Our culture likes going to the extreme. We watch shows like “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”. Each game or reality show is trying to out-extreme the other with shows like “Survivor”, “Amazing Race”, “Minute to Win It”, “Wipeout”. I even saw a show on the TLC channel called Extreme Poodles. We participate in Extreme Fitness or Extreme Sports such as Skiing, Skateboarding, Biking, Motorcross Racing. You can even go on Extreme Vacations and eat Extreme Foods.
The idea of being extreme is enticing to us. It elevates our senses. It raises our actions toward greater significance.
In Mark 14 we see an extreme action. It is extreme because it is unusual and unexpected. A woman does something so significant that it is recorded in all 4 Gospels and Jesus promises that her story will be told throughout the whole world in memory of her.
As you read this passage, you will be challenged to become like this woman. You are invited towards extreme and extravagant worship. Why? This story gives you 3 reasons to worship God in extreme ways.
We worship God for His transforming power (14:1-3).
Jesus is continuing his journey to the cross. While at Bethany he reclines at a dinner banquet with friends. The other Gospel’s share some of the names of those who were there. We know these were there:
Simon the leper: Not much is known about him. Leprosy was a skin disease that included anything from rashes, to running sores to even loss of fingers or toes. As a leper he would have been viewed as unclean and unfit to worship God (Lev 13:3). In addition, he would have been quarantined and isolated from other members in the community. In this case, for the disciples to eat publicly with Simon we can safely assume that Simon is a leper no more, healed by Jesus.
Lazarus: Lazarus was one of Jesus’ closes friends. He was also one whom Jesus performed one of the
greatest miracles of bringing him back from death to life.
Wouldn’t you want to be at this dinner party to ask questions, it’s not often you meet someone who has died. Questions like: What was it like to die? Are you sad that you have to die again? What was heaven like? Can you describe God? Who broke the news to you that you had to come back… An angel says, “Look Lazarus, Martha won’t stop crying, Mary’s crying and now Jesus is crying; sorry pal, you’re going back.”
Mary: She is the unnamed woman in Mark’s Gospel. She was Lazarus’ sister who had seen Jesus resurrect her brother. Jesus told her sister and her to believe he was the resurrection and the life.
The Gospels constantly are introducing us to ordinary people who meet Jesus and are forever changed. Jesus’ transforming power is the extreme experience we all seek. Yet, many of us seek it in alternative places. The point of the Gospels is to show us that we too can be a disciple. We too can meet Jesus and worship Him.
ð Have you met Jesus?
ð Are you seeking transformation in places other than Jesus?
– Story of man
We worship God for His supreme worth (14:3-5).
At the dinner, Mary enters the room carrying an “alabaster jar” containing a very expensive perfume. It is said that it cost three hundred denarii, which was approximately a year’s worth of wages. Mary could have used the money or perfume for her own needs or she could have used it to help others in need. Yet, she chose to use it solely for the purpose of anointing Jesus.
She broke the jar and poured it on Jesus. No doubt, the fragrance of the room permeated with the perfume smell. It caused such a stir that those in the room began to rebuke Mary and argue whether or not this action was proper.
When someone does something extreme or radical for Jesus there is always debate. Somehow she understood the value of her actions failed to compare to the worth of Jesus. Her life had been radically transformed that nothing was too great for God.
Extreme devotion to Jesus will result in abandoned affection toward Jesus; radical sacrifice, bold obedience and immeasurable risks of faith.
ð When is the last time you showed public affection for Jesus?
– Some sing in worship; others stare. Which are you?
ð When is the last time you did something sacrificial for Jesus?
– Giving at 10% should be a start. Mary gave an entire year’s salary.
– What area of your life is God asking you to sacrifice?
ð How are you showing that Jesus has supreme worth and value in your life?
***At this time, as a church body, we are going to express worth to Jesus through song. I want to encourage you to be extreme, be bold, be affectionate toward the Lord in worship. Be like Mary.
We worship God to proclaim to future generations (14:6-9).
After Mary’s actions and the disciples gave debate about her extreme measures of worship; Jesus said this:
“She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has done what she could… 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.”
Mary captured a moment. She also lived her life in extravagation devotion towards the gospel. Jesus was saying that her actions would be a living legacy that would go on to future generations.
Reformer Martin Luther said I feel as though Christ died only yesterday.
ð Is that how you feel? Have you encountered the gospel in such a way that when you consider Christ’s death that you view it as deeply personal? Are you moved to extreme worship and devotion because of God’s grace?
- We all are sinners, separated and condemned from God, destined for eternal hell.
- Yet, God chose to punish his own Son rather than us. This is mercy. This is grace.
- Those that are moved by this action and repent of sin, and turn toward faith in Christ are saved.
- “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
ð Are you capturing moments like Mary? Are you living out the gospel in extravagant worship so others will know the transforming power and supreme worth of Jesus?
HERE I AM TO WORSHIP; HERE I AM TO BOW DOWN; HERE I AM TO SAY YOU’RE MY GOD
YOU’RE ALL TOGETHER LOVELY, ALL TOGETHER WORTHY, ALL TOGETHER WONDERFUL TO ME
I’LL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH IT COST TO SEE MY SIN UPON THAT CROSS