Online Worship for Lent One, Sunday February 21, 2021
Sermon for Lent One – 2,29,04 -- Sunday February 21, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace to you and peace from God who is our father by faith in His Son Jesus Christ, a gift worked by the Holy Spirit, that God alone might be glorified for the Salvation of Mankind. Amen.
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 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 sharply.
6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 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.”
In the Name of Jesus,
Whose priceless blood redeemed us to God,
Dear Fellow Believers Redeemed by His Blood –
It would doubtless today be described as extravagant. No doubt some would describe it as ‘poor stewardship’.
It took 4 years to plan and purchase all of the materials to build this church. It took 153,000 men to gather those materials.
It’s cedar walls and furnishings were inlaid or covered with about 90,000 pounds of gold. (If my math is correct that amounts to 1.4 million oz, which today would amount to 2.4 billion worth of gold.) The builders insisted on using only the best possible materials.
This building was not built completely by free-will offerings; all the people bore the load through heavy taxes. I’ve said enough, haven’t I? We would certainly agree that such a building was simply too extravagant, too expensive.
Well, I’m not talking about the cost of building the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, I’m talking about the Temple of the LORD, built by Solomon according to specifications given by GOD.
Now, it is certainly true that such a building would be far beyond our means as a small congregation in Michigan. On the other hand, their attitude was one that we ought to strive to emulate.
What was their attitude?
It was that nothing was too good for the GOD who rescued them from slavery in Egypt and led them and fed them and gave them a rich bountiful land and all that they had and promised them Eternal Life in the Christ.
Consequently, they didn’t do what so many do today, they didn’t seek the cheapest possible materials. They didn’t doubt or question that GOD would continue to provide for them. They asked themselves, “Are we giving our best to the LORD, or are we giving leftovers?” They were led by their love for the LORD to say, Only the LORD is worthy of such beauty and glory.
We give only the best to our GOD. Giving only the best doesn’t mean being foolish, it means asking ourselves, honestly, what is my best? Does what I give properly express my thanks for what Christ has done for me?
Is this my best, or is this all I’m willing to give of what is left over after providing for my own personal needs and comfort? May God grant that we evaluate and honestly ask ourselves such questions, as we consider a number of texts during the Sundays of Lent under the theme, Only Jesus. This morning, Only Jesus is worth that much. Amen.
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
It usually happens during the Christmas Season or on a Birthday. Someone hands you a gift, and when you open it up you find an expensive item. So, you say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have…you’ve really overdone it this time. This is too much.”
Now you may mean what you say; you may think that the person ought not have spent so much. Since it would hurt their feelings, it would be rude to refuse the gift. It seems to me that sometimes when a costly gift is given to us, we tend to forget the nature of a gift, just what a gift is.
A gift is something freely given by someone else. If it were deserved or earned it would be called payment.
A gift depends on someone else’s love, kindness and generosity. A gift is not what you think they should give; a gift is the givers to give.
We are told that Jesus was eating supper in Bethany in the home of a man named Simon, who had been or was afflicted with the disease known as leprosy. As Jesus ate, a woman came in with a gift for Him, a very expensive gift. It was a bottle of very fragrant oil, it was pure, not watered down, and was valued in excess of 300 denarii.
Now this amount probably doesn’t mean much to us, since we don’t deal in denarii today, but dollars. A denarius was a day’s wage, specifically the amount that a Roman Soldier was paid for a day’s work. The woman’s gift cost what the average person would make after 300 days of work.
If you make the current minimum wage, the cost would be about $17,400.00.
The woman broke the sealed bottle and poured the entire contents on Jesus’ head. The potent smell of her gift must have filled the room. But what should have smelled good to all did not smell good to some of them.
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 sharply.
It seems that there were some among Jesus’ disciples who were annoyed. They assumed that the woman did not understand the true value of the perfume, and if she had she would not have wasted it in this fashion. They offered at least one option that they believed preferable to pouring it on Jesus. They began scolding her for her gift.
Why did they scold her? They believed it was a waste. I’m sure that none of them would have come right out and said it, but they didn’t think that Jesus was worth it.
It would have been fine to spend a year’s wages to feed the poor, but not on such an extravagant gift for Jesus. I would guess that had we been there, we might also have agreed with the majority and perhaps we would have joined to criticize.
The problem is, it was her gift to give. What’s more, we can only see the gift, not the reason for giving.
It’s interesting to note that on two different occasions during His earthly ministry Jesus praised someone’s gift. On one occasion –
Jesus praised a widow in the temple because she gave a mite into the treasury, a fraction of a penny, a tiny amount.
Jesus praised this woman’s gift, an $17,400 dollar gift to a minimum wage earner today.
What in the world do those gifts have in common?
They were both given in faith, an expression of love. The widow gave the last of her money in faith, trusting that God would continue to provide for her – only God is worth that much. This woman also gave her gift in faith, out of love for Jesus.
Only Jesus is worth that much. So, Jesus stood up for her and her faith.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 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.”
What this woman had done, Jesus said, was a good thing. Jesus added that there will always be people in need, and you may help them whenever you wish. She would not, however, always have such an opportunity to give to Jesus.
What Jesus said is still true today. There will always be people in need and we may help them whenever and however we wish. We should do so remembering that all men are objects of Christ’s own love. God has promised that he will provide the necessities of life.
We may not, however, always have opportunity like we do now to give back to Jesus. Now, I’m not going to suggest that you give 82% of your wages. After all, a gift is to be determined by the giver, not someone else.
Whatever you give let it be given cheerfully in faith, an expression of love for Jesus. Let it be done – not to keep up with the Joneses or any other fleshly reason. Let all giving, whether it be time, talents or money, be done according to the principle set down in Scriptures (2 Corinthians 9:7-8):
7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Do everything that Jesus might be glorified -- because only Jesus is worth that much.
The world will always tell us that we are worth it.
Satan will always want us to think, “That’s too expensive for the church. We can give our old, used, warn out things to the church, but not our best.” They are wrong.
It’s not a matter of dollar signs deciding the value of a thing. It’s a matter of faith – trusting that the LORD will continue to provide for us. It’s a principle, to give the best of my time, talents to His service.
It’s an attitude of faith that says -- only Jesus is worth that much.
Why is only Jesus worth that much? The Apostle Paul answers that question like this (2 Corinthians 8:9):
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
Only Jesus was willing to give up everything so that we might be blessed with unperishable eternal blessings. Only Jesus could offer the sacrifice to make us right with God today, tomorrow and forever. Only Jesus could rise again from death to assure us of Eternal blessing.
Jesus is worthy of the very best we give of our time, talents, and gifts and more.
May God grant that by His cross and through His love we are moved always and, in all things, to give Him our best.