Two weeks ago one of the oldest original members and leaders of Grace Church, Howard Luginbill passed away. His wife, Gyneth, had preceded him by just one year. Howard was 95 years old. When he died it felt like the end of an era in our lives. Howard and Gyneth were instrumental in my and Penny’s life. They will be missed!
· And they will not be replaced. They were a dying breed. Their faith was simple, clear and strong.
· They prayed frequently. They sang songs about Jesus continually. They quoted scripture constantly.
· They were old school and sentimental but they were genuine in their love for God.
· John said Howard could ask a waitress “Do you know Jesus?” and totally get away with it.
There aren’t very many people left like them and the world would not permit it anyway.
· Our culture doesn’t take kindly to intemperate religion. The world doesn’t have a problem with religion in moderation but you get too excessive, too over the top with your faith and you’ll get shot down.
The problem is, that’s the kind of follower that Jesus loves.
Real followers of Jesus hold nothing back from Him.
Mark 14:1 ______
First the context:
1 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”
· On one book end of our story is hate and a murder plot – Jesus was despised
And on the other end…Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. Mark 14:10
· Hate and betrayal
Which puts this story is stark contrast…
3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. 4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. 6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Mark 14:1-9
A reminder of what we’re looking for in the stories of Mark we’ve been examining for the past 11 weeks. We’re looking for definition. A definition of the word “Christian”. What does it mean? Who is one of those? What are the characteristics?
Clearly there is something about this woman that is worth noting. Jesus himself was so enamored with her that he declared her story would be timeless.
I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.
· There is something about this lady that goes hand in hand with the good news of the kingdom.
· What she has done is so provocative that she is a prototype for the rest of you and the rest of the world to emulate. This woman is a real Christian.
What got him so worked up? That’s our goal to discover.
Before we do let me remind you about last week. This will be, in essence, a continuation of the sermon of last week…
You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12:30
· In short, we have a woman who clearly and dearly loved God and demonstrated it by holding nothing back.
Real followers of Jesus hold nothing back from Him.
· a dinner at the home of a former leper named Simon. Likely healed by Jesus
· And he was not the only miracle in the room. There is a parallel story in John that tells us that Lazarus was present. (as were his sisters Martha, who was serving and Mary, our main character)
o There is even some speculation that Simon was Mary and Martha’s’ dad
· Regardless if that is true – the event was loaded with awe and mystery and energy.
But then Mary does something that blows it all up.
· Rejecting all social protocol and etiquette by interrupting the men’s meal she goes a bit nuts.
· She goes and gets likely the family’s most prized possession. A jar of imported oil (Nard) that had come from…and I’m not making this up…the root of plants found high in the Himalayan mountains.
o It couldn’t be replaced down at Walgreens. It was rare and worth in today’s dollars - $50,000
· She breaks it open and pours it all over Jesus head. Which I am assuming was something you did with oil from time to time but I can’t imagine liking.
o Jesus calls it a “good thing” = the word for good is “beautiful” “motivating” “inspiring”
Not everybody agreed…
· Others thought it was outrageous. People were hot!
o Indignant and scolded her = “snort like a horse”
· They thought it was immoderate…too extravagant…completely impractical
· Called it a waste and ridiculously inefficient…as it could have fed so many poor people.
· I’m sure they thought that Jesus would join them in the rebuke since he had always made a big deal about caring for the poor.
So, why? Why was she so immoderate? So unbridled?
Why? We don’t know. But we can guess…
· Gratitude for healing her brother Lazarus.
· Gratitude for saving her.
o Was she the sinful woman in another similar story? Luke7 ?
· Sense of Impending loss? Did she know he was going to die?
a. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time
· Or was it simply Worship?
o Overwhelmed with her sense of Jesus?
o Jesus implies that this may be the case in one of his most controversial statements. 6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.
§ This is a remarkable statement since we know how important caring for the poor was to him.
§ “you will have plenty of time and opportunity to help the poor…but I’m not long for this world and I’m worthy of this kind of care.
§ No one else in all of history could get away with this other than Him.
· He is no mere mortal
· He is not Jesus the great – he is Jesus the only.
· And his impending death is no mere persecution it was a sacrifice.
§ So , no Judas…this is not a “waste”. Don’t patronize and demean me.
o this woman acted out of her deeply held theology…what she believed about Jesus.
What do you believe about him?
· if Jesus is simply a legend like Captain America or the Hulk then worshipping him is psychotic. Worshipping a myth is a form of mental illness.
o Was she psychotic? Are you?
· If Jesus is simply a man, a human being then worshipping him is creepy or odd or just plain wrong
o IL – on the news a girl who worshipped Taylor Swift…
· If Jesus is a step up from just a man…maybe a powerful prophet…maybe even sent by God then worshipping him may feel right and maybe he’s worth the appreciation like MLK or Nelson Mandela…but let’s not go overboard.
· But if Jesus is indeed the Christ. Real. Living. Dying. Son of God. God in the flesh. Reigning Master of all things. Then there is nothing that can or should be held back.
Clearly…this is what she believed about Him so that…8 She has done what she could. She held nothing back.
She didn’t hold back...resources, emotions, dignity, public perceptions, safety, and mostly her heart…she did not hold her heart back.
And Jesus declares her story as one for the ages.
And if we live this way…expect that our culture will not like it. They like you when you are measured and moderate in your worship, your giving, and your service.
· Don’t be so sentimental.
· Don’t be so awkward
· Don’t go overboard with this religion thing.
· Be sensible. Be cool.
· Be Christian if you’d like but
o Don’t make Jesus out to be better than other Gods
o Don’t make me feel guilty about where I am spiritually
That’s the way too many of us live. Maybe it’s time for a new generation of Jesus freaks to be born. Maybe it’s time for a people to emerge who are reckless and in love with Jesus.
Maybe the world needs to see crazy. Because Real followers of Jesus hold back nothing from Him.