March 4, 2015: Third Wednesday in Lent

Text: Mark 14: 1-9

Dearly Beloved in Christ:

Ah, look here! Your inbox has received a new entry: “Evite: Pre-Passover Party at my house. Tenth of Nisan. Supper served at the 12th hour. You won’t want to miss it.” Cordially, Simon the Leper.” How fun! Pre-Passover get-togethers are always fun to attend. Good food and good times are guaranteed. Plus, with all the out-of-town relatives pouring in, you don’t know who you’ll see. I wonder who else was on the evite list? Maybe Hannah, Simon’s cousin. You scroll down the invite list, yes, she’s coming. Sister Martha and brother Lazarus will also be there. That means Martha will whip up some great dessert. Ah, Peter is coming as well. So are James and John. You scroll some more. Jesus is coming. You eagerly click “Yes” to the invite. Simon was right, you would not want to miss it!


Party day arrives. You wear your best clothes. You have Martha do up your hair. You splash on some perfume before heading out the door. As you grab that bottle of Bethany Bliss #5 off your dresser, your eye catches the beautiful alabaster jar. The white marble-like flask looks so pristine. The container alone is worth a small fortune. And its contents are worth around $50,000! You know that when you use it, it has to be a special occasion. Can it get more special than this?

You arrive. You’re excited to see Simon the Leper. You never tire of hearing how Jesus healed him. Then you spy Peter and the Boanerges’ brothers. None of them are worth breaking the precious jar over. Only One guest deserves that honor. The One who defended you when your sister lit into you, the One who said: “Mary’s chosen the one thing needful.” He was the same One who cried when He heard Lazarus was dead. He wept at his tomb. The same One who then restored Lazarus to life by raising him from the dead. Have you ever thanked Him enough? Without hesitation you grab the flask and head into the house.


Laughter engulfs you. You can see Judas and James in the window. The feast is sprawled on the table before you. You hardly notice the warm bread. You almost don’t hear the “Hello Mary, can I get you something to drink?” You focus on the One. Maybe when you left home you were only going to splash a few drops of perfume on His head. But now, you realize, life is short. So you break the neck of the bottle and pour every drop upon Him as He reclines at that table. In an instant, the heady aroma permeates the room. It’s the sweetest smell you’ve ever imagined. In Jesus’ own words, it was a beautiful thing that Mary did. But not all viewed it that way.

How would you view this scenario? Well, think about your parent’s will. How would you feel if they left half of it to Pinewood or the synod? Or how about all those older men that decided to leave lucrative jobs behind and go into the ministry? Suddenly their income was cut in half or even a quarter? Their future earnings potential was severely contracted—like my father-in-law or many fellows I went to college or seminary with. Some people would say and do say: “What a waste!” Some people are like Judas that night at Simon’s house who think they know best when it comes to God and money. And so they criticize any attempt by another of being extravagant when it comes to the Lord. However, whether such gifts are big or small, they are a “beautiful thing” to the Lord. As Jesus said of Mary, “She did what she could…I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Right here tonight, those words are being fulfilled once more.


In the end it comes down to this: “What is Jesus worth to you?” Is He worth our time? Our money? Our sacrifice? The world agrees with Judas and shouts: “NO!” Our selfish side shouts: “NO!” And often our past actions have agreed, haven’t they? But then, we come to church just like tonight. God’s Word compels us to repent and clear our lives so that Christ alone can take center stage. As we hear our lessons each week we’re reminded that it was not Mary who went too far with her offering, but God himself Who went overboard and broke, not an alabaster jar of perfume, but broke His own Son. And when He did so on the cross, the sweet perfume of eternal forgiveness wafted over each of us. “Father forgive them” filled the world. Yes, no matter the cost to Himself, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”

Love gives. Love does not calculate the cost. When the Spirit enters us something amazing happens. Like Mary, we love, without calculating the cost. We love because He first loved us. And most of the time we don’t even realize how much we’ve loved because by faith it becomes second nature, doesn’t it? Yes, in this our love mirrors the unselfish love that drove Christ to the cross. So, yes, I tell you the truth…Christ’s love conquers all! Amen