Kobe Union Church
2016 April 17
“One Very Special Gospel Story”
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Good morning church.
In the context of Mark 14, Jesus said “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her “
Here is a real life story about a woman, what she did, and Jesus actually commissioned her story to be told wherever in the world the gospel is preached.
In the context of Mark 14, I want to talk about four things which created a lot of extra attention that made this life story special.
One – the market price and value of that alabaster flask of ointment
According to eye witness account in the Gospel, that flask of ointment had a market value of “more than three hundred denarii”
A common noted view of “three hundred denarii” was about a year’s wage in those days.
How much is that in today’s context?
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) did an Economic Survey of Japan for the year 2015. (Last year)
The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita was USD 26 111 a year. And for the North American in the same year, the figure was USD 41 000/-
How would you like to pay USD 41 000/- for a bottle of perfume, and you pour all of it in one go, over your head?
This woman did that for Jesus.
So you can understand why people were making lots of noises over it.
There is another interesting opinion about the value of that alabaster flask of ointment.
As according to the customs of those days, it was possible that alabaster flask of ointment represented something “more than three hundred denarii”
It could actually represent the woman’s wedding dowry.
Furthermore the size and value of the ointment would parallel her family’s wealth.
What does that mean?
She gave everything to honor Jesus, including her future.
Jesus accepted and honored what she did.
There was another woman who gave everything and trusted her future in the hands of God, and nobody knew her name.
Remember that poor widow who gave two mites into the treasury. (Mark 12:41-44)
Jesus saw what she did.
There are people who sacrificed and nobody knew their names, but Jesus honored their deeds.
Jesus honor people who entrust their life and their future in Him.
Two – questions and debates about giving to the poor.
In v7, Jesus responded to her critiques “for you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.”
Was Jesus against helping the poor?
No, definitely not.
Jesus Himself had an obvious public ministry to the poor and needy
In fact when Jesus delivered His first official sermon in the synagogue, preaching from the writings of Isaiah, Jesus specified His ministry to the poor.
Since the days of the New Testament church in Jerusalem, the world has witnessed many good examples of Christians helping the poor.
It is a good Christian tradition.
Remember there was a rich young ruler, Jesus said to him “sell all you have, give to the poor, and come follow me”
More than just ministering to the poor, Jesus was challenging that young man to follow in His example.
The third thing which I wanted to talk about –
Why she did what she did for Jesus.
Imagine a big party, everyone you knew were there, and Jesus the star attraction was there.
She went forward and empty one whole bottle of perfume, the value of which she knew was truly “more than three hundred denarii”
Everybody went … oooooo, wow … what????
What was she doing?
In our days of social media, we could say she was trying to catch attention.
But Jesus said in v8 “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial”.
I have an important question.
How did she knew Jesus was going to die? And when?
She was paying attention to what Jesus had been preaching and teaching
By then it was no secret about Jesus’ forthcoming betrayal and suffering.
So here is a woman who knew Jesus was going to die and “anointed Jesus’ body beforehand for burial”.
This woman was in fact responding and reacting to the words and teachings of Jesus.
She was doing it for Jesus
I feel her life story is important and practical for us in our days and society.
People get busy everywhere, anywhere and at all times, about so many things of life.
Sometimes we wonder, what on earth are we busy about?
We can become so busy we have no time to listen to what Jesus wanted to say to us in our hearts and minds.
We can become so busy we have no time to response and react to the words and teachings of Jesus.
Finally the fourth thing I wanted to talk about.
Jesus final comment in v9 – “And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Jesus made a specific reference to the gospel being preached in the whole world.
For those of us who are ministry workers, missionaries – we know what that means.
The Great Commission – Jesus was talking about the Great Commission
I believe Jesus in fact endorsed her action and response as part of the Great Commission.
For those of us who are ministry workers, missionaries, we need to ask ourselves
What is the whole purpose of the Great Commission?
My answer is
That people may listen, response and react to the words and teachings of Jesus
This is a life story of a woman who paid attention to Jesus.
This is a life story of a woman who reacts and response to what Jesus had been preaching about the kingdom of God.
Her life story is forever in memorial service in the kingdom of God.
Of course she gave away something that is precious and valuable.
But the most important point is – she entrusted her life and future in Jesus.
That’s her faith in Jesus.
When we listen to Jesus, when we response and react to Jesus, we learn to entrust our life and our future in Jesus.
In closing I like to share one notable quote from a missionary most of us would know –
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
The man who said that was Jim Elliot, who sacrificed his life as a missionary in Ecuador 1956.
Father we give you all the praise, you yourself have given us your most precious gift.
The best we could do is listen and obey.
We give thanks for your son Jesus, who went to the cross that we may live for you.
Our Father in heaven, we commit our time and all that we have unto you.
Teach us, to listen to your son Jesus.
Teach us, to response to Jesus in a way that will be pleasing to you.
We pray all this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus, amen.