[Originally posted Jan. 29, 2006]
In our culture of restrained emotions, self-centeredness and pragmatism, it is healthy to take time to meditate on the supreme example of devotion to Christ demonstrated by Mary of Bethany in the memorable biblical account (Matthew 26:6-13). Pastor Thomas F. Leake of Hope Bible Church reminded us in his message this past Sunday of that worthy sacrifice of the anointing of Jesus with the costly vial of perfume (worth about a year’s wages). The pragmatic part of us would have been echoing the words of Judas: “Why this waste!”
But the unique opportunity to show devotion to Christ and prepare His body for burial far outweighed any ongoing responsibility to more practical needs. I was reminded of my earlier study on the parallel passage from John 12:1-11.
ANOINTED FOR BURIAL… CELEBRATING RESURRECTION
COSTLY DEMONSTRATIONS OF GENUINE DEVOTION TO CHRIST CAN TAKE PRIORITY OVER ONGOING RESPONSIBILITIES OF CHARITABLE GIVING
I. (:1-3) SWEET DEVOTION – ESSENCE OF TRUE WORSHIP
A. (:1) The Description of the Setting – Connection Between Death and Resurrection
Timing – Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross Imminent: “six days before the Passover”
Location: “came to Bethany”
Significance ? Resurrection Power: “where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.’
B. (:2) The Details of the Event ? Celebration Meal of Fellowship with Close Friends
Fellowship Meal: “So they made Him a supper there,”
Dedicated Service: “and Martha was serving;”
Intimate Companionship (another form of worship): “but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him”
C. (:3) The Demonstration of Devotion — Costly Anointing
The Cost of Devotion ? Nothing but the Best: “Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard”
nothing too extravagant when it comes to expressing love
opening herself up to rebuke and criticism; but motivated by love
The Humility of Devotion (another form of worship): “and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair;”
The Sweet Fragrance of Devotion: “and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Devotion to Christ has a pleasing impact on other believers.
II. (:4-8) SLIMY DECEIT ? HEART OF A TRAITOR ? COUNTERFEIT LOVE
A. (:4-6) Pretense of Spirituality by Judas
(:4) Consider the Source: “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said”
(:5) Sounds Like a Plan: “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?
Objection sounds super spiritual; but masks his lack of genuine love.
(:6) Ulterior Motives: “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.”
B. (:7-8) Priority of Devotion to Christ
(:7) Restraining Order: “Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial.”
(:8) Reordering of Priorities: “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me
Mary must have known that opposition to Jesus was mounting and there may not be any more opportunities to so express her devotion. How are we maximizing our opportunities?
III. (:9-11) SNOWBALLING DISSENSION – DIFFERENT REACTIONS
A. (:9) Snowballing Curiosity (regarding both Jesus and Lazarus): “The great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus? sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead
B. (:10) Snowballing Plotting (to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus): “But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also
C. (:11) Snowballing Faith: “because on account of him many of the Jews were going away, and were believing in Jesus.”