Morning Bible Study
We are now in the final week of Jesus’ life.
It was just a week or so ago when Jesus came to Bethany and raised His
friend Lazarus from the dead. Play “Lazarus raised” clip.
11:1-3 Mary anoints
:1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus
was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.
:2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of
those who sat at the table with Him.
– deipnon – supper, especially a
formal meal usually held at the evening
You will find
that both Matthew (26) and Mark (14) tell us this same story, with a few added
details. There is a different story in Luke (7), but it’s not of the same
Mark (14:3) tells
us that the supper took place at the house of a man named “Simon the leper”,
not the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
:2 Martha served
– diakoneo – to be a servant,
attendant, to serve, wait upon
It’s the word that’s used of the first “deacons” who “served” food to the
widows in Acts 6.
“Serving” is something
that Martha was known for. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, He had spent time in
(Lk 10:38–42 NKJV) —38
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain
woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called
Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was
distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You
not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help
me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried
and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen
that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Sometimes we look at this passage and think that we are either a Martha who
serves or a Mary who sits. And of course we all want to be like Mary who chose
the “good” part, sitting.
I don’t think
we need to choose between serving and sitting. We need to find a balance.
We don’t want to be so caught up in “serving” that we
never take time to listen to the Lord.
We don’t want to be so caught up in “sitting” that we
never learn to serve.
Even though Jesus is the guest of honor, I get the feeling that everyone is paying
special attention to Lazarus. He is the one who used to be dead and is now
:3 Then Mary
took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and
wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of
– litra – A Roman measurement of
weight; 12 ounces (340 gm)
puts the amount of oil as a pint, think of a pint of ice cream.
Mark (14:3) tells
us that the perfume was in an expensive flask made out of alabaster, a very
The ancients considered alabaster to be the best material in which to
preserve their ointments. Breaking the box, probably means breaking the seal of
– nardos – nard, the head or spike of
a fragrant plant found in the mountains of China, India, and Nepal.
The underground stems was crushed and distilled into aromatic oil, used in
perfume and medicines. (Anyone
want to smell spikenard?)
:3 very costly
– polutimos (“great” + “price”) – very
valuable, of great price
We’re going to get a price put on the oil (John 12:5), valued at “three
A denarius was the day’s wage for an average worker. This means that the value
of the perfume was about a year’s worth of wages, perhaps a lifetime’s worth of
– aleipho – to anoint
There are two different Greek words that can be translated “anoint”. John doesn’t use the
“religious” word for “anoint” (chrio)
where we get the word for “Christ”, as the high priest or a king was
“anointed”. The word John uses is an everyday common word, she’s simply putting
the perfume on Him.
She isn’t the
one making Jesus the “anointed” Christ, He already is that. She’s simply
pouring expensive perfume on her Friend.
Mark tells us
that Mary poured it on Jesus’ head as well as His feet (Mark 14:3)
– ekmasso – to wipe off, to wipe away
She’s not smearing it around on Him, she’s simply wiping off His feet.
:3 was filled
– pleroo – to make full, to fill up
John’s description gives us a clue that he must have been present when it
I would imagine that Mary’s gift to Jesus was at least in part because of
her gratitude for Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus will say that Mary’s gift was also to prepare His body for death.
Her gift of love to Jesus was given before
it was too late. Instead of giving roses to Jesus at His funeral, she gave them
to Him while He was still alive.
(Wiersbe) “Her act of love and worship was public, spontaneous,
sacrificial, lavish, personal, and unembarrassed.” 
Jesus called it
a “good” work (Mat. 26:10)
(Mt 26:10 NKJV) …For she has done a good work for Me.
Qualities of Extravagant worship:
1. It is costly
Her gift to Jesus was very expensive.
bought the land to build the Temple, he insisted on paying for it. He said,
(2 Sa 24:24 NKJV) …“No, but I will
surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me
When you worship, there will be a cost.
It might cost you your pride. It
might cost you a relationship. It might
cost you your bitterness:
(Mt 5:23–24 NKJV) —23 Therefore if you
bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has
something against you,24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your
way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
2. It is for Jesus
We don’t worship so other people will notice.
Before William Watson Purkey (b.1929) was a professor, he was a bomb
disposal expert for the Air Force. He wrote,
“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been
hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”
Dance like nobody’s watching. Well, as if there’s only ONE who is watching…
David brought the Ark of the Covenant into his capital city, he got pretty
excited. He made a big parade.
(2 Sa 6:14 NKJV) Then David danced before
the Lord with all his might; and
David was wearing a linen ephod.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to encourage you to
make a big scene at church and act “over the top”.
But make sure that as you worship, you are doing it for
Jesus, not those around you.
3. It blesses others
When worship is done for the wrong reasons, it doesn’t bring a sweet smell
to the house, it stinks up the place.
It’s kind of like trying to play a piece of music with the
wrong instrument, like the newly famous “Vuvuzela” of the World Cup Soccer
“Classic Vuvuzela” clip … it gets “Ugly”…
When worship is
done correctly, it affects those around us. The fragrance fills the entire house.
Jesus said that what Mary had done would bless people all around the world.
(Mk 14:9 NKJV) Assuredly, I say to you,
wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done
will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Even though we don’t do worship for others, they are affected by it.
4. It will be misunderstood
We’re going to see that the disciples weren’t sure what to make of Mary’s
act. It’s as if the other people at church didn’t get it.
danced before the Lord, he had a bad reaction from his family.
His wife Michal didn’t understand. She called David an
(2 Sa 6:20 NKJV) …And Michal the daughter of
Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel
today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as
one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”
:4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray
:4 who would
betray Him –
John wants to make sure you don’t mistake this Judas with another Judas,
like the apostle (John 14:22) also known as Thaddaeus, or Jesus’ own
John also wants to make sure you know a little more about Judas Iscariot’s background
as you follow the story.
:5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given
to the poor?”
These are the first chronologically recorded words of Judas in the gospels.
:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a
thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
– kleptes – an embezzler, pilferer
How did John know Judas was a thief? They must have discovered it after
Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. Perhaps after Judas killed
himself, somebody decided to order an audit and found that there was money
We know that when Judas betrayed Jesus, money was involved.
Matthew tells us what happened immediately after this particular supper:
(Mt 26:14–15 NKJV) —14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went
to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver
Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
Can I say that if you are living your life with no other goal in mind than
to get more money, that you’re in dangerous company?
(1 Ti 6:9–10 NKJV) —9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and
a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction
and perdition. 10 For the
love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from
the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many
:6 not that he
cared for the poor – the point is that Judas did NOT care for the
poor, he only cared for himself.
Last week we talked about the amazing Caiaphas, and how God can speak truth through the most
This week it’s
just the opposite.
The guy you should be trusting, a “disciple” of Jesus, one of the inner
circle, says something that ought to sound okay to most people.
But his heart isn’t in the right place.
You can’t always trust what people say.
Mark records that Judas’ opinion affected the other disciples as well:
(Mk 14:4–5 NKJV) —4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves,
and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for
more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her
What Judas said sounded right to the other disciples as
well and they joined in with condemning Mary for her extravagant worship.
We need to learn to test what we listen to.
(1 Th 5:21–22 NKJV) —21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from
every form of evil.
the chicken, spit out the bones.
:7 But Jesus
said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.
– entaphiasmos – preparation of a
body for burial; by the use baths, vestments, flowers, wreathes, perfumes, etc.
was only a week away. I wonder if some of the scent of this spikenard was still
on Him at His death.
It is interesting to note that after Jesus’ death, when the women went to
the tomb on Sunday morning to anoint His body, Mary of Bethany wasn’t with them
(Mark 16:1) – she had already anointed Him.
:8 For the poor
you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
:8 but Me
you do not have always
Jesus isn’t saying that we should not care for the poor. He’s just saying
that at this particular moment, there was something more important.
Some of us can
become so rigid in the priorities we set in life that we panic when things
don’t fit our scheme of things.
Priorities are good. Self-discipline is good.
Sometimes we need to loosen up a bit.
There are times when we need to see that our priorities might not be as
important as the thing in front of us.
It’s possible that we might have some things a little wrong…
Like this fellow who had just bought his first boat and
asked his friends advice in how to launch it.
They told him, “Just don’t let the trailer get too deep in the water
when you’re launching your boat, and you should be fine”. Well later on, he couldn’t
understand what they meant by that, as he could just barely get his trailer in
Are you flexible?
:9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not
for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised
from the dead.
:10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,
:11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in
:11 on account of
Isn’t that amazing? How blind can you be?
A man has been raised from the dead, and they want to put him to death
because people believe in Jesus because of him.
God used Lazarus’ life as a witness to lead many to Christ.
What did Lazarus do to be this great witness?
This is what grace is all about. We don’t do anything to
deserve what God has done for us.
He did lose the grave clothes
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus still had on
the grave clothes.
Jesus told the people around him to help him get out of
the grave clothes.
People don’t need to see you still wrapped up in your old
life. They need to see that you’ve gotten rid of the old life (with some help
from your friends), and that your life has changed.
Your “witness” or “testimony” is not about what you’ve done for God.
It is not about all the things you’ve given up to be a Christian.
It’s about what God
has done for you. The new life that God has given to you.
The more people see what God has done in your life, and the fewer the grave
clothes, the better.
Play “Jesus is