Series- 21 Portraits of Jesus in John's Gospel
These are Christ's last days on earth. He knows He has only a few days to live. How would you treat someone in their last days?
"Dr. James Dobson tells the story of a five-year-old boy dying of lung cancer. Many parents of terminally ill children can't handle the pressure and grief and, consequently, let them die alone. But this little boy's mother came to his hospital room every day, holding him, rocking him, loving him.
One night, after the mother had gone home, the nurses heard the child
talking in his room , saying over and over, "I hear the bells! I hear the
bells! They're ringing! They assumed he was
hallucinating and told his mother so the next morning.
'He was not hallucinating,' she replied. 'Weeks ago, I told my boy that
when the pain got so bad that he couldn't breathe, he's soon be going to
heaven to be with Jesus. And when the pain got too bad, he was to look
up toward heaven and listen for the bells/ They'd be ringing. for him.'
With that, she turned into his room, gathered her son in her arms, and rocked him into the
waiting arms of God."
Christ was exalted in this last week of his life. Several events lead
up to the last days. In our text, Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. I want
us to look at three responses to this gift of exalting Christ.
This ointment was very costly. Most commentators indicate the 300 pence or denarii would equal a years wages. At this time, that would be 50 to 60 dollars. I have been told the average per job income of Parkersburg is $15,000. But, lets just say today this ointment c ould be sold for $15,000. That's a lot of money to spend on feet.f (The synoptic gospels do record the head also was anointed.) It is a very costly gift.
Let's evaluate this further for our day. How much did you spend for the shoes you're wearing? I've heard ladies brag that they don't spend much on a pair of shoes. My wife recently purchased some shoes at a shoe factory for a dollar amount equal to the shoe size. However, a real good pair of shoes could cost $150.00. I heard a man from Texas talking about boots. He said the pair on were the most comfortable he had ever had. I related I would like to have a pair of boots, but had a fear they wouldn't fit my particular foot problems. he told of a man in his area that would make a custom pair of boots and guarantee them to be the best fit you ever had. I asked how much those boots might cost. He said they start at $300.00 a pair. I expressed my thought that I would stay with the shoes I was wearing.
This gift was not only a costly gift by Mary, but it was also a very thoughtful gift. To have this kind of ointment many times meant someone had saved it over a period of time for a very special occasion. We don't really know how long Mary had this ointment, nor what her plan had been for its use, but she very thoughtfully gave it to the Lord. She may have had some spiritual insight that most others did not have. But, here in the last week of oour Lord's life she gave a costly and thoughtful gift.
A couple from Illinois visited us last October. The husband is like many men and forgets birthdays, anniversaries and buys Christmas presents at the last minute. One year he began in January to put money in a Christmas Club account. He then in December bought a very expensive gift.. His wife was thrilled. But, when she found out how he thought of her and this gift every week the gift became even more precious.
We need to be like Mary and exalt the Lord with thoughtful and costly
gifts of time, talent and possessions. Our reaction to this part of the
text should be to imitate it. Notice the next response.
His response was, "...why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii and given to poor people?" He sees this gift not as generous, but extravagant. There can be no possible reason for spending this kink of money on something like an anointing. Feet can and should be washed, but there is no need for this expense. And yet, just a few days from now Judas will conspire to betray that anointed head and those feet that Mary anointed and wiped with her hair. They will be nailed to a cross. you see the heart of the problem is a problem in Judas' heart.
John tells us Judas has this reaction because he is a thief. Somehow it later became evident that he had regularly taken from the disciples treasury. He must have had visions of holding that gift of Mary's and drawing out of it for his own needs. he doesn't have a genuine concern for the poor. Worse than that he doesn't have a real concern for the Lord Jesus. In a few days Judas will kiss the door to heaven, but take a suicidal plunge into hell.
He betrayed those feet for 30 pieces of silver. A far less price than that which Mary spent to anoint the feet of the Lord. But. Judas did not take the silver and give it to the poor. A persons opinion about spending money in the Lord's work may be guided by a very selfish and self-glorifying motive. It was true with Judas.
Joseph Meyer played Christ in the passion play regularly held in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The play lost some of its spiritual vibrancy. One night the Lord said to Joseph Meyer, "You're playing the part, but not living the life. Stop playing and live for me."
Judas played the part of a faithful treasurer. he played the part of
a person concerned about the poor. He ridiculed and attempted to tear down
this act of Mary. We need to analyze our responses and make sure they are
not like that of Judas. Now look at the response of Jesus.
Mary seems to understand the opportunity to give for this particular purpose of the day fo Christ's burial. She has a spiritual perception that few have. This is an opportunity of a life-time and Mary didn't pass it up and the Lord was pleased.
Jesus further related, "For the poor you have always with you,..." The primary emphasis of our giving should be spiritual. It must be our main concern to seek to help in spiritual areas. Yes, we provide food and pay for electric and gas bills. Yes, we help ;with medicine expenses. But, we must never be primarily concerned about physical needs. Some secular groups help poor families. No one but an evangelistic church helps in the spiritual needs. It is not an either/or situation. It is both and with an evangelistic emphasis in all that we do.
During a "Together We Build" Program a church assigned all the families of the church to receive a visit. Teams of visitors were formed and started out on this effort. One of the teams received an assignment of a faithful, but very poor family. These men decided not to visit them. The pastor had asked every family to pray and seek to make equal sacrifices. The campaign went on and this family kept expecting a visit, but no one came. They finally aked about it. The team told the pastor of their decision. The family responded, "You say we can't afford to give, but the Lord has told us we can. Please make a visit to our home."
The Lord is not primarily concerned with the amounts we give. But, just
like in the case with Mary, he is concerned about the heart. Tonight, you
have an opportunity to respond. It could be the chance of your lifetime.
Please respond as the Lord leads.