It was Wednesday of Holy Week, two days before Jesus’ death upon the cross. Tuesday night, the Savior left the bustling city of Jerusalem to spend the night in Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus whom He raised from the dead and Lazarus’ two sisters Mary and Martha. I call Wednesday “The Day the Son Stood Still.” (Jn.12:1-6)
It was the only day that Jesus did not venture forth into Jerusalem. The only thing recorded in any of the four gospels that Jesus did was to eat a meal in the home of Simon the Leper, with his friend Lazarus, joining Him for dinner.
While Jesus was eating, Mary, slipped quietly into the room. She carried an alabaster container containing a full pound of very precious perfumed ointment. It would have cost nearly a year’s wages for the average person. Without question, it was Mary’s most precious possession. Mary had probably used some of the ointment before, on special occasions, certainly some to anoint the dead body of her brother Lazarus; but there was still enough here to last the rest of her life.
No one noticed her movement across the room or what was in her hands. Martha was busy serving the table, and Jesus and the disciples were absorbed in conversation. Mary eased up behind the Savior and with a simple motion broke open the box and poured the entirety of its precious contents over the head of her Lord. Immediately the room was hushed, and all eyes focused upon her and Jesus. The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment and with the testimony of Mary’s extravagant love.
But Mary was not finished with her act of worship. She moved silently down to Jesus’ feet, and with the ointment that had clung to her hands as she anointed the Master’s head, she anointed His feet as well. Then, in an act of self-denial and humiliation, she loosed her hair that was always tightly bound upon her head, for no self-respecting Jewish woman would let her hair down before the men of a city. Mary let her hair fall to her waist and then threw it over her shoulders and wiped the excess ointment off of the feet of her Lord.
I am convinced that Mary’s worship was motivated not only by what Jesus had already done for Lazarus, but by what she understood Jesus was about to do. He was going to the cross, and He was going there for her. She had sat at His feet before and heard Him teach, and she understood. He was going to die upon that cross and pay the penalty for her sin. As she thought about His sacrifice, no gift she could offer was precious enough to express the gratitude of her soul. Worshipping Him in genuineness and humility, offering the best she had, was all she knew to do to express the love and devotion of her heart.
This beautiful act of worship shows us the extravagance of genuine love. We all recognize the difference between giving out of obligation and giving out of love. When we are obliged to give, we ask, “How little can I spend and still do what is considered acceptable?” But giving out of genuine love is very different. As William Barclay says, “Love never calculates; love never thinks how little it can decently give; love’s one desire is to give to the uttermost limits; and, when it has given all it has to give, it still thinks the gift too little.”
And you might be saying, “Pastor, don’t you wish people gave like that today?” But I tell you, “No! I wish people loved like that today. Then the giving would take care of itself.”
You see, our problem is not resources we have or lack at any particular time. The Lord taught that our giving is to be proportional. If we have very few resources, like the widow who gave two pennies, God considers the little we give to be large.
Crises like we are experiencing now expose what and who we love the most. We protect what and who we love. We provide for what and who we love, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. It is tempting hold back, not out of lack of resources, but out of fear we will not have enough.
That is one of the reasons that Jesus said that Mary’s act would be remembered as a memorial to her as long as the gospel was preached. Her extravagant act was motivated solely out of love, contrary to common sense, contrary to popular opinion, contrary to custom – just love, and still her love could not match the love that Jesus had for her. Nor could her gift match His gift.
Forty-eight hours before He went to the cross, Jesus took nearly a full day and stood still. I wonder if we might not should take at least a few minutes and consider the love and adoration Mary demonstrated to her Lord in light of our own.
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9:00am - Choir Led Service (minus the choir)
11:00am - Band Led Service
St. Andrew Baptist Church
3010 W. 15th Street
Panama City, FL 32401
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