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May 9, 2021 12:01 am
When a woman poured an entire flask of expensive perfume on Jesus, people were disgusted by what seemed like a waste. But Jesus reacted in a different way. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Mark to reflect on this woman's extravagant devotion.
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Why were the people so upset when a woman anointed Jesus. That was the protest that this use of precious perfume to anoint the Lord of glory was entering into his passion was considered a waste but would you react if you saw someone throw away something of great worth, my thoughts were even discussed. That seems to be how some of the people reacted when a woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus, but Jesus reacted in a different way.
Let's learn more in his Dr. RC Sproul continues his sermon series from the Gospel of Mark.
After two days it was the Passover and the feast of on 11 rent is two days after the all of the discourse they use the important moments in the Jewish calendar took place and it is not without irony that the same time that Jesus is entering into his passion, entering into his great suffering that it coincides with the Passover with the feast of the on 11 bread. The most important feasts of Old Testament Judaism was the celebration of the Passover because it commemorated God's deliverance of his people from the hand of the Egyptians and sparing the children of Israel from the angel of death or vengeance that was visited upon the Egyptians. You know the story how God instructed them to take the blood of the Lamb and smear that blood on the door posts so that any house that was marked by the blood of the land would escape the judgment that was being visited upon the Egyptians and God instructed them to celebrate this with an annual feast and the terms of the consumption of food included the drinking of wine to remind them of the bitterness of their experience in bondage and also of the slaying of a lamb that was to be sacrificed in the afternoon and then consumed as food in the evening and they were also commanded to celebrate this event with a feast using on leavened bread. The reason why the bread was unleavened was again because of the historic circumstances of the Passover that God commanded the people to be ready to move not just out of their homes out of the nation to follow his guidance in the Exodus and at a moments notice with haste.
They had to leave and so they didn't have time to allow the yeast to rise in their bread so they used on leavened bread. Now when we sometimes read in the New Testament about the celebration of the Passover we can get a little bit confused because the Passover was observed for an entire week and so sometimes when refers to the Passover. It refers to the whole week when refers to the feast of unleavened bread that took place in a long weekend, but not for the entire seven days and then the specific celebration of the Passover meal took place.
As I mentioned in one afternoon and evening, so sometimes will reference the Passover refers to that one day, other times to the entire week but again I say it is fitting that in terms of the history of redemption, the Lamb of God should enter into his suffering as he is about to be slain by his blood, the judgment of God would Passover his people, so Mark tells us there was Passover there is the feast of the unleavened bread, and the chief priests and the scribes now, not the Pharisees or so on but those who are the members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews sought how they might take him by trickery and put him to death. So they joined together to hatch a plot plan here and they'd sought.
First of all to figure out how they could get a hold of them, how they could take him how they could capture him, not simply for the purpose of incarcerating him but how they could capture him in order that they could kill him. That was their desire that was their plan, and so they met together and figured out a game plan. They said among themselves, not during the feast lest there be an uproar. The people again as much as they wanted to get rid of Jesus. They still feared a popular uprising and were going to limit to some of their plans with an eye out to public opinion. Now all of a sudden the narrative changes it's interrupted to begins with this message of the plot of the Sanhedrin to capture and execute Jesus, and what marked us throughout his gospel as he uses what some would call a sandwich technique were in the middle of a narrative hill sandwich in something else that has direct relevance to the broader, longer narrative, and I think we'll see the beauty of that sandwich year that he incorporates when he recounts for his readers. What happened in Bethany with Mary and so are told in verse three that being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper. Obviously, Simon was a healed leper because lepers were not allowed to engage in the hosting dinner meals among the people and so we can only assume that this Simon was one who had been healed of leprosy and probably and presumably healed by Jesus himself, but any case, he was in that home having a meal and as he sat at the table.
A woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard of the woman is not identified by name here in John's Gospel, for example, the woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and the sister of Lazarus who lived in Bethany when we were told that woman remains unnamed in the text that she came having an alabaster that is a bright white flask where the flask itself would be of some value, but this flask contained a very precious type of perfume, a very costly oil of spikenard and as we will see in a few moments the value of this perfume was over 300 denarii.
Keep in mind that a denarius was typically one days wage in his room. The people worked six days they did not work or be paid on the seventh day, and when you have over 300 an area of value you're talking basically here dear friends of a substance that cost a year's salary a whole year's salary. Imagine somebody today, taking all the money that they make in a single year and buying a vessel filled with costly perfume.
Now the volume of this perfume was at least 12 ounces maybe even 16 so that if you buy precious perfume. You know, ladies on Mother's Day that if you buy top-of-the-line perfume you buy. Maybe an ounce and even then it could be very expensive. Not too many women go out and buy a pound of perfume at a time, or think if you will of a 12 ounce glass of something or a 16 ounce glass of something and you'll get the idea of how much perfume was being carried in this alabaster jar also add at this point is something speculative, that the overwhelming majority of women who lived in that day did not make money like that in the marketplace. In all probability, this alabaster flask of precious perfume was owned by the family, perhaps even a family heirloom, but I'm emphasizing here the enormous cost of this substance and as they are seated in the dining experience with Simon the leper in his house.
Mary comes in and interrupts the meal which was also in terms of Jewish protocol and etiquette and no no, the only time a woman was allowed to interrupt a meal of men was as if she were serving the male, not just coming in visiting or interrupting the conversation, but Mary doesn't hesitate. She comes in and she doesn't just pour the ointment door the perfume out of this alabaster flask, but she breaks the flask and poured it.
We are told on his head. One of the discrepancies that people like to look at is that in John's version. In others it says that when she was finished she wiped Jesus feet with her hair, and here are the focus of where Jesus is anointed is on his head now, which wasn't on his feet on his head. The reclining at dinner and it seems that one gospel writer tells us that she gets anointed on the head. The other one on the feet when you consider the volume of the perfume that this woman breaks and porcelain. Jesus said it doesn't just dab his hair. It covers his body had to tell. It's a minor bath of precious ointment or perfume that is taking place here though we are told that when she did this.
There were some who were in didn't. That is, they were, according to the Greek here not just annoyed or irked. But their irritation had risen to the level of fury when they witnessed this episode and they were indignant among themselves and they said, why was this fragrant oil wasted.
That was the protest that this use of precious perfume to anoint the Lord of glory was entering into his passion was considered a waste so unbelievable is the family had any idea who was being anointed and why they were being anointed and had any sense of value whatsoever. The only question they would race is why was this woman's gifts so small, let alone to be considered a waste. You see, in the eyes of the contemporaries of Jesus. This act of devotion by Mary was an act of extravagance. Generous him again and the irony in this chapter where we see this interlock with the value the Jesus had to Judas. Imagine in the same narrative we hear of the devotion of one who gives extravagant love to Jesus, the cost and a heavy price at the same time, the record of on speakable treachery and betrayal at a price of 30 pieces of silver and reread it might have been sold for more than 300 denarii and given to the poor.
Why do you waste this money on Jesus. Why do you waste this money on adoration when their people who are hungry just thinking we could have done with that 300 denarii oh worth of perfume week of taken care of so money poor people. What's wrong with your sense of value. That's what they're angry about, and the anger even goes further.
This is they criticized her sharply that term sharply here in the English is a vast understatement.
If you've ever seen movies are the real thing of the portrayal of a bullfight and you see were the matador stands in the center of the arena with his cape and his sword in the fonts the bull consists borrow a key come on bring it on all in the bull pause the ground and then you see the close-up of the bowl where his nostrils flare in anger.
That's the image that is used here that these people were so angry at Mary for wasting this ointment that in their criticism.
There nostrils were flaring, you have to be pretty mad at the start flaring nostrils but that's what Mark records for us here know what Jesus the Lord said, but Jesus said, let her a lot. She said that's enough.
Be quiet and calm your noses down. Why do you trouble her. She has done a good work for me for the poor.
You have with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good but me you do not have always. Several years ago I was invited to preach in the inner city of Cleveland in the ghetto in a church where the minister their heads have been serving for 25 years in the church building itself was surrounded with all of the signs of poverty of drugs of crime of broken humanity and since we began to talk about the frustrations that were associated with his ministry and he mentioned to me that he had had several young assistant ministers who would come to work in that church straight out of seminary, and he said the average length of their stay was two years because they gave up in their frustration. I so okay. They lasted two years you been here 25 years. How do you account for that. He says because of what Jesus said was that so Jesus said the poor you always have with you swim at that doesn't compute us of when I hear people quote that verse up or you always have with you. It's to justify ignoring the poor having no concern for the poor having no compassion for the ghetto lesson yet that verse stimulates you the perseverance in this ministry in the ghetto. I don't get it. He said let me tell you the difference between my young assistance in me, my young assistance, out of seminary stars in their eyes filled with idealism. They're going to come in here like knights in shining armor and eradicate poverty and when I see that it doesn't happen in two years there burned out and they leave he said.
I knew when I came here the poor are always good to be here and that my mission was not to eradicate poverty but to minister to people who were in the midst of poverty. So Jesus says to these people's look poor always good to be here and you will have manifold opportunities to minister to the poor, and that's what I want you to do in my name, but right now were in a time of crisis.
My presence is limited to a very short term, and she has done what she could. Jesus could've amplified that and said she doesn't have the power to go over there with these people in the sand have Norman stop this plot to execute me. She doesn't have that kind of power or influence. She can raise an army to defend me. She's powerless. All that she did was all that she could and she didn't come just to celebrate me and to adore me, but she came to anoint my body for burial now. Been reading the paper and all that today on Mother's Day about all the wonderful things that mothers do for their children.
And that's true. What it debts all of us. So to our mothers. The older I get, the more I am moved by my understanding of the sacrifices that my mother made for me at great cost on several occasions to her and things that I really took for granted, particularly as the use and yet, my mother would not of counted those things the sacrifice she wanted to do those things because she was a mother and that's what mothers do is that this woman anointed Jesus for his burial.
We will see God willing. Later on that the importance of that burial to the whole history of redemption to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The fact that Jesus body was not thrown in the garbage dump of Guyana like executed criminals were that's the father would not allow the sons body to see corruption but not a bone of his body would be broken and the fact that Jesus was laid to rest in a rich man's tomb was a magnanimous importance in terms of Old Testament prophecy. He made his grave with the rich because he had done no evil. Isaiah said member on the Easter morning from over the women doing. They were on their way to the tomb to complete the task of anointing, the corpse of Jesus, but Mary comes with her most priceless possession and gives all of it to anoint him before he dies. A lot of this is one of the most sacrificial extravagant heart rendering gifts of all time. And Jesus said she has done a good work for me and he ends this discussion with these words. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will be told as a memorial to her. I'm not to let the world forget what you've just witnessed what you've considered wasteful to make sure that the whole world hears about this woman's act of love and devotion and sacrifice. This was a great who did a great thing that we should applaud and a great woman who did a great thing and she didn't seem to care what others thought of her actions. She simply wanted to honor Jesus you're listening to the Lord's day addition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, thank you for being with us that we hope you're enjoying Dr. RC Sproul sermon series from the Gospel of Mark. As you've heard over the past several Sundays.
RC helps us examine the text carefully and provide practical and powerful application these messages became the basis for Dr. Sproles commentary on the Gospel of Mark.
It offers sound teaching as well as helpful insight on what Jesus meant when he said, follow me.
Would like to send you the e-book version of this commentary for your gift of any amount you can request it. When you visit us online at Renewing Your Mind.word as a reminder, our offices are closed today as we observe the Sabbath and worship with our family, so this offer is available online only once again that web address is Renewing Your Mind.or. We also invite you to check out roughneck that's our 24 hour Internet radio station riff that offers solid reform teaching from Dr. Sproles, along with our limiter ministries teaching fellows and other trusted pastors and teachers, you can listen for free at any firstname.lastname@example.org grateful that you enjoyed this today and we hope you make plans to be with us again next Sunday as we continue Dr. Sproles verse by verse sermon series from the Gospel of Mark, this is Renewing Your Mind. The listener supported outreach of regular ministry