus received Mary’s act of worship.

John 12:7-8 TNIV – “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Jesus pointed out that Mary was not wasting this perfume on Him.  They would always have the poor to help, but He would not be around much longer for them to lavish themselves on Him.  Mary’s act of worship and motivation behind the act was pure and received by Jesus.

The crowds and the chief priests.

John 17:9-11 TNIV – 9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

Crowds still wanted to see Jesus, and also Lazarus, because of the fact that he was raised from the dead.  So not only did the chief priests make plans to kill Jesus, but Lazarus as well.

Now before we close tonight.  I want us to see something that Paul says that can be applied to our expressions and lives of worship we live before the world.

When we worship God from a pure heart, there are 2 results.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 TNIV – 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

The two results of our lifestyle of worship:

  • To those who are being saved – we are an aroma that brings life.
  • To those perishing – we are an aroma that brings death.

CONCLUSION

Mary left us such a marvelous example.  Be broken and spilled out for Christ in your worship.  That’s not talking about pure emotional-ism, but just living your faith in the marketplace, and expressing your faith in thanksgiving to the one who redeemed you from the pit of your sin – Jesus Christ.

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