- Sermon Notes
We've spent several weeks looking at the prophecies of Jesus as He spoke about the events of the last days, the signs of the times that we should watch for to discern that the time is near, to understand that a great world leader will arise on the scene, the Antichrist, who will make a covenant with Israel for peace, but this will be the beginning of the end.
A great Tribulation will also come upon the earth as God's wrath is poured out on the world. This will be a tribulation like the world has never seen nor ever shall again. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved, but for the sake of the elect, for Israel, those days shall be cut short.
Jesus also then said that He would return and that all the tribes of the earth will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
Jesus then gave instruction and insight about the importance of being ready and gave several parables and teachings about being faithful while we wait for the return of the Son of Man to return and rule and reign over all the earth.
Now, as we come to chapter 26, Jesus turns his attention to another prophecy that He has been saying to His disciples many times. "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be delivered up for crucifixion."
But while we’re considering those ominous and powerful words, we’re then brought into home of a man we've not heard of before. But there a scene unfolds of great spiritual significance in the lives of the disciples and of course to us as well.
I. Love God Extravagantly
- In verse six, we’re brought into the home of Simon the leper. You can be sure that he wasn't a leper at the time, but he was a leper before, now was healed, and had invited Jesus and the disciples for a meal.
- A woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of Spike-nard, an extremely expensive perfume.
- The jar itself was expensive, being made of alabaster, but the perfume was valued at more than 300 denarii, probably between $25-30,000 in today's valuation.
- In case you're wondering, yes, there is perfume that expensive today. Hermes Perfume 24 Faubourg is $1,500 an ounce. But the Clive Christian’s Imperial Majesty Perfume is $215,000 per bottle. The price might have something to do with the fact that it comes in a diamond crusted bottle.
- We are not told the name of this woman, though many suppose her to be Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha, who had learned the importance of sitting at Jesus’s feet.
- She poured the perfume upon the head of Jesus as He reclined at the table, but the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? The perfume might have been sold and the money given to the poor."
- But Jesus corrected them and finished by saying, "Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken of in memory of her."
A. She heard His heart and His Words
- Jesus had once again told them that the Son of Man must be delivered up for crucifixion.
- The disciples did not want to hear this, and it seems evident that they didn't fully grasp what He was saying.
- But Mary had learned the importance of sitting at His feet and listening to His words. But more than that, I'm convinced that she heard His heart. “If You are to be crucified, then I will anoint you now for Your burial." It was an act of extravagant love.
- Why did she love extravagantly? Because she understood how much Jesus loved her.
Illus - Jesus had raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.
John 11:20-45 Mary is again at His feet, and Lazarus is raised from the dead.
- Jesus is teaching all of them about the power of God over death and that He is the resurrection and the life. And all of that is about the greatness of His love for us.
- In other words, we need to understand the extravagance of God's love toward us so that we can fully love Him in return.
Illus - Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus that he would pray for them that they might somehow grasp the greatness of God's love; the breadth and length and height and depth…
Ephesians 3:19, … and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
- There was another time when Jesus was anointed, but with tears, and there we learn why we should love so extravagantly.
Illus – Jesus spoke of two debtors: one owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. They were both graciously forgiven, so which of them will love more?
Luke 7:44-50 He who is forgiven much, loves much.
- May we never forget the extravagance of God's love toward us; and love Him in return.
B. Love first; serve second
- The disciples were indignant saying that the perfume could have been sold and given to the poor.
- But Jesus corrected them, "Why do you bother this woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. The poor you will have with you always.”
- Jesus didn't say that there was anything wrong with helping the poor; in fact the scriptures encourage us to have a heart of compassion and desire to serve others.
- But she understood the importance of loving God first, and loving extravagantly, and then, out of the abundance of the heart, comes a heart to serve.
- Mary and Martha both learned this lesson.
Luke 10:38-42 Mary has chosen the good part of sitting at Jesus's feet
- When you think about the life that is effective and accomplishes much, it would be tempting to think that the prize would go to the one who works the hardest; the one who sweats the most. But is that what we see in scripture?
Illus - When Israel walked through the desert those 40 years after they left Egypt, they had to face a terrible enemy, the Amalekites. Joshua commanded the armies of Israel, but Moses stood with his hands lifted up to God. It was only in lifting up praise that they were victorious.
- There are other scriptures that help us understand this point very powerfully.
James 5:16, The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Isaiah 40:29,31 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increase his power… Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become faint.
II. Be a Sweet Aroma to God
- When Mary had poured the alabaster vial of perfume upon Jesus's head, the room would have been filled with the aroma.
- What a picture of how this woman's heart must have been a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord.
A. Don’t Waste Your Life
- The disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste?"
- There was another occasion, very similar to this, that had happened the week before and from there we understand that it was Judas Iscariot who raised the objection.
- From that account in John 12, we understand what was motivating Judas.
John 12:6, 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 a pilfer what was put into it.
- "Why this waste?" Judas had asked. But it wasn't waste, it was extravagant love. I'll tell you what was a waste; it was Judas himself.
- With his own eyes he had seen so much of what Jesus had done. He was there when Jesus calmed the sea, when He healed 10 lepers at one time, when He cast out a legion of demons by a word of His power, and he was there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
- His life was a waste because in spite of all that God had poured out before him, his singular priority was himself.
Illus- If a person spent his life pursuing wealth and status, and even achieved it, and then spent the remaining part of his life in spending and enjoying all the wealth and status he had accumulated, would we not also say, "What a waste?"
- In verses 14-16, Judas’s life takes a turn that will end tragically. He betrays Jesus to the Jewish leaders for 30 pieces of silver.
- Yet, the next day, Jesus would wash the feet of the same Judas, who would betray him with a kiss.
- Later, he threw those same 30 pieces of silver at those Jewish leaders and went out and hanged himself.
Illus - In the 60s during the drug culture, when a person would get high, they would say he was "wasted." The whole generation was rebelling from the materialism, corporate cronyism, and government corruption of that day. But to "get wasted" was no answer either.
Yet there were others, hippies of that generation, who began to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear God's Word and also listen to His heart and began to fall in love with Him. They began to teach others and tens of thousands have changed their lives because of those from that generation who did not waste their lives.
B. Have no regrets
- Several days later, this same Mary would come to see Jesus’s prophecy of His crucifixion and resurrection be fulfilled before her eyes.
- It would be then that she would have no regrets for having loved Him so extravagantly.
- Jesus said that, "Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her."
- What are memorials for? They are for us to remember a life well spent, that we might see Mary's extravagant love, and understand that we need the same love in us as well.
Illus - In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his "desire to be a missionary." One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was "throwing himself away as a missionary."
In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserves." In other words, "I'm holding nothing back."
Borden went to Yale and his classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn't that he had lots of money. They saw that he had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. He was a man of spiritual strength with a settled purpose in his life.
Upon graduation, Borden received several high-paying job offers, which he turned down. In his Bible, he wrote two more words, "No retreats." In other words, no turning back.
Borden's missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once he fixed his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered. Others said of him, "there was real strength in him, and I always felt he was the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times."
Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within months, 25-year-old William Borden would be dead. A wave of sorrow went round the world. Was Borden's life a waste? Not in God's perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. This time he wrote his last words, "No regrets."
Matthew 26:1-16 NASB
1 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion." 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5 But they were saying, "Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people."