Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, the one who bled and died for our sins, dear friends in Christ, is it worth it? How often do you say that phrase? You know, we’re constantly making value judgments in our life, aren’t we? $2.50 for a dozen eggs, seriously, is it worth it? $39 for a new pair of jeans, really? Is it worth it? I suppose I could change the oil in my car myself…but…is it worth it? I suppose I could drive to my friend’s house, but the roads are slick and icy, is it worth it? There’s so many things in life that we make value judgments for, aren’t there? Is it worth it? We weigh our options and make a decision.
There’s a value judgment in our text, isn’t there? Along with a heart searching question. Would you do this? Would you or I do what Mary did here? Now, we need to keep in mind a couple things. We’re told of two different incidents in the gospels about Jesus’ being anointed by someone. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry he was anointed by a woman we assume to have been Mary Magdalene, she was a prostitute who came to Jesus while he was eating at a Pharisee’s home and wet Jesus’ feat with her tears and wiped them with her hair. This, however, is a different incident. This is most likely the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Jesus is at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany which was only 2 miles from Jerusalem. Was he someone who had leprosy whom Jesus cured? Seems so. Well, here a meal was being served in Jesus’ honor and Lazarus was there – Lazarus who was dead for four days and Jesus raised to life, as well as at least Jesus’ disciples. So at least 15 men are at this meal. John also tells us that Martha was serving. Matthew here simply says “a woman” and John tells us who this woman was: Mary. She came up to Jesus with an alabaster jar of perfume. An alabaster jar was a kind of stone that had a neck on it and when you were going to use this perfume you had to break the jar. And it wasn’t just any perfume it was pure nard. Extracted from a plant in India it took a lot of work, a lot of expense, and a lot of time on a camel to import it to Israel. Was this a family heirloom? Perhaps. And we’re told that it was “very expensive.” John again informs us that it was worth about a year’s wages. So in modern day, we could imagine possibly at least $25,000-30,000. And she poured it out, all of it on Jesus! Would you have done that? Would I?
The disciples are simply shocked while watching this and only one word can come to their mind with regard to this extravagance: waste! What a waste! This could have been sold and the money given to the poor! What a waste! But notice what Jesus says: Why are you bothering her? She’s done a beautiful thing. When she poured this perfume on my body she did it to prepare me for my…burial.
You know, Jesus had told his disciples on numerous occasions about his upcoming death. He told His disciples that he would be betrayed, rejected, suffer many things, be beaten, mocked, sentenced to death, be crucified, die and be buried. He had told them that He was the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep. Jesus had even named the Jewish ruling council as the ones who will carry out the plot on His life. But then when it happens the disciples all abandon Jesus. But, we do know of at least one who was listening, one who got it, Mary.
While the disciples missed it, she got it. She understood that Jesus’ death was both near and imminent. She knew that Jesus’ death wasn’t going to be by chance either. Jesus had clearly said, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus’ death on the cross was going to be a payment for her sins. So what did she do? She gave Jesus her best. There wasn’t going to be time to anoint His body when He died, so she did it now. And as the fragrance of the perfume filled the house, its smell was beautiful, but it’s message was strong: Jesus was going to die. This unlikely messenger Mary showed how much Jesus and His death was worth to her.
How much is Jesus worth to you? How much is He worth to me? Is He worth breaking not an alabaster jar, but breaking that sinful habit? Is Jesus worth taking that pet sin – you know the one we like to keep close to us and not let it go- and killing it? Is Jesus worth your time, your dedication? Is Jesus worth 20 minutes reading His Word a day? What is Jesus worth to you? Is Jesus worth pouring out not perfume, but pouring out my wants for life, my desires for life, my hopes, my dreams, and laying them at Jesus’ feet, submitting my life to Him and His will? How often haven’t we been like those disciples and thought: Jesus isn’t worth it.
Mary showed her costly and humble devotion to her Lord who would soon be going to the cross. Mary showed her faith in Jesus by showing that He was worth everything to her. And isn’t this the beautiful picture we have every Lent is to see once again how much WE are worth to Jesus? He considered YOU worth it to suffer at the hands of evil people, He considered YOU worth it to be tortured on a cross and die a horrid death. You see, to Jesus you are worth everything. It wasn’t with gold or silver that you were bought back from your previous way of life but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect! God spent His blood on you! How much does that make you worth? How much is God’s blood worth? Priceless. To Jesus that is what you are! This Lent once again see how much you’re worth to God and serve Him with all you have and are for He is worth it to you!