Intro: We have come to a sad chapter in the book of Mark. These verses display the hatred of men is all its ugliness. According to verses 1-2, the religious Jews are fed up with Jesus and His preaching. They want Him dead and they do not care what they have to do to see that come to pass.
Verse 1 says that they want to “take Him by craft”. The word “craft” refers to “a trick”. They are trying to devise a plot to trap Jesus so they can have Him executed.
Why are they so angry? They are upset because Jesus has exposed their hypocrisy. They claimed to be spiritual, godly men and Jesus has proved them to be nothing more than religious phonies. Jesus made a fool out them in front of the common people, and they will not stand for that!
They are also angry because Jesus is hurting their business. The religious leaders controlled the commerce down at the Temple. They approved who sold the sheep and the birds and the other items used in the sacrifices. They charged a fee for the vendors to sell there, and for the moneychangers to set up their booths there. They also collected a percentage of all sells made there. When Jesus threw the sellers and the money changers out of the Temple, they determined in their hearts that Jesus had to go!
As we move through this passage, we will discover the truth that money matters just a little too much to some people. They will be fine until you use money for something they disagree with, then they get disagreeable.
While this passage reveals human nature at its worst, there is also a picture here of human nature at its best. Jesus contrasts the hatred of His enemies against the unconditional love of one of His precious followers.
I. THE DEMONSTRATION OF UNRESTRAINED LOVE-VS. 3
I. THE DEMONSTRATION OF UNRESTRAINED LOVE-VS. 3
A. The Setting For The Demonstration
A. The Setting For The Demonstration
– These events took place in the little town of Bethany, which was located on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, just a few miles from Jerusalem. Bethany was a favorite location for Jesus. He had some very good friends who lived there. These friends were siblings, and their names were Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Jesus often visited them in their home and benefited from their hospitality, Luke 10:38-42. It was also this Lazarus that died and brought back to life by the Lord Jesus, John 11:1-44. So, Bethany was a special place for the Lord Jesus.
We are also told that this event occurred in the home of a man called “Simon the leper”. It would appear that this man had been healed from leprosy by Jesus and throws a feast in the Lord’s honor to thank Him for what he has done in his life.
If the Lord has ever done anything for you, you will be thankful for it! Apparently, Jesus had saved Simon’s life. This man’s heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for what Jesus has done for him and he wants to thank the Lord! I praise the Lord for those people who are excited about what the Lord has done for them. (Ill. What He has done for us in Jesus! He is worthy of our praise, our love, our adoration and our worship!)
We are told in John’s account of this same event that Martha is there serving, Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, is there and so is Mary. In fact, it is Mary who performs this demonstration of extravagant love for the Lord Jesus Christ, John 12:1-8.
It is a scene of love. Jesus is surrounded, for the most part, by people who genuinely love Him, and by people who truly care for Him. Notice what they are doing. The Bible says, “He sat at meat”. They are together, enjoying fellowship over a meal. Did you know that a lot of the fellowship people had with Jesus in the Gospel was experienced during the course of a meal? I like that too! I think it is wonderful when we gather for worship, for prayer, for testimonies, for singings, and the other things we do at church. There is something really special about sitting down with you to fellowship over a meal. Some folk don’t like it. They don’t believe in “eating at church”. That’s fine, but don’t rain on my parade! I happen to enjoy fellowshipping with the saints of God over a meal!
B. The Sacrifice Of The Demonstration – As Jesus sits there at that meal, Mary enters the room. She has with her “an alabaster box” filled with “ointment of spikenard”. We are told that this ointment was “very precious”. She broke that box and she poured the contents of it on the head of the Lord Jesus. John also tells us that she “anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.” This is an extravagant demonstration of love that deserves a few moments of our time.
This box is actually a flask. Within that flask was a substance called “spikenard”, or just “nard”. It is a red-tinted ointment that is drawn from a plant that grows in India. It was a perfume that was used in the embalming process. It was so expensive that only the very wealthy could afford to purchase it. We are told in verse 5that it was worth “300 pence”. This is a year’s pay for the average worker. In today’s economy, Mary’s gift was worth around $20,000.000. It was an extravagant gift.
So, Mary enters the room, breaks the neck of that flask, she pours some of the ointment on the Lord’s head, the rest she pours out on His feet. Then, she falls down before Jesus and washes the Lord’s feet with her hair. It was an extravagant gift! John says that when she did this, “the house was filled with the odour of the ointment,” John 12:3. This was a very extravagant gift!
C. The Statement In The Demonstration – Why did Mary do this? Was she trying to impress the people who had gathered for the feast? Was she trying to prove how much she loved Jesus? I think this act of extravagant love was for the benefit of Christ alone. When she came that day, broke that flask, anointed the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair, she was making a statement! In fact, she was making several statements.
· She was making a statement about her commitment to Him. When she broke the flask, there was no going back! The entire contents of that vessel would have to be used. Her commitment to Him was unconditional and complete.
· She was making a statement about His value to her. She had probably saved her entire life to be able to purchase that flask of ointment. She was probably saving it for her own burial. When she broke that flask and poured out its contents, she was telling Jesus, “You mean more to me than anything in the world!”
· She was making a statement about her value to herself. By this act, Mary was demonstrating that Jesus meant more to her than her own reputation. She sacrificed her pride in order to serve Him. She was saying “I love you so much that I do not care what anyone thinks about my expression of extravagant love!” Two things that she did prove this truth.
Ø First, only prostitutes were seen in public with their hair down. At that moment, she didn’t care what anyone thought of here, she merely wanted to express her extravagant love to her Lord!
Ø Second, Only slaves washed the feet of others. When a person came to your home, you offered the water so they could wash their own feet, or if you had slaves, you had them wash the feet. Mary took the place of a slave before the Lord! She humbled herself before Him and she served Him because she loved Him.
· She was making a statement about the value of her possessions. To Mary, nothing in the world was as valuable to her as Jesus. She loved Him with an extravagant love and everything she possessed was His anyway. She loved the Lord more than she loved her things!
It was common in those days to put a few drops of perfume on the head of an honored guest when they arrived at your home. Mary broke the flask and poured out every drop on Jesus because she loved Him!
· She was making a statement about His worthiness to be worshiped and served. Why did Mary do this? Well, she did it because she was thankful. She was thankful because Jesus was her Redeemer. He had saved her soul from sin and she was filled with love for that act. She also did it because the Lord had raised her dead brother Lazarus from the dead. She was so overwhelmed with love for Him that she willingly gave up all that she had in one act of selfless, extravagant worship. On top of that, Mary believed that Jesus was going to die on a cross, v. 8. She believed a truth that the disciples couldn’t grasp. As far as she knew, this would be the last time she would have to serve Him and to honor Him. She seized the opportunity and made it count for the glory of God!
· I am sure there were more statements made by Mary’s act, but these speak volumes to us.
(Note: When was last time you offered the Lord an offering of extravagant love? When was the last time you broke the bank worshiping Him? When was the last time you threw away your pride and gave Him worship, honor and praise? When was the last time you selflessly served the Lord Who saved your soul from Hell? How long has it been since you placed everything you have, everything you are and everything you care about on the altar of sacrifice before Him?
We don’t see a lot of extravagant love for Jesus in these days. There are very few people who love Him more than they love themselves, their own agenda, their possessions or their comfort. There are very few who are willing to serve Him with no thought of anything in return. There are very few who will sacrifice their pride and their possessions so that the Lord might be honored by their giving. There are not many who love Him extravagantly!
Look at your own life in light of Mary’s statements of faith.
· Are you totally committed to Jesus in extravagant love and worship? That is His will for our lives, Rom. 12:1-2.
· Is Jesus more valuable to you than the things you possess in life? Are you willing to give up all that you have so that you might express extravagant love for Him?
· Is He worth more to you than your pride? Have you reached a place in your walk with Him where you no longer care what others think about you? Are you willing to suffer shame if it brings glory to Him?
· This lost world needs to witness our expressions of extravagant love for the Lord Jesus Christ. It is time the church fell head over heels in love with Jesus once again.
Far too many are like the fellow who called his girlfriend up one day and said, “Darling, I love you! I would climb the highest mountain for you! I would swim the deepest river for you! I would fight a jungle full of lions for you! I love you! And, if it doesn’t rain tonight, I will be over to see you.”
Too often, we love the Lord when it is convenient. We love Him between 11:00 and 12:00 on Sunday. We love Him when loving Him fits within our schedule!
We love Him when loving Him doesn’t get in the way of what we want to do, where we want to go and what we want to accomplish in life. We love Him to a point, but very few ever love Him with reckless abandon. Very few ever love Him with true extravagant love!
We treat His house like worship attendance is optional. We come once a week and act like God ought to be honored that we even showed up. We throw a dollar in the offering plate and think we have given. We live our lives on our own schedule and by our own rules and say we are living for the Lord. We fuss, grip and complain about everything in the world and we want everyone to know what a committed Christian we are. We are as hypocritical as the Scribes and Pharisees!
May Mary’s gift make us ashamed of our tepid, self-centered, half-hearted love for the One Who did everything for us! I can’t speak for you, but this passage convicts my heart! I want to love Him with extravagant love. I want to love Him so much that He has control of me and all that I possess and all that I am. I want to love Him without shame, without fear and without foolish pride getting in the way. I want to love Him like Mary loved Him. After all, He has done as much for me, and maybe more, than He did for her!)
I. The Demonstration Of Unrestrained Love
II. THE DISCOURAGEMENT OF UNRESTRAINED LOVE-VS. 4-5
II. THE DISCOURAGEMENT OF UNRESTRAINED LOVE-VS. 4-5
(Ill. Mary’s demonstration of extravagant love is wonderful to behold. I wish the words that were spoken in verses 4-5 had never been uttered. But, we need the truth taught in those two verses. We need to be reminded of the truth that not everyone appreciates extravagant worship. Not everyone thinks the Lord is worthy of such lofty praise. In fact, some people seem to believe it is their calling in life to be as cheap in their love for the Lord as possible. There is a word here for and about people with that attitude.)
A. An Attack – The Bible tells us that some of those standing there were moved with “indignation”. The word means “to be very displeased”. They were not happy with what Mary had done to Jesus! They went so far as to say that her act of selfless worship was nothing more than a “waste”. That word refers to something that is “utterly destroyed; ruined; and perished”. They looked at the ointment on the head of Jesus and they looked at the ointment on and around His feet and they said, “What a waste! The ointment is ruined and is now good for nothing!”
B. An Accounting – Then one of the disciples, according to John 12:4-5, it was Judas Iscariot, calculated that the ointment would have been worth “300 pence”. Or, as I said earlier, it was worth about $20,000.00.
C. An Accusation – Then Judas, and the rest, declare that the ointment should have been sold. They could have then taken the money and given it to the poor. This sounds good, and it sounds spiritual. However, John 12:6 says, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
When Judas Iscariot says what he does about the ointment, eleven voices echo in agreement. The problem was, Judas was a thief, John 12:6. If the ointment has been sold and the money given to Judas to keep, a small portion would have been given to help the poor, but the majority would have lined his pockets!
(Note: This is a sad scene. Here is a woman who loves Jesus more than she loves her life, her wealth or her possessions. She sacrificed her pride and her precious ointment because she wanted to worship and honor the Lord Jesus. She worshiped Him publically, openly, sacrificially and extravagantly. She gave away all she had to worship Him. Her worship was expensive and extravagant!
Yet, her extravagant love is misunderstood and misinterpreted by the Lord’s disciples. They ridiculed her and tried to make her feel bad for the thing she did for Jesus. Why did they treat her this way?
They treated her like they did because they did not have the same heart of love for Jesus that she had. She loved Him more than life and she was willing to give Him all that she had in response. They were upset because they did not think He was worthy of the same kind of love that she deemed Him worthy of.
We still see this mentality at work. People give themselves to all kinds of pursuits in life. Some give themselves to money and people call them a success. Some give themselves to sports, they become star athletes and people call them heroes. Some give themselves to politics and are called great civic leaders. Some give themselves to academics and people talk about how wonderful they are because they are intellectual. But, you let a talented young man or woman give themselves to a life of service to the Lord Jesus Christ and people will say, “What a waste!” (Ill. Jerry Vines and the Dean of Mercer College)
I have reached the conclusion that no matter what you do in life, if you do not do it for the glory of God and to honor the Lord Jesus it is a waste of time, money and energy! As the poet said:
Only one life,
Will soon be past.
Only what’s done for
Christ will last.)
I don’t care how much money you make; how much education you get; how much you do for the people around you, or anything else you want to name; if you do not do what you do for the glory of God, it means nothing. It is a waste! That’s what Jesus said, Mark 8:36-37.
(Note: Of course, you see the same thing in the church. There are times when the church will decide to do something that some folks in the church may disagree with. Usually, what that means is the church spends money on something they don’t agree with, or on something they would label a “waste”. When that happens, some people will stop tithing, like they are going to punish the church for spending money in a way they disapprove of. Those same people will mount a verbal campaign of criticism to try and enlist others to their point of view.
Let me just go on record today and tell you that it takes money to run a church. If a church is going to grow, expand its ministries and provide things for its members, it takes resources. If you have a problem with that, you need to take it up with the Lord. If I were you, I wouldn’t threaten God by withholding the things that belong to Him. The Bible says, “The tithe is the Lord’s”, Lev. 27:30. That is a dangerous game to pay, and you will be the loser in the end, Mal. 3:8-10; Hab. 1.)
(Note: Why do people act and think this way? In the end, it is because they are just like Judas. Judas was upset because he wasn’t getting anything out of what was being done. Because he felt left out, he lashed out! So it is with people today. They see the Lord working, blessing and moving and they don’t like how everything that is being done, they attack it. It is nothing more than self-centered thinking! People who do that can see nothing but the material side of life. They criticize and they gripe about what the church does with the offerings. They are materially minded and have no concept of spiritual things. If everything for you in seen in terms of dollars and cents, you will miss out on much of what the Lord is doing in this world. He wants individuals and churches to love Him extravagantly!)
(Note: You night as well face this truth today: if you decide to give Jesus extravagant worship, you will be criticized by people who do not feel the way about Him that you do. If you shout, testify, cry and give Him vocal and visible praise, you will be criticized by people who don’t. If you give your resources to Him, you will be criticized by people who think it is wasteful. If your church grows and uses the resources God gives her to expand her ministries, some will criticize what the church is doing.
What should our response be? What was Mary’s response? As far as we know, she didn’t make one. She just loved Jesus, gave Him extravagant worship and did not worry about the consequences! In other words, just keep loving Him, Keep giving to Him. Keep praising Him. Keep on displaying extravagant love, and He will get the glory!)
I. The Demonstration Of Unrestrained Love
II. The Discouragement Of Unrestrained Love
III. THE DEFENSE OF UNRESTRAINED LOVE-VS. 6-9
III. THE DEFENSE OF UNRESTRAINED LOVE-VS. 6-9
(Ill. When Jesus knows what His men are thinking and saying, He comes to Mary’s defense. As Jesus deals with Mary, He makes several statements that affirm the truth that He willingly received her gift of extravagant love. These statements make it clear that Jesus saw her sacrifice for what it was: a gift of extravagant love! Let’s look at these statements together today.)
· Mark 14:6, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me” – I think it is clear from this statement that the Lord’s heart is grieved by the attitude of His men. Mary has given Him extravagant love and they have given Him nothing! She gave Him the best she had and they are attacking her for simply loving Jesus! They looked at her gift and they called it a “waste”.
Jesus looked at what she did and He said, “she hath wrought a good work on me.” The word “good” means “beautiful”. The disciples said, “It is a waste!” Jesus said, “It is beautiful!” What Mary did was extravagant, and it bothered the greedy disciples; but it blessed the Lord Jesus. He took Mary’s common act of anointing His head and washing His feet and elevated it into the realm of a spiritual work.
The Bible is clear that God’s people are to be engaged in good works, Eph. 2:10; James 2:18; 1 Pet. 2:9. Do you know how to take a common act and elevate it to an act of spiritual worship? All you have to do is do it solely for the Lord! When you do even the smallest thing for His glory, it becomes an act of extravagant love and worship, Matt. 10:40-42.
It may be a monetary gift; a song of praise; a humble testimony; a loud shout; a lifted hand; a kind word; a cold cup of water; or anything else you want to name. If it is given for His glory and in His name it becomes an act of extravagant worship for His glory!
It all comes down to who you do things for. If you do them for yourself, you have your reward. If you do them for others only, you have your reward. If you do them for the glory of God, as an act of extravagant love and worship, you will have His reward!
· Mark 14:7, “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” – Jesus is not saying that we should not help the poor. We should help them and we should do our best to meet the needs of those around us. Jesus is simply saying that Mary seized the moment! The poor would always be there, but she knew that Jesus was going to the cross to die for sin and sinners. She took advantage of the opportunity she was afforded and she gave Him extravagant love and worship.
So it is with us! These lives we live are fleeting at best. We must learn to seize those moments when we are given opportunities the serve the Lord. When you are in that good, spiritual service and the Lord is moving in power and glory, don’t waste the moment. Gove Him extravagant love! When the moment presents itself to witness, to give, to serve Him, don’t waste the moment! Give Him the extravagant love that He is due! When you have the means and the opportunity to give to the Lord’s work, don’t waste the opportunity! Invest in the work of the Lord and give Him extravagant worship!
Soon, our lives will be over. The Bible challenges us to seize the moment, John 9:4; Eph. 5:16. That is why I can’t turn down an opportunity to preach the Word of God. That is why we should be faithful to the house of God. That is why we should be active in C.A.R.E. and the other outreach ministries of our church. That is why we need to be at Sunday School. That is why we need to come to prayer meeting, that is why we need to support our youth ministry. That is why we need to back the church with our presence, our prayers, our time and our treasure. The day will come when we will not have the opportunities we have today!
· Mark 14:8, “She hath done what she could” – There was a lot that Mary could not do. She could not prepare Him a meal, there just wasn’t time. She could not make Him a garment, again, there just wasn’t time. She could not take His place in Gethsemane or at Calvary. She could not take away the shame, the rejection, the hatred or any of the other pains Jesus experienced. There was a lot that she could not do. But, there was one thing she could do! She had a flask of expensive anointing ointment. She was saving it for herself, but she chose in that moment to take what she did have and to use it for the glory of God!
There is a powerful lesson here for the saints of God. We cannot do everything, but we must learn to take what we have and do what we can with it! You can’t evangelize the whole world, but you can tell one person at a time about Jesus! You can’t feed every starving person in the world, but you can feed some. You can’t help everybody, but you can help some people! You can’t do it all, but you can take what you have and use it for the glory of God!
I can’t preach everywhere, but I can walk through the open doors God gives me! I can’t give everything the church needs, but I can give my tithes and offerings for the Lord to use in this local body. I can’t teach every preacher the things I have learned, but I can teach the ones God leads into my classes. My duty is to do what I can!
That is all God asks of you! Do what you can! You can’t do it all, but there are some things you can do! Pray, witness, work, give, be faithful, read your Bible, support the church, help your neighbor, teach your Sunday School class; do what you can! By the way, you won’t be able to do the things you do now forever, but you can teach others how to do it so they can step in when you can’t.
One of these days I am going to die. I will preach my last sermon, pray my last prayer and render my last service to Jesus and His church. When that day comes, I want Him to be able to say about me, “He did what He could!” Isn’t that what you want too? Are you doing all that you can? Are you doing what you can?
· Mark 14:8, “she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying” – Jesus had been telling His disciples that He was going to the cross to die for sin. They never did believe Him! They doubted Him until after he was dead and risen again! Mary, on the other hand, believed the Lord! She knew where He was headed. She was walking by faith and she knew that she would not be there when they placed His body in the grave. She was serving Him by faith, trusting that everything He said was true
This is another lesson we can learn from Mary’s extravagant love gift. She gave Him love, worship, service and sacrifice, because she was walking with Him by faith.
That is what He wants from us. He simply wants us to love Him, to trust Him and to believe Him. He doesn’t want us to have to have all the answers. He just wants us to believe Him.
Ø He wants us to trust Him with our needs – Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:19
Ø He wants us to trust Him with our service to Him – Heb. 13:5
Ø He wants us to take Him at His word and trust Him to do what is right!
· Mark 14:9, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” – This is an amazing statement! The disciples looked at what Mary did and they cried: “Waste!” Jesus looked at it and He said: “Beautiful!” Jesus said that this gift of extravagant love from Mary would be retold everywhere the Gospel would be preached! For 2,000 years that statement has been proven true! For 2,000 years people have been motivated to give my Mary’s extravagant gift to Jesus. For 2,000 years people have been blessed, challenged and stirred by what this one woman did!
Jesus took what Mary did and He put it in what Dr. Jerry Vines calls “His memory box”. That’s not all God has in there! He has the two mites that widow gave at the Temple. His has that broken ointment bottle. He has the gold, frankincense and myrrh of the wise men. He has the worship of the shepherds. He has the testimonies of the Gaderene demoniac, the tenth leper, the man who was born blind, the man who lay at the Pool of Bethesda for 38 years, and many others. He has the faith of the dying thief, the Roman centurion, and Zacchaeus. He has the gratitude of the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus, the widow of Nain, and a myriad of others. He has all this and more in His memory box. He never forgets and they will all be rewarded for their love, their faith and their worship of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Ill. In the Tabernacle there were certain utensils called “snuffdishes” or “snuffboxes”. This is not referring to “Tops”, “Red Rooster”, “Garretts”, or “Square”. These boxes were used to store the wicks that had burned out in the Tabernacle. When a wick burned out, it was not thrown away, it was saved in the “snuffdishes”. Those wicks burned in the Tabernacle and gave off light to those within. They represented service to God.
God is teaching us that everything that represents true service to Him will never be forgotten. Those things are noted by Him and they possess lasting, eternal value. There will come a day when He will reward His servants for their service of extravagant worship for His glory. Ill. Mark 9:41, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Ill. Matt. 25:34-40.) (Ill. Paul – 2 Tim. 4:6-8!)
When was the last time I demonstrated UNRESTRAINED LOVE for HIM?
When was the last time I demonstrated UNRESTRAINED LOVE for HIM?
Mary did what she could and she was rewarded accordingly. Have you done what you could? Are you doing what you can? Are you giving our Lord demonstrations of extravagant worship? Has He spoken to you about this matter? I know He has spoken to me about it. I want to give Him all the glory, worship and praise He is due. When I think of all He has done for me, I know He is worthy of that and so much more.
I challenge you today to look at how you are serving Him and how you are loving Him. Is there room for improvement? If He has spoken to your heart, on any level, come to Him now and do what He wants you to do.
Some need to come and be saved. Some need to come and repent of a bad attitude. Some need to come and give Him some extravagant love right now. Some need to make things right with your fellow believers, your church and your Lord.
We all need to examine our motives, our love and our worship. When you consider what Mary did, how does your own love stack up? Is it extravagant? Or, does it seem to be lacking? Listen to His voice! Do what He tells you right now.