This week, in Mark 14:3-11, we saw an anonymous woman anoint Jesus with some very expensive, aromatic ointment, all as a beatiful act of adoration. We also saw two reactions from those who witnessed the woman’s adoration of Jesus. As we saw the entire story unfold, we made note of two things for Christians to be on guard against as we aim to adore Christ.
1. Outright Betrayal:
In verses 10-11, we saw Judas betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:15), roughly the equivalent of $7,500 in modern times. Obviously, this is not a monumental sum of money, but it was significant enough for Judas to betray Jesus for. For us today, we might not have a group of chief priests tempting us with 30 pieces of silver, but we’re certainly tempted to betray Jesus with other things:
- A shady business deal.
- A moment of pleasure with someone who is not our spouse.
- Cheating on a test.
- Plagiarizing a term paper.
- Presenting falsehood on taxes.
Anytime we’re talking about outright sin, we’re talking about betraying Jesus, just as Judas did. It might be difficult for us to identify ourselves with Judas, but it’s good for us to recognize the temptations that might lead us to an outright betrayal of Christ. As we identify those temptations, we must also guard ourselves from them by pointing ourselves to the gospel, reminding ourselves that Christ has been unashamedly faithful to us in taking on the human nature and the cross (Phil 2:5-11; Heb 12:2) to pay for the shame of our sin. It’s a truth that encourages and motivates us to live for him and his glory—to despise the momentary and selfish pleasure that comes at the expense of betraying Jesus.
But there’s a subtler form of disloyalty we also need to guard our hearts from…
2. Subtle Unfaithfulness:
In verses 3-9, we saw the anonymous woman use all of her ointment—worth about a year’s salary—in her adoration of Jesus. We noticed how the dinner guests became indignant over the seeming waste. After all, the ointment could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor—a very good and noble motive. But Jesus tells the dinner guests to leave the woman alone, (1) because her act was beautiful (good; excellent; honorable), and (2) because her act was a timely preparation for his upcoming burial.
We learned: There will always be individuals to help, but at that time, the priority was to adore Christ. This might seem a bit odd to us. We know we’re commanded to help the needy (Lev 19:9-10; Prov 14:31; Matt 5:42), and we know that good works are a way to adore Christ (Rom 12:1; Eph 2:10). But the Bible also suggests there is a time for everything (Eccl 3:1-8), and so at that time, the priority for the woman was to adore Jesus.
Have you ever been tempted to think there might be better, nobler, benevolent things we could do with our time and resources on a Sunday morning than to adore Christ, together?
- Feeding the homeless.
- Helping a friend move into a new apartment.
These are all good, altruistic things we could be doing. But, again, our story encourages us: There will always be people to help; sometimes, adoration of Jesus should be our priority. Here’s the thing: It will always be worth it to adore him! So let’s guard our hearts from this subtler form of unfaithfulness to Christ, and let’s do so by pointing ourselves—once more—to the gospel, reminding ourselves that Jesus, the innocent one, made us, the guilty ones, his priority (1 Pet 3:18), that we would be encouraged to make him our priority in all that we do. Sometimes, our adoration will take on the form of good works. But at other times, like on Sunday mornings, we set even good things aside to adore Christ.
So let’s guard our hearts from both outright betrayal and subtle unfaithfulness, and let’s continue to joyfully adore Jesus every Sunday morning, together! For further discussion, here is the order of worship insert with the small group questions: Mark 14.3-11 Insert.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abindantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
In Christ’s service,