GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 46
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|We’re going to talk about Extravagant Worship. Right in the beginning, this is kind of just a background to the introduction of what we’re going to get into at Bethany.|
This morning, we’re going to talk about Extravagant Worship. Mark 14:1: “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 [underline that word] and kill him, for they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.’ 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. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 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. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 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.’”
Right in the beginning, this is kind of just a background to the introduction of what we’re going to get into at Bethany. But write down, first of all, the attacks of the leaders. Now, we’ve known this for some time now, because we’ve known this back in chapter 12 and even in chapter 13 of how Jesus, after coming into town, was attacked by the religious leaders. Go back to chapter 12. We see that He was attacked by the Herodians and the Pharisees, verse 13; we see that He was attacked by the Sadducees in verse 18; you can even go back to Mark 11:27, He was attacked by the priests and the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. He was attacked by all these religious groups.
What’s interesting, go back to Mark 14, Mark only indentifies two different groups who are out to arrest Him and kill Him. And who were they? Look at your text. What does it say? The what? The chief priests and the scribes. These two groups were out to get Jesus.
It says they were trying to seek Him. That word seek is an interesting word. It’s the word not to just find, it’s the word to gain power over or to gain control over. And they were seeking to do this by stealth. It means they wanted to do it under cover. They were incognito. They wanted to do it so that no one knew that they did it and it shows you how corrupt the chief priests and the scribes were.
There’s a subtle connection here in the text and I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it but you notice that Mark begins by saying it’s right before the Passover, almost giving us the hint that, in the distance, the chief priests are about to sacrifice the Passover Lamb and offer up that Lamb as a sacrifice for the sins of Israel. And isn’t it a connection, interestingly enough, that Jesus Christ Himself is being attacked to be killed as the Passover Lamb for all the sins of the world. I don’t want to put a lot of weight in that, but I thought that was interesting. So we see right out of the gate the attacks of the leaders.
Write down, secondly—this is where we’ll spend most of our time—the adoration of the woman. You see the adoration of the woman. Each of the gospels describes an anointing story. Matthew, Mark, and John, I believe, are of the same account, although they have distinctive details that are different. It’s just three eyewitness different accounts that are giving the same story. I don’t believe the Luke account is the same story as this one, because it’s in a different part of the timeline of the history of Jesus.
Now, in order for us to understand this, we have to understand where Bethany was. Bethany is two miles on the eastern side of Jerusalem, out of Jerusalem beyond the Mount of Olives. Now, I want to show you—go back to Mark 11:1—Jesus has set up camp in Bethany. When Jesus came in in the triumphal entry, it says that He drew near Jerusalem to Bethphage and what? And Bethany. Look at verse 11: “And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Look at verse 12. “On the following day, when they came from Bethany….” Jesus has been living here for the last few days. He’s set up camp here and it’s interesting that He’s at the house of somebody. We don’t know whose house He’s been at, but we know whose house He is at now, and it’s Simon the Leper.
By piecing together the accounts, we can start to figure out the characters of the scene. The first one that comes on the scene is Mary, or the unnamed woman. We can understand by piecing the different accounts together that this is Mary, the sister of Martha, the sister of Lazarus. We know this from John 11. When Jesus comes to town Mary and Martha greet Him, and they say Our brother, Lazarus, is what? He’s dead. And they’re weeping and they’re saying, Jesus, why’d you wait so long? And Jesus says, Don’t weep because he’s only sleeping.
But then they invite Him into the house. Simon the Leper is the host. He’s throwing this enormous party. And it says in the text—I’m going to show you the Jewishness of Jesus—look what it says: He was reclining at the table. And what they would have done is they would have spent the night talking and conversation. Now, this isn’t like us today. Many of us don’t like to get together and talk until the wee hours of the night, but that’s what they did. In fact, what we like to do is get together and watch college football together or Dancing with the Stars. But that’s not what they would have done. They would have gotten together and they would have talked for hours and hours.
Now, our society is changing, if you haven’t realized it. We were at a restaurant the other night, Kandi and I. I was looking over at the couple next to me and there was a couple on a date and both of them had their cell phones out texting other people, across from one another. That’s just the world we live in. But that wouldn’t have happened in Jesus’ day. They would have gotten together and they would have talked until the wee hours of the night. And they would have talked about just amazing things that would have been happening.
And then all of a sudden out of the corner of their eye, here comes this woman, and the woman has something in her hand. It’s an expensive bottle of nard. That nard was made from the root of an Indian herb. And the woman would have come in. Now this would have been shocking. If you would have been one of the men at the table, this was not proper etiquette for a woman to come in and interrupt the conversation of a man for any other reason other than serving food. You have to understand how caught off guard these men are that this woman would have the audacity to enter.
She comes in with this bottle and she takes this bottle. It’s interesting how Mark notes that it could have been sold for over 300 days wages or 300 denarii. One denarius is a day’s wage. This woman had a bottle in her hand that was the equivalent of 300 days wages. Can you imagine that? That’s the equivalent of you giving your entire salary for a year as a gift. Mary took everything she had. This is the most expensive thing that she owned. Let me put it in perspective and give you a contrast as to just how expensive this gift is. A couple of chapters earlier, we saw the widow’s mite. We saw this woman give in to the offering 1/64th of a day’s wage, 1/64th of a day’s wage. Mary is giving 300 days wages, which is the equivalent of $15,000 to $20,000 gift to Jesus. I want you to feel the weight of that—$15,000 to $20,000 gift to our Lord.
So here’s the question: how in the world does a woman possess something like this when the culture of her day precluded her from searching and making a career for herself and even having her own income? Where did she get this expensive bottle of nard from? That’s an honest question and I believe the only logical answer is that it was a family heirloom or it was a gift. She had had this in her family. It was something that was special to her. It was a gift to her. It was a prized possession in her life.
And notice what she does. She brings it before the Lord Jesus Christ, carrying this long, marble bottle with a long slender neck. Most people, what they would do is they would take the top off. They would pop the top. They would be careful to pour out one drop of this perfume or this expensive nard onto the body of someone. They didn’t have deodorant back in those days, so this would have caused them to smell better. It was a way to freshen the house up to make it smell better. And what they would do is take one drop and pour it out. But not Mary. What does Mary do? The text says. She comes out and it says she actually breaks the flask. And I want you to notice this; the smell infuses the house. It just invades the house.
Go to John 12. John has the same story. He tells it a little differently. Verse 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 perfume from the fragrance filled the house. Look at what he says.]The house was filled….” Now you can understand that, because if you’ve ever sprayed a little cologne on yourself or perfume, it’ll smell around you in the vicinity. But imagine breaking this bottle in the house and just dousing and dumping it on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The woman comes in, she brings the bottle, she breaks the bottle, she bows down before the Lord Jesus Christ and she blessed Him. It goes above and beyond. She doesn’t just wipe Him with her hands; it says in the text she wipes Him with her hair, an incredible, extravagant act of worship.
I want you to notice the atmosphere in the house that day. If you would have been there, it would have been electric. Simon the Leper is there. Simon the Leper, as a leper, would have lived most of his life, if not all, isolated and alone. Did you know that? Lepers were outcasts. They were outsiders. As soon as they would come out of their house, people would run for fear of being infected by this disease. This man was an outsider his entire life. He was a social reject and society wanted nothing to do with him. And we can deduce from the text that, since he’s sitting there in the presence of Jesus, he’s no longer a leper because Jesus and the disciples would have never been able to come in contact with a leper. So it shows us that Jesus was the one who probably healed him. It is safe to say Simon the Leper is thankful that Jesus is sitting in his house? Isn’t it amazing? He goes from being an outcast to hosting a party and a banquet where Jesus is the honored guest. Simon the Leper is excited to be there.
In addition to that, Mary and Martha are there. Now they’re excited because just a few chapters earlier in John, Jesus comes to their town. Their brother is dead in a cave for three days. The funeral procession is out. People are moaning and wailing. And Jesus says Move the stone. I’m going to bring your brother back to life. It’s safe to say they’re thankful that Jesus is there. But I think Lazarus is probably the most thankful of all. You guys are okay. I mean, you were a leper and that’s fine. And you girls were upset over me being dead. But guess what? I was the dead man! I was in the grave clothes! It was over for me. And Jesus Christ brought me back to life. You can sense the thankfulness and gratitude in the air. Everyone is excited that Jesus is there except Judas. Judas is there.
It shows us the third aspect of the text. Not only do we see the adoration of the woman. We see a contrast with the arrogance of the disciples, the arrogance of the disciples. Now, did you catch this in the text when we were reading it? There’s a contrast in the text between the love and compassion of Mary and the treachery and selfishness of Judas. It’s a huge contrast in the text here. Look at verse 4: “There were some [who were there] who said to themselves indignantly [it’s a key word], Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they scolded her.” They attacked her. They persecuted her.
Judas is the one who’s saying this. Go back to John 12. John gives us an insight that it’s actually Judas who starts the conversation. Look at John 12:4: “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray [Jesus]), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’” When is Judas all of a sudden worried about the poor? Judas is only worried about himself. But I want you to see below the surface of that conversation is a man who is bent on himself. Matthew 26:8 gives us something else surprising: “And when the disciples saw [this]….”I mean, I can understand Judas, but what about these other guys who were following Jesus? When they saw it, they chimed in. It says they were indignant.
That same word indignant is used in Mark 10:46. Remember the story? Jesus and the two apostles, disciples, John and James, were walking with the rest of the crew behind. And they go to Jesus and they say, Jesus, we want you to do for us whatever we ask. Jesus says, Okay, what do you want me to do? We want you to grant one of us to sit one at the left hand and one at the right hand when you come in glory. Remember that? And it says when the other disciples heard about this conversation, guess what they became? Indignant. It means to be upset. They were aggravated. They were blown away. This is the same mentality when this woman anoints Jesus with this oil. They are literally blown away. You know what it shows me? That by Judas putting a price tag on the nard, it shows me that he completely missed the price of the gift; because the price of the gift by the woman out of pure love is priceless.
Judas is only worried about money. Look at Mark 14:10: “Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray [Jesus] to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him….” What? Money. Judas, the treasurer of the ministry, was always worried about money. He said Why this waste when we could have given this to the poor?
See, the difference between Judas and Mary is that Mary did it out of love. Mary took the most precious thing she possessed and spent it all on the Lord Jesus Christ. Judas took the Lord Jesus Christ and sold Him out for money. See the connection? Mary took all she had and gave it to the Lord. Judas took everything that he could have had and sold Him out to the chief priests. William Barclay says Love does not neatly calculate less or more. It is not concerned to see how little it can decently give. Love is about this: if it gave it all, if indeed it gave all the world, it still would be too little a gift.
Friends, love does not calculate how much you give to another person. But that’s what the world does. See, the world looks at Christians and realizes that whenever we give too much devotion, too much worship to the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s excessive, right? Why would you do all that for the world? Why would you give your life like that to the Lord? But yet the world has no problem with giving everything they have to wealth and power and sex and success and influence. The world has no problem doing that. If you give too much to God, it’s excessive. Judas, like the world, was not interested in the poor. John 12:6 says, Judas said this not because he cared about the poor. He said this because he was a thief. He’s not worried about the poor. Judas is worried about himself.
We see the attack of the leaders. Secondly, we see the adoration of the woman. Thirdly, we see the arrogance of the disciples. Fourth and finally, we see the appreciation of Jesus. We move into Jesus’ request. Okay, Jesus, what do you think about this act of worship? Notice what it says in verse 6: “But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 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.’”
Write down the motive. Jesus identifies the motive for Mary. Why would Mary do this? R. Kent Hughes, the commentator, tells the story his [mother], who won a recipe box that was extravagant and unique at a raffle. She brought this box home and it motivated her so much to start to clean up her old recipes. Ladies, you have a lot of recipes. I know my wife does. And so she got motivated to take all those old scrap sheets and pieces of paper and put them into neat cards. And so what she did on one Saturday, she spent the whole day re-writing her recipes on these index cards. Anybody ever done that before? Ladies? So she did that and her son, Kent, watched the entire time.
Kent, as a little boy, understood how much that recipe box meant to his mother. So a couple of days later—Kent watch the whole process go down—a couple of days later, his [mother], for her birthday, got surprised by a bunch of her friends and they took her out for lunch. When she got home, she was surprised to see what happened. She walked in the door and she looked on the counter and her recipe box was gone and she asked,Has anybody seen my recipe box? At that moment, here came Kent. Kent came out of the back with something behind his back and it was dripping wet. Now she knew what it was as he said Mommy, I have a birthday present for you. Her heart sank and she smiled and Kent said, Mom, here it is.
Now what Kent did is this: he decided to go to the bathroom and with a pencil, he chipped off with water all the decorations on the recipe box. He then washed it down with soap, he wrapped it with aluminum foil, and he presented it as a gift to his mom. Inside the gift, as she opened the recipe box, which was useless at this point, she found three things: a nickel for her birthday, a black plastic lizard, and a picture of Kent. R. Kent Hughes says to this day, that’s one of the most prized possessions of his [mother]. He said if the house burns down, she’s getting the pictures and that recipe box. Why? It wasn’t worth anything. It wasn’t something that you would brag to your friends about; however, it was something that was given out of pure and innocent love.
And that’s what Mary did. Mary gave something out of pure love to the Lord Jesus Christ. How could she perform such an extravagant act? I believe the Holy Spirit of God empowered her to do it. What’s interesting is Jesus notices the motive of Mary’s heart and He defends her. See, the disciples looked at Mary’s action as an action of selfishness; Jesus looked at it as her motive of selflessness. The disciples judged by her appearance; Jesus judged by the heart. The disciples judged her by her waste; Jesus judged it as an act of worship.
Whenever Jesus says you always have the poor with you, He doesn’t downplay the poor. There are many Old Testament passages that are saying you should give to the poor and care for the poor. This is what Jesus saying: you can always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. Guess what Jesus is saying. He is highlighting His divinity. Did you catch that? It’s subtle, but catch it. Jesus is saying you can give to them but you can’t always give to Me. Now, if a mere mortal would say that, we would think he’s crazy. But by Jesus say you will always have the poor but don’t always have Me, meaning you should give to Me, He is elevating Himself from the second commandment, which is the greatest, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says I am above that.” Which is the first commandment, you shall what? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The value of the gift of the woman is significant and the woman’s extravagant gift displays her understanding that Jesus’ worth incomprehensible. Everybody thought this woman was crazy but Jesus because he knew her motive.
Secondly, He knew her purpose. And the purpose was she was going to anoint His body beforehand for burial. The disciples had been told on three occasions that Jesus Christ will go to the chief priests and elders. They will persecute Him. He will go to the cross. He will die. He will be raised from the dead. They heard this on three different occasions—Mark 8, Mark 9, Mark 10—and they still didn’t see it. It reminds us of the gospel. Jesus is identifying that this woman recognizes His identity. Jesus is saying she knows that in a few days I will go to the cross and I will bear the sins for the entire world. On Jesus’ body that day, physically and spiritually, your sins and my sins were placed upon Christ. He died for the sins of the world. He became the substitutionary sacrifice for us.
That’s why Jesus, after dying, rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven to prove to us that no other man that has ever walked the planet has risen from the dead. That’s why last week when I spoke to the Unitarian Church I told them there’s only one way to heaven—it’s Jesus, we can know that because no one’s ever risen from the dead. And that’s why today, if you have never put your faith and trust Christ repenting of your sins, you have no assurance that you’ll end up in heaven. But more importantly, you have no assurance that you have a relationship with God today. Have you done that? Have you put your faith in Christ? I encourage you even now at your seat to do that.
The woman had a motive, which was to please Jesus. Her purpose was to anoint Him for burial. Finally, notice her example. Verse 9: “…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.” This is the last time the word gospel in the book of Mark, which is about the gospel, is used. It’s the last time. It’s the last time the word gospel is spoken in Mark. And she displays for all that the gospel will be preached with persecution.
Did you catch it? When she gives an example of the gospel, they persecute her and they attack her and it shows us a precursor to what’s about to happen in the book of Acts. When the gospel advances, there will be suffering. Did you notice the connection of the woman coming to Jesus, breaking the bottle, and offering it up as a sacrifice unto the Lord and in just a few moments, Jesus Himself will offer His body up as a sacrifice and be broken for us. There’s so many connections in this text. And the woman understands that. Two thousand years ago this happened and still this act of love is being talked about today because we’re still talking about it.
So Robby, I understand that. I understand what the woman did. I understand what the disciples did. I understand that Jesus even affirmed this woman. But the question is what do you want me to do today? Here are two walking points for us. As we’ve heard from the Lord, now what would God call us to do? Here’s the first one. Write it down. Our worship should be committed. We should be committed in our worship. Jesus said no man can serve two masters. He will either love one or hate the other. Now, He’s talking about money and I think it’s appropriate to this passage. No man can serve two masters. You know what Jesus is saying? You, as a believer or so-called believer, you cannot serve both money and Christ. Okay? Jesus is saying as a believer you can’t serve self and Christ. You can’t serve success and Christ. You can’t serve materialism and Christ. You can’t serve athletics and Christ. Jesus says in the Christian life, you cannot ride the fence. You either serve one and deny the other or serve one and deny the other. You can’t do both. So, friends, are you committed in your worship of the Lord?
Secondly, worship will be costly. Our worship should be committed; our worship can be costly. By the woman offering 300 days wages or $20,000, it shows us that real worship is costly. It reminds me of 2 Samuel 24 when David is looking for a piece of property to build the temple. David looks at the land and Araunah is there and he says, I’m going to give you to offer up to the Lord an oxen and some wood and let’s right now offer up a sacrifice unto the Lord. David, knowing that he doesn’t want to take this for free, this is how he responds back to Araunah in 2 Samuel 24: No but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt sacrifices to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.
Another way to say it is I will not offer up to the Lord that which cost me nothing. Friends, our time, our worship, our talents, and our treasures are costly. But the problem with the Christian life is that many of us have been caught up in the trap where we give God our leftovers. Don’t miss this. You give God your leftover time; you give God your leftover resources; you give God your leftover money; you give God the leftover talent. God’s not first in your life. God’s pushed to the side. The kingdom of God advances when the people of God unite together to see the mission of God and the gospel of God advance through the world. A sad statistic in many churches is that 10% of the people do 90% of the work. Let it not be said at Brainerd Baptist Church. Have you been giving God the leftovers? Have you been critical of other people who have been giving God extravagant worship? I hope it’s not you.
Lee Strobel makes an interesting, provoking statement when he says we can learn a lot from how President George W. Bush did not respond to the terrorist act of September 11, 2001. He didn’t merely increase the military budget by 3% or ask Americans to be more vigilant and send sternly worded e-mails to those who were responsible for the aggression. He didn’t do that. He got on national television and said “We’re going to declare an all out war on terror.”
See, the problem with many of us, including me, is that we’ve never been in America when the country has been in an all out war. World War II, for most of us who are younger, we don’t remember that right? Now, some in here, some remember that. Most of the younger generation, we don’t remember what it’s like to be in an all out war. Now, we had the Gulf War, we had the Vietnam Conflict. We had other wars—the War on Terror. But we haven’t been in that situation.
Let me relive that for those who have been there and those who are new. When you’re in a war, all of your resources are directed to one goal. All of your time is channeled into one area. All of your available resources are channeled into the war effort. All of our attention is concentrated on the mission, which is to attack the enemy. My friends, in the Christian life, we’re in a war and giving God our leftovers is not going to accomplish the Great Commission to take the gospel not only to our neighborhood but to take it to the nation. The question is not are you giving something to the Lord. The real question is this: Are you giving to the Lord everything you have? Are you giving God your all? Because the problem is we’ve gotten caught up in leftovers.
This woman is a great example came to the Lord and gave her true devotion. You know, true devotion costs something. You have to sacrifice to give it. But let me share with you. Jesus is worth it. Jesus is worth you giving your all. Jesus is worth you giving your life to Him. Jesus is worth you giving your body to Him. Jesus is worth giving your mind to Him, your heart to Him, your soul to Him, your future to Him. Jesus Christ is worth you giving your all. Would you commit this morning in saying Robby, Pastor, I want to do that. The question I want to close with is this: What is holding you back from extravagantly worshipping Christ?