JESUS WAS ANOITED BY A WOMAN

Mark 14:1-11

Key Verse: 14:9

 

“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.”

Happy Mother’s day! I dedicate today’s message to all women who pour out their love to serve Jesus. Human behavior reflects what is stored in their hearts. Just as a good tree bears good fruits and a bad tree bears bad fruits. Fruits do not lie. Today’s passage reveals the true motives of man. In 2 days our Lord Jesus would pour out his life as a ransom for many. Mark contrasts three different groups of people in relation to Jesus. We see the bad plot of the religious leaders, the good work of the woman, and the ugly betrayal by Judas. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly in this passage. Let’s open our hearts to Jesus and do good, and pour out our love to him. May God bless us to give our best to the Lord to preach the gospel throughout the world! 

PART 1 THE PLOT (THE BAD)

Look at verse 1. “Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him.” The Passover was the first day of a celebration called the “Feast of Unleavened Bread,” commemorating the historical events recorded in Exodus. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt. But God saw their misery, and God intervened, delivering them through 10 spectacular plagues. For the tenth plague, God was going to slay all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the slave. God told his people to slay a lamb and spread its blood on the doorposts of their houses. When God saw the blood, he passed over that house. Now Jesus would become the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) God would sacrifice his Son in our place so that he might wash away all our sins as white as snow. While Jesus was preparing for this upcoming sacrifice, there was the plot among the religious leaders. Their plot was to arrest and kill Jesus. The religious leaders supposed be the moral fabric of the nation and become the prayer servants of the nation. But the religious leaders, who were only thinking about a sly way to arrest and kill Jesus, had to postpone their plans. Verse 2 reads, “‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot.’” They did not live in the sight of God but in the sight of the men. As a result, they could not do anything. They became cowards who could not make up their minds. They were evil and they were the bad. Contrast their bad PLOT with the beautiful love of the woman.

PART II THE ANOINTING IN BETHANY BY A WOMAN-THE GOOD

Look at verse 3a. “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper…” It is interesting to note that Mark says “a man known as Simon the Leper,” and not that he actually was a man with leprosy. He was a wealthy man, to have a home large enough to accommodate Jesus and his hungry disciples. Perhaps he had been a leper once, and was healed by Jesus. But he kept the name, “Simon the Leper,” to remember Jesus’ grace.

The disciples and Simon enjoyed the meal. They laughed and joked, as though their fellowship with Jesus would last forever. No one understood what the coming days meant to Jesus. Who could encourage Jesus in this hour? Look at 3. “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” Mark doesn’t mention her name or anything about who she was, or how she came to be there, or even what her motivation was. He emphasizes two things: her alabaster jar of perfume, and what she did with it.

Nard is a special perfume like Chanel #5. I don’t know anything about the perfume. But the Bible says that this perfume was very expensive. Those few who could afford such an expensive, imported item would use it very sparingly, or keep it on a shelf as a symbol of wealth. Likely this alabaster jar of perfume was the most valuable possession the woman owned. It was her number one treasure. She may have been saving it for her wedding. But she ran up to Jesus, broke the jar and poured the entire bottle onto Jesus’ head, before anyone could stop her. This was an extravagant expression of love for Jesus. It was a deeply personal act that cost this woman everything she had. In her mind, there was only Jesus. When she poured the perfume on Jesus, she was pouring her everything on Jesus. Her action was based on her thanks to Jesus.

Giving thanks is a basic part of our relationship with Jesus. She was saying to Jesus, “Jesus, you are worthy of this, my most treasured possession. I am so thankful for you, Jesus! ” This was a timeless moment between a redeemed woman and her Savior. This jar represented her life, and she broke it and poured it out on Jesus. She found eternal love and salvation in Jesus. She tasted wonderful grace of Jesus very personally. Then she surrendered her life to Jesus because she found true treasure in Jesus. She was so thankful she gave him her best.

But there was a different view of this event. Look at verses 4-5. “Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.” Matthew’s account tells us that all the disciples said this. Indignant is more than just disappointed. They were angry, as though something terribly tragic had just happened. Why such a response? Of course, the strong smell of the perfume ruined their eating appetite. But they were very angry at her waste. If she poured a drop of perfume on Jesus, they would not have rebuked her. Instead, this woman poured it all over Jesus. As the disciples watched the perfume stream down his face and soak into his robe, all they could think was, “What a waste.” They were heartless, materialistic, and thankless men without knowing this woman’s beautiful heart. We mere men don’t know how to judge the woman’s action. Let’s go to Jesus and how he saw this woman’s action.

First, she has done a beautiful thing to me (6)

Look at verse 6. “‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’” Jesus defended this woman, and silenced her critics. Jesus deeply understood her beautiful heart and called her extravagant action “something beautiful.” Jesus accepted her act of love towards him. This is what pleases Jesus, and what he deems beautiful. Jesus approves of wasteful expressions of love for him that the world would never understand. Jesus was different from the bothering disciples and he did not rebuke her harshly. Rather, he accepted her action as a beautiful thing. Why? Jesus knew her deep motive. Here the word “beautiful” is “kalo,jin Greek which means “good or useful or beautiful.” Jesus said, “She has done a good work for me.” (NKJ) Jesus implies that anything directed towards him with the motive of love is a ‘good work. Do anything, no matter what, because you love Jesus, and it will be regarded as a good work by Jesus.

 

People criticize us when we are spending time, money, youth, and energy, love to serve Jesus because they think that we are wasting our life. They call them “absolutely useless, incredibly foolish, and a total waste.” But that is not the case. Jesus Christ has many strange things in his treasure-house in heaven that are great to him-the widow’s copper coins, cups of water, this woman’s broken jar, M. Elijah’s worn-out shoes, and John’s violin. Does Jesus have anything from you in his treasure house? What does the perfume symbolize here? It symbolizes the best we have. It is our number one treasure. It is our love. Nothing is as precious as Jesus because he redeemed our life from the pit of sin and death. He poured out his blood for us as a sign of his love for sinners. When we were sinking due to our sin, Jesus lifted us from God’s wrath. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus did it for us first while we were still unworthy sinners. It is our turn to express our love for him. More love for Jesus is a beautiful thing we can do while we live in this world.  Our relationship with Jesus is drive by love.. 1 Cor. 13:3 says, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Love builds our relationship with Jesus. Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Jesus saw her beautiful heart and accepted her service to him as a good work.

 

Second, she did what she could. (8)

 

Look at verse 8. “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” Jesus said, “She poured perfume on my body.” Jesus would not have said that if she had taken a spoonful of perfume out of her jar and dribbled that, in slow and half-hearted drops on His head and feet. Jesus was moved because she poured it all out. The question is not how much have I done, or given, but could I have done or given more? It is our attitude towards Jesus. Spiritual life can be measured by our self-sacrifice. Our life principle towards Jesus must be “Give all you can!” John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He urged Americans to find things they could do for their country.

 

Today is mother day. Mothers are givers. They are willing to give everything for their children. That’s the reason why we respect mothers. They always ask themselves, “Could I have done or given more?” They are willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of their children. We find the spirit of giving in this woman’s life. Maybe she was not a good cook like Tony and so she was not in the kitchen. But she did not give up looking for a way to give to Jesus. Since she received deep grace from Jesus, she was compelled to do something for Jesus. She remembered her alabaster jar. So she grabbed her alabaster jar and without questioning herself, followed her heart, and poured it out on Christ. Her act was so quick that no one was able to stop her. It was the only thing she could do, and she did it. She did what she could. She did it willingly. It did not matter to her when people around her criticized and rebuked and sneered at her. She did it for Jesus. No matter how people criticize and judge you, do it for Jesus. That is the only matter.

 

Engineers tell us that the steam-engine is a very wasteful machine, because so little of the energy is brought into actual operation. There are many able Christians with great potential capacity but they bring so little into actual operation. Why? They calculate. Bravely and humbly we can do for Jesus what we can do without calculation. I grew up as a selfish man because I only knew how to take from others. I was a little Jacob with many fears. My life motto was “Give me, give me.” But the love of Jesus changed my life completely. Once I tasted the grace of Jesus in my life, I became a man of God’s grace. I had no regret, no reservation, and no retreat about my decision to give my life to Jesus. My favorite hymn is hymn number 455. “Take my love-my Lord, I pour. At thy feet its treasure store. Take my-self and I will be Ever, only, all for thee, ever only, all for Thee.” If the same choice is given to me, I will choose Jesus again. I know this is the most blessed life.

 

Third, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her. (9)  Look at verse 8b. “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”  Of course, she did not know she was preparing for the burial of Jesus. She never thought about such a thing. But Jesus gave a new meaning of her act of love. 1 Corinthians 15:37-38, “When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.” We sow the seed into the field. Who can tell what the harvest is going to be? We know nothing about the great futures that may suddenly bear fruit from the small deeds that we do. We do our part and Jesus will do his part. We will be surprised with the outcome that Jesus will bring when we offer our love to him. The result will be beyond our imagination. This woman was shocked when he translated her act into something much higher than she had thought. Sometimes we do not know what we are doing. We do not know the meaning of our service of love to Jesus. But Jesus makes our service to him permanent as well as significant by declaring that ‘wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her. (9) If the perfume was sold and the money was donated to the poor, we would never have heard of this woman’s inspirational act of love. The poor got far more good from this woman’s act love than the year’s wages they might have lost. Her story has inspired so many Christians throughout the church history ever since. Her act of love smells sweet and her fragrance fills our heart even today

There are many great women like this unknown woman behind the great work of God. Through history God has used this kind of wasteful love toward Jesus to advance the gospel. M. Sarah Barry plunged her life to serve the Lord after the Korean War. She went to Korean via ship which took a month to arrive in Korea. She gave her life to Jesus as a living sacrifice for the student evangelism in Korea. She never married. She poured out her youth and love into the people of Korea, and Korea was transformed into a Christian nation from the Buddhist nation through her act of love for Jesus. God also blessed UBF ministry to expand all over the world through her sacrificial life. So many children of all ages love to hang out with Mother Barry. One little lady called Gladys from England went to China and gave her life and became a blessing to Chinese people. Women played significant roles in our ministry. I cannot think about the gospel work in Washington without mentioning the names of Rebekah Lim, Grace Park, and Esther Lee. Many junior women missionaries and shepherdess are offering their love to Jesus these days.  I owe a lot to many women missionaries who are standing by my side with their constant love and prayer support. Women are the majority among the short term missionaries. They have ownership for the ministry giving their lives to Jesus.  Let’s read verse 9 again. “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.” This woman’s act of love is an example and standard to be shared throughout the world. Is Jesus worth spending your life on, pouring it out without reservation? If we think so, Jesus will use our life to preach the gospel throughout the world and our life will be a part of God’s eternal salvation history.

PART III THE BETRAYAL BY JUDAS (THE UGLY)

Look at verses 10-11. “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” We saw the devotional and sacrificial love of one nameless woman. She did a beautiful thing to Jesus. Now we hear the ugly story of Judas Iscariot. He condemned the woman’s action as the worst waste. He could not understand the woman’s beautiful heart. He only thought about the money that was wasted. Judas was one of the disciples, even chosen by Jesus as his Twelve. Yet while the woman gave up her most precious valuable in love for the Lord, Judas betrayed the Lord for the love of money. Their stories are a great contrast. They were both his disciples. Judas betrayed Jesus, and the woman devoted herself to Jesus. Though Judas received much love as the treasurer of Jesus’ inner circle, he did not love Jesus and did not have relationship with Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times. What was the difference between Peter and Judas? Peter repented and loved Jesus more than his life. But Judas never repented and only felt remorse about what he did to his loving Jesus. Later, he hanged himself. His tragedy was that he never tasted the grace of Jesus personally. He never followed Jesus but followed his own human ambition. The beautiful life in Jesus is to know the love of Jesus, and just how worthy he is of our worship and praise. The beautiful things we do are in response to his love for us. May God help us to know how valuable our Lord is, how lavish his love is for us, and we may be those who do many beautiful things for Jesus, like this woman. May God accept our love to Jesus so that we may be a part of God’s world mission history. Today we examined the good, the bad, and the ugly. I pray that we may not become the bad and the ugly but we may become the good like the woman.  Let’s read the key verse 9.