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Broken and Spilled Out

Text: Mark 14: 1-9

Proposition: The extravagant death of Christ on the cross calls for an extravagant love from us that seeks to honor Him above all.

Introduction:  It’s been said that gifts are one of the ways in which the understanding others have of us are shown to us. The gift doesn’t just reveal the image the giver has of you; it exposes the character and the thinking of the giver as well. The account we are going to look at this morning is about a gift that was given in an extraordinary way.

It says in verse one of Mark 14 that the Feast of Passover and then the Feast of Unleavened Bread were just about to take place. Though these were two separate feasts they ran concurrently and were often considered to be one week long celebration yet they were held to remember two separate events. Passover was the feast that remembered the time when the first born in Egypt in one night would die. The only protection against this was to apply the blood of a lamb over the entry way to your house. When the LORD God Jehovah saw the blood He would Passover the home and all in it. But everywhere else if there was no blood applied, smeared on the lintel and doorposts in obedience and faith as Moses had warned them to do, then the death of the first born in that family would take place. From the first born of the one in prison to first born of Pharaoh and even to the firstborn of all the livestock of the land. The Feast of Passover is a feast that remembers death, a great and tragic death. It celebrates the passing over by God because of a blood sign on their homes. The Feast of Unleavened Bread remembers the release from slavery as the result of  this death. They had to leave in such haste that the only bread they could make had to be made quickly, there was no time to use yeast to make it rise. First was a celebration of death, a death that was absolutely essential to break the grip of slavery. Then came the celebration of being set free. The Feast of Unleavened bread went on for seven days, a symbol of perfect freedom. This great Feast celebrated the death that would bring deliverance and one woman before all the others saw its higher fulfillment. Turn with me to Mark 14: 1 - 9.

I. The Gift of Spikenard Declares Mary’s Understanding of Who Jesus Is.

Jesus was sitting or perhaps laying on a mat on the floor by the low table that the meal was on. Perhaps the meal was almost over and it was a ‘now or never’ kind of moment. It says in verse 3, “…a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.” In John’s version of this he says that there was about a pound of essential oil in this alabaster flask. A small vial or box of aromatic spikenard was often given by Jewish parents to their daughters as part of their dowry. On the wedding night, a bride poured out the oil on her husband's feet as a symbol of her commitment to him. Mary's gift was beyond extravagant, it was the equivalent of pound in weight, the rough value of a family heirloom.  Judas declared that its value would have been about 365 days of wages. At our minimum wage that would be about $43,800. But greater far than the sum of its value was the fulness of Mary’s intent. She saw a death, the death of very close friend Who willingly was laying His life down. The extravagance of the spikenard was but a tiny picture of the extravagance of what Jesus was about to do. Mary broke the alabaster flask and poured its precious content on the head of Jesus and on His feet. Mark says she poured the oil out completely, nothing was kept back. John in his gospel  (Jn 12) adds that she then knelt down and wiped His feet with her hair and the fragrance of the oil and this act of love filled the entire house. She kept nothing back, not in terms of what to her was valuable and not in the expression of her love nor her dignity. Her life was broken and spilled out and wiped the feet of Jesus.                         

You see Mary had listened to Jesus, she had heard Him say time and again that He was about to lay His life down and that in three days He would rise again. (Mk 8)  She believed that Jesus was Who He said He was and that He would do what He said He would do. So she marked Jesus as the One above all others in her life. She anointed Jesus as King, that’s what He had proclaimed just four days earlier on Palm Sunday when He entered Jerusalem as King. She anointed Jesus as the One soon to die, whose blood would cause the Passover of God for our sin. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. She anointed Him as the One who has power over death, she had witnessed that first hand at Lazarus’ tomb. She anointed Jesus with all she had because of all He was about to do. She did this without a word, she did it without trying to gain the approval of others.                                  

It was an act of worship between her and Jesus and it was seen by others in that room as wasteful, excessive, foolish and needless. Some might even have said it was ostentatious, meant to draw attention to herself yet, clearly, she knew the kind of attention it would evoke. Mary offered a worship to Jesus that was broken and spilled out because she could see a Savior Who soon would be broken and spilled out for her. Let your worship of Christ be like that, fragrant, extravagant, let your heart be broken and spilled out as you worship Him.  Look now for a minute at how Jesus received this worship, this act of preparation.

II. Jesus Sees Mary’s Intent and Honors Her For It Because It Glorifies Him.

Mary rises from the floor and as the disciples chastise her Jesus stops them and says two things that are good for us here today.

  1. She has done a good work for Me. In the Greek there are number of different words used that we would translate as ‘good’. The particular word that is used for ‘good’ here is the Greek word, ‘kalos’. It means that more than doing the right thing or the morally good thing. It is good because it is ‘beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life’. She has done a good work. Let your work be like that, let it be beautiful because of the heart that you do it with. That good work Jesus sees and He honors both it and you. But more, much more, it glorifies Him as the One absolutely worthy of all the best your heart could ever offer.
  2. She has done what she could. So we might ask, what was it that she could do? We see what she did but how did she get there? She listened, she heard and in hearing believed. She planned knowing what was soon to take place. She moved forwards and in humility did something that expressed her love for Christ. It could have been words but instead it was actions that were completely within in her choice and control. When Charles Spurgeon spoke on this passage in the 1800’s he said that often we would like to be told what is it we should do that would glorify Christ in such a way. Spurgeon writes, “‘Oh,’ cries a brother, ‘tell me what I could do for Jesus!’ Nay, but, brother, I must not tell you. The better part of the whole matter will lie in the hallowed ingenuity of your spirit in inventing something for him out of your own fervent soul.” (Spurgeon) She has done what she could, Jesus saw that intent and He honored her even as it glorified Him.

You see Jesus is the One who has done a good work for us, a beautiful work of stepping between us and the wrath of God against sin. Jesus planned that, saw it approaching and moved towards it and extravagantly was broken and spilled out for you and for me. Jesus did what He could, He could enter into humanity being fully human and fully God for the singular purpose that we would know the love of God Who is willing to walk with us, eat with us and then die for us. He did what He alone could do, He rose again from the dead and offered eternal life to all who would be willing to be broken and spilled out in humility and faith, calling out to Him to save us. That is the glory of God, that He would be seen for Who He is and that by faith in Christ you would know Him even as He right now He knows you.

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