"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 49
The Extravagance of Love
Read: Mark 14:1-11
Text: (Mark 14:6 KJV) And Jesus said, … she hath wrought a good work on me.
Theme: Love for Jesus shows itself.
QUESTION - What is love?
QUESTION - How do you prove that you love someone or something? Be specific.
ILLUS. Johnnie's essay on love - "Ten year old Johnnie had to write a composition on love. He wrote: 'Love is something that makes two people think they are pretty when nobody else does. It also makes them sit close together on a bench when there is plenty of room on both ends. Love is something that young people have but old people don't have because it is all about dimples and star-like eyes and curls that old folks don't have. It is something that makes two people very quiet when you are around, also very quiet when you ain't, only in a different way. When they talk it's all about dreams and roses and moonshine. When I grow up I'm not going to fall in love, but if I do, she's got to let me say what to do and let me run the whole show, and that's all I know about love 'til I grow up.'"
QUESTION - Had Jesus wrought any miracles in Bethany?
ANSWER - Raising of Lazarus, cf. John 11
QUESTION - Why is it necessary to conclude that Simon had been previously healed of his leprosy?
ANSWER - Were he still a leper, he would be a social outcast, not a host of a banquet.
QUESTION - What do we know about Mary, her sister, and her brother?
READ Luke 10:38-42, John 11:31-32, 12:1-8
I. Love does lovely things.
"And Jesus said, … she hath wrought a good work on me." (vs. 6b)
A. There are two words for "good" in Greek.
1. AGATHOS - That which is morally good. (Unger - "describes that which, being "good" in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect")
2. KALOS - That which is good, but also "lovely." (Unger - "denotes that which is intrinsically 'good,' and so, 'goodly, fair, beautiful")
B. There is very little that is "lovely" in our world today.
QUESTION - What are some examples that illustrate this point?
1. The world is filled with violence.
2. The world is filled with hatred.
3. The world is filled with ugliness.
C. Christians, out of love for Jesus Christ, should do "lovely" things.
(Gal 6:9 KJV) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
(1 Th 5:21 KJV) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
(Titus 2:14 KJV) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
(Titus 3:8 KJV) This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
(Heb 10:24 KJV) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
QUESTION - Can you think of some Biblical examples of individuals who did "lovely things" for God?
ILLUS. Barnabus, putting his life on the line for Paul.
(Acts 9:26-27 KJV) And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
ILLUS. Paul, pleading for the runaway slave Onesimus.
(Phile 1:18-19 KJV) If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
ILLUS. Mary, anointing Jesus' feet (John 12) and head (Mark 14), wiping His feet with her hair (John 12) after washing them with her tears (John 12)
QUESTION - Can you think of some personal / modern-day examples of individuals who did / do "lovely things" for God?
II. Love does extravagant things.
"… it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence…"
A. The ointment was VERY expensive.
(300 day's wages!)
QUESTION - Put this into today's terms if you can. How much money was this stuff worth?
QUESTION - Didn't Judas have a good point? How do we balance stewardship / care of the poor and worship? After all, Jesus was very concerned for the poor.
(Luke 4:18 KJV) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
(Luke 6:20 KJV) And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
(Luke 18:22 KJV) Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
(John 13:29 KJV) For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
(And yet, Ivor Powell makes an interesting point:)
QUOTE Ivor Powell, Mark's Superb Gospel - "Actually in the sight of God, Mary retained what she sacrificed; the critics lost what they withheld. Unfortunately, only people with spiritual discernment would be able to explain this strange mathematical reasoning."
B. Love doesn't count the cost.
QUESTION - What do you think of the following quote?
QUOTE - T. DeWitt Talmage says, "That woman could have gotten a vase that would not have cost so much as those made of alabaster. She might have brought perfume that would have cost only fifty pense; this cost three hundred. As far as I can understand, her whole fortune was in it. She might have been more economical; but no - she gets the very best box, and puts in it the very best perfume, and pours it all out on the head of her Redeemer. My brothers and sisters in Christ, the trouble is that we bring to Jesus too cheap a box. If we have one of alabaster and one of earthenware, we keep the first for ourselves, and give the latter to Christ. We owe Jesus the best of our time, the best of our talents, the best of everything. Is there an hour in the day when we are wider awake than any other, more capable of thought and feeling, let us bring that to Christ. We are apt to take a few moments in the morning when we are getting awake, or a few moments at night when we are getting asleep, for Jesus. If there be an hour in the day when we are most appreciative of God's goodness, and Christ's pardon, and Heaven's joy, oh, that is the alabaster box to bring to Jesus. We owe Christ the very best years of our life. When the sight is clearest, when the hearing is acutest, when the arm is the strongest, when the nerves are the steadiest when the imagination is the brightest, let us come to Jesus, and not wait until our joints are stiffened with rheumatism, and the glow is gone out of our temperament, and we arise in the morning as weary as when we laid down at night."
QUOTE - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, "If what we call love doesn't take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love."
(Christian love (AGAPAO) is love that expects nothing in return, thus translated "charity" in our KJV.)
Love "… seeketh not her own…" 1 Cor. 13:5
ILLUS. Father of prodigal spared NO EXPENSE in welcoming home his son
(Luke 15:22-23 KJV) But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
ILLUS. Abraham spared NO EXPENSE in offering up his only son (picturing how God would do the same) - cf. Genesis 22
(John 3:16 KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
ILLUS. Jesus spared NO EXPENSE in laying down His life for you and for me!
(John 15:13 KJV) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
C. Christians should demonstrate their love for Jesus no matter the cost.
1. Mary did not let the "cost" stop her.
2. Mary did not let the "stares" of others stop her.
3. Mary did not let the "opinions" of others stop her.
QUOTE - Dan Fortner, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Danville, KY - "When Mary broke open her alabaster box and anointed her Savior with the costly spikenard, "There were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?" They were critical of Mary's devotion and service to Christ. They thought she had acted fanatically for having made such a waste of her goods. They called her work and sacrifice for Christ a waste!
To those pompous, self-righteous do-nothings, the Son of God said, "Let her alone; why trouble ye her?"
The spirit of these narrow minded fault-finders is all too common. Their followers are found in every age. Pious acting, self-righteous worldlings are quick to denounce what they call "extremes" in religion. Dedication and commitment to Christ they call "fanaticism". They always urge "moderation" in the service of Christ and his gospel. If a man devotes his time, money, and affection to the pursuit of any worldly interest, they call him wise. If he dedicates himself to the pursuit of riches, fame, and power, they find no fault with him. If he is an athlete and commits himself to exercise, training, and practice, they say he is to be admired for his dedication. Yet, if that same man devotes himself and all that he has to Christ, his worship, his gospel, and the service of his kingdom, the self-righteous worldlings cannot find words ugly enough to express their contempt for him. Consecration to Christ they call a waste, fanaticism, and foolish.
Cold hearts are always slow to do and quick to criticize. You can take this to the bank: Mr. Critical Tongue and Ms. Gossip Jaws are do nothings in the kingdom of God. They can be depended upon for nothing, except finding fault with the service of the faithful.
If a person ever understands the sinfulness of his sin and the mercy, grace, and love of Christ in his sin-atoning death as the sinner's Substitute, he will never imagine that anything is too great or too costly to do for and give to Christ. Rather, he will cry, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits?" He is not afraid of wasting his time, his money, and his life on Christ. He is afraid of wasting them on the world! He is not afraid of doing too much for Christ. He fears giving too much care to the world!"
4. Mary "DID WHAT SHE COULD," while she could, and no matter the cost.
5. Mary brought her VERY BEST to Jesus!
SONG -"I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,
Who died upon the cruel tree?
To think of His great sacrifice at Calv'ry!
I know my Lord expects the best from me."
III. Love does things while it can.
"… She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying."
A. Time was running out to do good things for Jesus.
QUESTION - How much time do you have to serve Christ… to do "lovely" things for Him?
QUESTION - What attitude should we then have in light of this?
ANSWER - URGENCY
B. There are opportunities that only occur once.
ILLUS. Jesus passing by blind Bartimaeus - what if Bartimaeus hadn't shouted.
ILLUS. Tom Malone's story of the time he was soul winning with his daughter in the dead of winter. Freezing, they were about to call it a night, but they decided to knock on one last door. Inside they found a man standing over his kitchen sink, preparing to commit suicide. They led him to Christ, instead, but imagine if they had not knocked on that one last door? Too late.
ILLUS. The story is told of a preacher who went to dinner in a local restaurant. Throughout his meal, he felt impressed of the Holy Spirit to speak to his waiter about eternity, but he procrastinated and left without witnessing to him. Walking to his car, the compulsion from the Spirit of God got the best of him and he returned to the restaurant, only to find out that the man had taken his own life just moments before. Too late.
ILLUS. I have a dear friend in New Jersey who wrote me a letter informing me that after many many years of praying and witnessing, he had finally led his mother to the Lord. She died very shortly thereafter. What if he had given up on her, and not witnessed that one last time? Too late.
C. Christians should show their love for Jesus while there is still time.
QUOTE Ivor Powell, Mark's Superb Gospel - " She listened as the Lord quietly spoke to the audience, but with intuition inherent in women, saw the lines etching His face, and read aright the problems reflected in His eyes. An inner sense told her the disciples were wrong in expecting a kingdom. The Master meant what He had uttered. He was going to Jerusalem to be crucified. She could not understand this; the whole idea seemed terrible, but nevertheless it was true. Mary had no desire to wait and give floral tributes at His funeral. What she had to give should be given immediately. There was no time to be lost."
SONG "Don't look 'neath the gates of pearl…
Don't look on the streets of gold…
Don't look near the walls of jasper…
Or among the many sights untold.
For I've been longing and I've been waiting,
The precious holy One to meet.
There I'll be through the countless ages,
Look for me at Jesus feet."
"And Jesus said, … she hath wrought a good work on me."
Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1998 William E. Johnson.