Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

03/29/15 Sermon - What are you "Wasting" for Jesus?

“What are you “wasting” for Jesus?”

Mark 14:1-11

 

Hosanna!

Today is the beginning of our remembering Holy Week. The time when we participate in the ceremonies that coincide with those activities Jesus and his disciples participated in during Passover, when Jesus became the Passover Lamb for the world.

We are continuing our study of the book of Mark, however, I have jumped ahead a bit, to accommodate the holiday. We will return to chapter 10 after Easter.

And in case you haven’t noticed, I have even skipped past the traditional reading of Palm Sunday, which appears in Mark chapter 11, and have chosen today’s reading from chapter 14.

To catch you up I will give you some of the background. Last week when we left Jesus and his disciples they were in Capernaum and the disciples were complaining because they were being out done by people who were not even part of their group.

In case you haven’t noticed, the twelve men who are Jesus’ prime disciples have been following Jesus,  listening to Jesus and learning from Jesus, but their humanity continues to get in the way.

Not only are they unable to comprehend what Jesus keeps telling them about his having to suffer, they are too busy arguing or complaining or failing to comprehend the truth about God’s Kingdom.

This should give us some comfort, because should the truth be told, 2000 years later, we haven’t changed much.

The truth can be presented to us Sunday after Sunday and somehow, when Monday or Tuesday comes along, we are back in the world, and wrapped up in our worldly thinking and worldly ways of doing things.

But, there is hope.

There was hope for the disciples, at least they kept following Jesus and they tried to stick with him, and eventually they get it.


So we have Jesus and his disciples making their way to Jerusalem, in time to celebrate the Passover.

I’d like to remind you of what is meant by the word disciples. Sometimes when we read that word, the first thing that comes to mind is the 12 men Jesus chose to be his inner circle and were asked by Jesus to follow Him. However, the word disciples also describes a lot more people than just those 12.

You see, while Jesus and his 12 men were traveling, there were others who also went with him. Historians have put anywhere from 50 to 70 people in this group of followers.

Many of those people followed because they were somehow attached to the 12 men. That would have been wives, children, family members.

Then there were others who believed and wanted to learn. Many of the “extras” were there to assist the disciples, in food, lodging and general day to day needs. And many of those disciples were women.

As we continue with the story which describes how Jesus entered Jerusalem, in chapter 11, on a donkey, with the crowd cheering him on, shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!” You can bet, the crowd was made up of those people who had followed him throughout his ministry. And their shouts were in anticipation of this King of Kings, taking over the city of Jerusalem for God, and establishing His kingdom, that would rid the Jewish nation of the Roman Empire and any other empire, forever.

The nation of Israel was eager to be free.

I suspect that those people who were laying down the palm branches or their cloaks as a red carpet for the King to enter upon, were not made up of many Jewish religious leaders. This is my own perception, but I imagine if we were able to take a snap shot of the crowd, we would see the religious leaders in the back, watching from a distance,

as the poor and common folk cheered on their future leader. The men, woman and children who were shouting Hosanna, were most likely those who were simple, not educated and probably hoping for not only freedom from the Romans, but freedom from the Jewish religious leaders. And in the background, you would have seen those religious leaders secretly collaborating on how they would be able to come up with a scheme that would enable them to manipulate this crowd to turn on Jesus and help them get rid of this radical nuisance, once and for all.

Mark records many encounters Jesus has with the people and the religious leaders after he enters Jerusalem for the last time. And just before the reading we heard today, Jesus gives a long discourse on what the signs will be for the end of the age. And if you can picture how his message is being perceived, you need to remember, for most of those that are listening, they already have a preconceived notion as to what the Messiah is going to do. So everything that Jesus tries to explain, instead of hearing what He is saying, they are putting what He says into their framework of Jesus establishing His kingdom here on earth and freeing them from the tyranny of the Romans, Pharisees and Sadducees.

However, not everyone thinks that way.

There are some, who comprehend Jesus’ words about His having to suffer, to die and to rise again. At least they comprehend as much as they are able, and our Scripture today reveals at least one person who “gets it”. The disciples certainly are out to lunch when it comes to Jesus’ plan. The religious leaders are led by their pride and power. The crowd is fickle and dangerous, because we know today they are yelling “Hosanna”, and by Friday they will be yelling, “Crucify Him!”

But in today’s Scripture, someone emerges from the shadows, out of the margins of society, and with a love that gives her the courage to do something that was seen by others as a waste of resources, she demonstrates that she comprehends all that Jesus has been saying.

You see, this woman has most likely been following Jesus for a while and has been his disciple from the outskirts of the group. Because she is female, that is the only way she could have spent time with Jesus.

At this time in history, women were to be seen, doing work, and not to actively participate in discipleship. That is how humans behaved, but it is not how God works. Jesus has spent his entire ministry reaching out and touching the outsiders, both with his hands and his words.

Paul put it best when he wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are.”

What is even more beautiful is, this woman, not only comes out of the shadows to demonstrate her understanding, she doesn’t say a word. She doesn’t have to. Everyone in the room knew exactly what had happened as soon as the bottle of perfume was broken. Even if they did not see her perform her act, their noses told them right away. The smell of the perfume would have turned every head in the room. You see, that particular perfume was only smelled when someone you loved was being buried.

Families had to save for years to be able to afford this particular perfume in order to bury their loved one appropriately. So as soon as they smelled the distinct odor they revealed their ignorance by their indignant response.

In their minds, no one was dying.

What a waste!

Everyone knew the cost of that perfume and immediately thought, since no one was dying, the perfume could have easily been sold to someone who had a family member who had died and needed that particular perfume. Then a year’s worth of wages could have been used for the poor.

Not on Jesus, the King of Kings, who was about to lead them into a victory.

Ignorant woman!

So much for the opinion of the men in the room, because Jesus quickly comes to her defense. Their talking has shown their lack of understanding.

This nameless, silent woman, by her actions, shows her complete understanding. Jesus tells them to leave her alone. That the poor will always be with them, but she has done what she could, she has actually prepared his body for burial. And because of her act of love, she will be remembered wherever the gospel is preached, throughout the world, what she has done will be told, in memory of her.

Let’s contrast this with one of the men in the group.

Judas, who has been one of the inner circle, has had enough. He chooses to leave the group and goes straight to the chief priest, the religious rulers in Jerusalem and makes a deal with them, for money, to betray Jesus.  And he certainly wasn’t planning to use that money to feed the poor.

This woman was the first person to reveal to us that she believes Jesus when He spoke of His coming suffering and death. Her belief and understanding was so real, that she steps out of her societal place and takes action on this belief.

Somebody gets it.

Perhaps the least expected to understand, takes a leap of faith.

The men in the house miss it.

As the story continues to the trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection, I’d like you to continue to notice which people miss it and which people get it.

For the men in the house, at this point in time, they state their concerns for the poor, and what they don’t understand is that Jesus is the poor.

He is as poor as it gets.

He is an innocent man waiting to be handed over for a brutal crucifixion, by someone in his own inner circle and then the rest of his inner circle are going to abandon him.  This woman lavished her mercy on Jesus and Jesus acknowledges her action.

And what about the poor?

When have we ever lavished mercy and justice and healing on those in need? When have we given an extravagant amount to the poor?  In Jesus’ name.

Better yet, how will we be remembered?

Will we be followers who are close to Jesus, part of the inner circle of His church, and yet, like the disciples, miss the point throughout the time we travel with Him?

Or will we be like this anonymous woman, emerge from the shadows and be remembered, if not by name, but for “wasting” a year’s wages to anoint Him?

The choice is ours.

 

Let’s pray.