This sermon is based on Mark 14:1-9, in the series “Change the World.” This woman did what she could – her gift of costly nard in an alabaster flask was broken and poured out to prepare Jesus for his burial. But the disciples condemned her – scolded her for the extravagant gift. Is that how we view those who are extravagantly sold out to Christ? Through this text, we learn from her sacrifice and Jesus’ commendation to see how we are to live in extravagant devotion to God.
- “A woman came” v. 3 (devoted)
- “They scolded her” vs. 4-5 (scolded)
- “She has done what she could” v. 8 (commended)
1. The woman came (She was devoted) vs. 3
She had an alabaster flask that contained pure nard and was very costly. It was an ointment used in preparation of the dead. The main point is the cost. The very costly nature is what brought about the disapproval in the room. This was a perfume that cost about an entire year’s salary.
*Axe body spray*
The monetary value (how much money it cost) was the least of the cost, though. This was likely a family heirloom passed down. It could have also been a dowry for her marriage or used on the occasion of her own death.
So, in many different ways, here’s what she’s doing…She poured away her future on the Savior. She was sacrificing her future and her present (social acceptability).
She broke the flask – a gesture of complete abandonment. This wasn’t an impulsive gesture. She decided on her own to do this. She wouldn’t have just gone to a place like this carrying this material. When she was alone, she made the decision to herself, “I am going to go there. I am going to do this.”
I wonder if Jesus said to himself the words of Psalm 23? “You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
The action of the woman was…Unique in its thoughtfulness…Costly in its bestowal…Timely in its provision.
2. They scolded her (She was scolded) vs. 4-5
It must be terrific to have read this story for the first time…what happened after her action? I wonder what they did…Did they bowed humbly? Did they jump up and down and started dancing around the room? – no. Anger? – “Why was the ointment wasted like that?” She should have been commended…she was doing what we all ought to be doing – but instead she was rebuked?
“The spirit of these narrow-minded fault-finders is unhappily only too common. Their followers and successors are to be found in every part of Christ’s visible church. There is never wanting a generation of people who decry what they call ‘extremes in religion,’ and are incessantly recommending what they term, ‘moderation’ in the service of Christ. If a man devotes his time, money, and affection to the pursuit of worldly things, they do not blame him. If he gives himself up to the service of money, pleasure or politics, they find no fault. But if the same man devotes himself and all he has to Christ, they can scarce to find words to express their sense of his folly. Saying, ‘He is beside himself. He is out of his mind. He’s an enthusiast. He’s a fanatic.” –J.C. Ryle
Don’t worry what people will think. Live in total abandonment for Jesus. Abandonment seems unsafe. The world says it isn’t smart. This is the safest and smartest abandonment there is, because it’s abandoning all things that won’t satisfy, that won’t save, that can never heal, fill, comfort…it’s abandoning for the only future you can be sure of and trust – it’s the only abandonment and sacrifice where you are letting go of something lesser to grab hold of something greater.
Total abandonment…all because Jesus is worthy.
And these are Jesus’ words to her action…to her abandonment of her past, present, and future…“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” – Oh, to hear those words from the mouth of Jesus
3. She did what she could (She was commended.) vs. 6-8
This is all God asks of us – to do what we can.
This is how God works, using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. He doesn’t ask us to do extraordinary things. He asks us to be obedient in the now. To do what we can. And He does the rest. It’s like when Jesus fed 5,000 people with 2 fish and five loaves of bread. It was the disciples who did the feeding. They just passed out the food. They did what they could. They were obedient in the moment. It was Jesus who did the miraculous.
It’s the same with you. You bringing that one friend to church could change the trajectory of the whole world…or at least their world. That one decision to quit that habit or remove yourself from that situation could change the trajectory of the rest of your life. That one decision to befriend that person who always sits alone can change their world and your world in the process.
God uses our small acts of obedience to do large, extraordinary things.
She sacrificed her past, present, and future for the worth of Jesus. Jesus is worth more…Whatever you can name…Jesus is worth more.
How did this lady change the world? It doesn’t seem like she did. She honored Jesus and made people mad. How did she change the world?
See Jesus’ concluding statements about what she did in verse 9.
You are still reading about her today. You are still seeing her faith displayed today. You are still witnessing her sacrifice for the worth of Christ today. God is using her example to show you the worth of Christ surpasses all the things you are pursuing.