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John 12:1-9


Intro:  The word “extravagant” is defined as “1. spending too much: characterized by spending excessively or wastefully; 2. beyond what is reasonable: exaggerated or unreasonable; 3. unreasonably high in price: unreasonably high in price or cost; 4. flamboyant: profusely or exaggeratedly decorated, decorative, or showy.[i]  It has the idea of “going overboard, of doing too much.”  Our text talks about a woman named Mary.  We are told that she gave a gift to Jesus that some people thought was overboard.  Some people thought what Mary did for Jesus was excessive, over the top, simply too much.  In other words, many thought Mary’s gift to Jesus was extravagant.

      Now, I would be the first to agree that many things in our society are extravagant.  When I hear of someone spending 2 million dollars on a wedding, I think that is extravagant, over the top, simply too much!  When I hear of someone spending $10,000 for one night in a hotel room, I think that is extravagant.  I think spending $250,000 on an automobile is extravagant.  I could go on and on telling you what I think is extravagant. 

      Now, often the word “extravagant” has negative connotations.  It is used in a bad way.  And, when we see people take the blessings they have been given by the Lord and squander them on themselves, it is a bad thing.  However, when a person expresses their love and worship for Jesus Christ in an extravagant manner, there is nothing negative about that!  After all, He is worthy of everything we can render to Him, because all we have comes from Him anyway.  No gift is excessive; no expression of love is over the top, and no form of worship should ever be considered too extravagant to give to Jesus.

      I would like to take a few minutes to look in on this scene as it is presented in our text today.  I think the worship of Mary has much to teach us about what our own worship of the Lord Jesus should be like.  Let’s look into these verses together and learn how to worship our Savior in an extravagant manner.  I want to preach for a few minutes on A Portrait Of Extravagant Worship.



A. She broke a box of ointment and poured it on the head of Jesus and the feet of Jesus, See Mark 14:3. This ointment was valued at 300 pence. A pence was the daily wage of the average worker. Therefore, in modern terms, it would be worth fifteen and twenty thousand dollars!

            This spikenard was produced from a rare plant that grew in India. It was hard to acquire and it was very expensive. People were forced to save for many years just to be able to provide enough ointment for their own funeral.

B.  In the breaking of this box, two ancient eastern customs are in view. The first has to do with the breaking of glasses. When a distinguished person ate in a home, often the glass they had used was broken to prevent a lesser person from using it in the future. This may have been in Mary's mind as she broken the box.

            Another custom had to do with burial rituals. After the body of the deceased had been washed and anointed, the box that had contained the embalming spices was broken and the fragments were buried with the individual.

            Perhaps these were in Mary's mind. However, I like to imagine that she broke the vessel so that she might extract every drop of ointment for use on the Lord Jesus.

C. Regardless of the reason, one thing is clear: Mary gave everything she possessed to the Lord Jesus Christ! I wonder, have we broken the alabaster box of our life and poured out ourselves, every drop for Him? This is the thought that occupied the mind of Paul as he faced his own death, 2 Tim. 4:6!

D. We should look at our lives and ask ourselves if we have given everything we have and are to Him. You see, Mary's sacrifice was the ultimate expression of her love and worship of the Lord Jesus. She gave all she had!  After all, Jesus said, “She hath done what she could,Mark 14:8.

            Have we placed everything we are on the altar for Him? Think about it seriously. What have you given to Him and what have you held back for yourself?  When we love Jesus with all of our hearts, and when He occupies the proper place within our hearts, no price will be too great and no gift too extravagant to give to Him for all He has given to us!


      (Ill. 0. Henry's short story called "The Gift of the Magi," illustrates the idea very well. It is the story of a young couple named Della and Jim. They were a poor couple but they loved each other deeply. Each one had their own unique possession. Della's hair was her pride and joy. When she let her hair down it was like a robe on her back. Jim had a gold watch, which his father had given him.

            On the day before Christmas, Della had exactly $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She wanted to get him something he would really like, but she knew that she could not get much with a $1.87. She did the only thing she could do. She went and sold her hair for $20.00. With the money she bought a platinum chain for Jim's precious watch.

            Jim came home from work that night. When he saw Della's shorn head, he was left speechless. Slowly he handed her his gift. His gift was a set of expensive tortoise-shell combs with jeweled edges for her lovely hair. He had sold his gold watch to buy them for her. Each had given all he or she had to give.)



A. In Christ's day, people did not sit at a table to eat their meals. The tables they used were low to the floor, and the people reclined around the table at meal time. Typically, their heads were near the table while their feet were farther away. This would mean that anyone walking up to a person in such a position would be considerably taller than the person at the table. It is, therefore, assured that Mary would have assumed a kneeling position near Jesus, in order to anoint His head and His feet with the ointment.

            In this one moment of time, Mary was making a great statement of surrender. By kneeling to Him and anointing Him, she was declaring her faith in Him as the Messiah. She was telling everyone who saw her do what she did that her faith was in the Lord Jesus Christ. She, at that moment, surrendered all to Him!

B. By her selfless act of love and worship, Mary was making a tremendous statement concerning Who she believed Jesus to be. Four classes of people who were anointed those day: Kings (2 Kings 9:3), Priests (Ex. 29:7), Prophets (1 Kings 19:16) and the dead (John 19:39-40; Luke 23:56; Mark 16:1). I believe that by her act of worship, Mary was acknowledging Jesus to be all of those things to her heart.

      Certainly, Jesus is all of those things. He is the King of Kings, Rev. 19:16. He is the Great High Priest, Heb. 3:1. He is the Prophet, Matt. 13:31. He was dead, but is alive forevermore, Rev. 1:18. This is what Mary believed about Jesus and she demonstrated her surrender to Him as all those things by her act of love and worship.

C. Mary was more in touch with Who Jesus was and is than His own disciples were. She believed that He was about to die. They did not! Apparently she knew that His body would not available to anoint after death, so she did it ahead of time. No doubt her faith enabled her to see beyond the cross and the tomb to a day when Jesus would rise from the dead and occupy the throne of glory in Heaven. She was absolutely surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ.

D.  Her humility is on display in two profound ways.  First, Mary was willing to do the work of a common slave for the Lord Jesus.  Then, she was also willing to be seen in public with her hair down. This was a sign of an immoral woman. It appears that Mary was totally unselfconscious in her adoration and love of the Lord Jesus.

            She didn't care what others thought. She didn’t care about their gasps, their stares or their ridicule! Not only has she surrendered her possessions, she had also surrendered her pride.  Her primary focus was serving and honoring the Lord.

E. What about us? Are we as surrendered as Mary? Does the life you live reveal you kneeling before Him as absolute Lord and God? When Mary came to the feet of Jesus and gave her all; truly she had done all that she could do. When we get there, we can go no farther with Jesus. Just as Mary broke the box of ointment so that every drop might be extracted, let us break our lives on His altar so that He might extract the very last drop of glory from us. That is the price of surrender! 

            We should be so grateful for all that He has done for us that we are totally uninhibited and unashamed in the expression of our love and worship for Jesus. Therefore, we should allow our pride to die and show a lost and dying world that we are not ashamed to worship, witness, or work for the glory of Him who died to set us free. After all, our love for Him is in direct response to His love us, 1 John 4:19.



A. Mary appears center stage three times in the Gospel record.  Every time she shows up, she is doing the same thing: she is found at the feet of Jesus.  The first time she appears it is at her own home.  Martha is working, preparing a meal for Jesus and the others and Mary is sitting at His feet listening to Him teach, Luke 10:38-42.  The next time we meet her is at the tomb of Lazarus.  He has just died and Jesus has arrived at the tomb.  Mary runs to Jesus and bows at His feet in supplication, John 11:28-32.  The last time we see her is here, in our text tonight.  She offers her worship to Him because of what He means to her. John 12:1-12; Mark 14:1-9; Matt. 26:6-13.

            As we see Mary on the three occasions I mentioned, it is easy to witness the enlargement of her heart for worship, and of her capacity to worship, the Lord Jesus.  The first time we see her in Luke 10, she is sitting at His feet as one Learning.  She wants to hear His Word.  The next time we meet her, in John 11, she is at His feet as oneLeaning.  She wants to experience His Works.  Here, she is at His feet as one Loving.  She wants to declare His Worth.

B.  Mary demonstrates the kind of steady progress that should mark the worship of every child of God!  As we mature in the Lord, as we learn from His Word; lean on Him and experience His mighty Works in our live and as we learn to love Him more than anything, our worship should become more and more extravagant.

C.  You see, everyone there that day had a reason to worship the Lord Jesus.  Let’s look at the evidence:

      1.  Lazarus had just been raised from the dead; but he is not worshiping, he is watching!

      2.  Simon the Leper has been healed of leprosy, and the God of creation is dining at his house; but he is not worshiping, he is also watching.

      3.  Martha had witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead just like Mary did; but she is not worshiping, she is working and worrying.

      4.  Eleven of the disciples had experienced the saving touch of Jesus Christ and had been called to follow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; but they are not worshiping, they are just watching.

      5.  Judas Iscariot is in the presence of the only One Who could save him from his sin and deliver him from Hell; but he is complaining and finding fault, instead of worshiping.  In fact, all eyes had been on Jesus until Judas opened his mouth! (Ill. Some folks ought to think about that!)

      6.  Then there is Mary!  She did what any of the others could have done.  But, instead of holding back, she took the initiative and honored the Lord Jesus.  Here was a woman who loved the Lord more than anything.  As a result, she engages in profound worship at His feet.  She bowed herself before Him.  She did not care what anyone else thought.  She opened her heart, and then she opened her hands, giving all she had in humble, intense worship of the Lord.

D.  Is your worship experience growing deeper as the days go by?  As

      you walk in His light, enjoy His salvation and experience His power day by day, can you honestly say that your worship is enlarging?  If you will stop and think for about 1 second, you will realize that you have many wonderful reasons for worship.  Think of all He has done for you!  Think of His salvation, His love, His provision, His grace, His mercy, His presence, etc.  Think of Who He is, what He has done and what He has promised you, then be like Mary, not like the others, and give Him the worship He deserves.


Conc:  When Mary broke that box and poured out that ointment on the head of the Lord Jesus, the Bible says that the “house was filled with the odour of the ointment.  Everyone there was made a part of the experience.  There was no denying that Mary was giving her all in an effort to honor Jesus. Even those who criticized her could enjoy the fragrance of her sacrifice for the Lord.  It probably wasn’t long before the fragrance drifted outside so those around the house could smell it. 

      You see, when the Lord is worshiped by His people in Spirit and in truth, it will be hard to keep it quiet.  The fragrance of our worship will fill this house and follow us out into a lost and dying world.  Like Mary, there may be those who will criticize us, v. 5, but in spite of that, there will always be One Who will receive our worship and honor those who honor Him, Matt. 23:12; 1 Pet. 5:5-6.

      Friends, it honors the Lord when His people express their love for Jesus in extravagant worship.  We should consider no gift too excessive.  We should look at no sacrifice as being too great.  We should praise God for every opportunity to give our all to Him is worship and humble service.

      Has the vessel of your life been broken?  Is the worship of your life being poured out at the feet of Jesus?  Does the scent of your love for Him permeate your life with the sweet fragrance of Heaven?  Or, is there room for more sacrifice; more love and more worship?  Why don’t you bring all you have and all you are to Him tonight?  Why don’t you lay it all down at His feet as the ultimate expression of your love and worship?

[i] Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


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