(Preached at Fleetwood, in May1961)
Lesson: John 12: 1-8.
John’s Gospel tells us where this was, and that the anointing was done by Mary of Bethany.
The first critic was Judas, to whom it seemed folly and ‘waste.’
The disciples chimed in with objections, not because they were superior in wisdom to Mary, but because they were inferior in consecration.
Martha too was there – “amongst them that served.” The two sisters give us difficulty in appreciating and doing justice to either.
Christ understands and does justice to BOTH.
Martha is busy to her fingertips. We are short of such women today. A bustling practical woman. She loves Jesus with all her heart, and shows it in her own busy way – by getting the meal ready for Him.
But Mary could no serve – her fingers were all thumbs; yet she must show the Lord how much she loved Him…
She had one precious thing – her own!
And in a burst of emotion, she smashed the thing… the alabaster box, and poured all the liquid perfume over His head and His feet.
It was a prodigal act. An utterly useless thing. A sheer waste – but it told her love for the Lord.
O that we could see today, more extravagant acts to show our love for Jesus.
1. Christ Shielded Her By Pointing To Her Motive
a. “She hath wrought a good work ON ME.”
Anything that is “on Him” is a good work. Anything which has not that saving grace is not a good work. So many “good works” fail to qualify.
b. What an amazing position for a man to take up – “If it’s done for Me – then it’s alright.”
c. He took the best – and still does – of what we give Him. He never said “You are going too far.” ” You exaggerate Me.”
He taught: “All men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father.”
d. There is too much nicely calculated service today. So many are careful not to be fanatical.
I would like to see more things done for Him that the world would count “sheer waste” – absolutely useless things.
Jesus Christ has in His treasure-house a great many ‘foolish things.’
For instance: Two mites. Cups of cold water. Mary’s broken box. Has He anything of yours?
2. He Showed The Measure Of Her Service
a. Jesus said: “She hath done what she could.”
That was not an excuse for her. He was saying in effect – “What she could do – she has done, and nothing less.”
He could not have said that had Mary but taken a spoonful of perfume from the box.
It all went. And that is the measure of her love. She was utterly abandoned in her love for the Nazarene.
Of course, it was not a wise thing to do, if by that you mean economical.
c. It was not Martha’s way – but then it was Mary’s way. So Jesus is saying – “She has done what SHE could.”
Do not envy others – but do what YOU can.”
3. He Gives Meaning To Her Loving Deed
a. “She hath come beforehand to anoint My body to the burying.”
I do not suppose MARY knew or thought of His coming death and burial, as she snatched up the precious vase and broke it upon Him in fragrant worship.
b. But He put the meaning to it. Saying in effect – “She has brought the tribute before the funeral.” THAT’S THE TIME FOR FLOWERS!
Is it not wonderful when He puts meaning into our works BUT HE ALWAYS DOES.
c. We do not know the value of our own work.
For example, the disciples asked Him: “When did we see Thee hungry ” etc.
His response: Inasmuch as you did it unto these little ones, you did it unto Me.”
d. So poor Mary, trembling before her critics with the broken casket in her hands, smiles in wonder as the Lord translated her act into a higher meaning than she or Judas understood.
Other women had to wait for “the first day of the week” – and though they came with their spices early to embalm the body they found the tomb empty – they brought their spikenard too late!
e. Finally – Christ makes perpetual the deed that took but a fleeting moment.
In one breath-taking emotion-packed moment of loving ecstasy she had shown her deep devotion.
f. It was passed in a moment – but He made it an eternal deed. “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.”
g. O the fragrance of that one wild, useless expression of love unspeakable – that fragrance, I say, not only filled the house – IT HAS FILLED THE WORLD.
“To what purpose is this waste?” – To show the love of a forgiven sinner for her Saviour.