Text: John 12:1-8
I want you to open your Bibles tonight to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, and John, chapter 12. I am going to read two different accounts concerning the same incident. This is the breaking of the alabaster box which you are familiar with. The reason I’m reading from two different accounts is because each gospel writer saw it from an angle that perhaps the other did not. One puts in what the other leaves out. If two or three of us were to write different accounts of this service tonight, you might include an incident or detail that I might leave out. To get a full picture of what really happened, you would need to read the different accounts. Let us read Mark’s and John’s account of this incident:
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured [it] on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: She has come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily, I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s [son], which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Now, Jesus said (Mark records it in verse 6), Let her alone; Why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. And verse 8, She hath done what she could: She has come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. And then in verse 9, he makes one of the most fantastic and surprising statements: Verily, I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
When I was still in seminary, I was called to pastor a church over in North Dallas. It wasn’t a big church. I think we had about 200 in Sunday School when I went there. It was considered a “full-time” church. By that, I mean they paid me full-time; I don’t mean I worked full-time because I was still going to seminary.
We moved from Fort Worth to Dallas, bought us a home, got some cards printed up with my name on it, and the name of the church. I was really proud. My first full-time church!. I felt like Simeon when he said, Lord, let thy servant now depart for he has seen thy glory. I tell you, I was so proud of that church.
I was having lunch one day with a preacher friend of mine, an older man pastoring quite a large church in Dallas. I was telling him about my church and he was glad to hear about it. He said, well, that’s great Ron, but one of these days the Lord is going to give you a good church to pastor. You know, that was sort of like a pan of cold water thrown on me. I thought it was a good church! Of course, I know what he meant. He was trying to be kind and encouraging. He meant that one day God would give me a big church. That is what he was calling a good church.
I’ve never forgotten that. Through the years, I’ve found that most of us are like my pastor friend. We have a way of highly esteeming that which sometimes to God is an abomination. We evaluate something totally opposite from how God would evaluate it. We call something good if it’s big. A good church today is a church that’s big in size, and budget, and staff. Increasingly I come to realize that what is good is not so much what man calls good, but what Jesus calls good. And that which is highly esteemed among men is sometimes an abomination to God. And that which is an abomination to God is sometimes that which is highly esteemed among men.
When this woman broke her alabaster box, she committed a social grace. The women in that day, particularly in that part of the country, were to stay in the background. They were never to be the center of attention.
And, suddenly, she does something which is so unusual and so out of the ordinary and such a social error that the people immediately begin murmuring against her. She has a very expensive bottle of perfume worth about $50 in our money, which would constitute a full year’s pay for the average laboring man in those days. She breaks that and pours it on the feet and head of Jesus.
Immediately the people begin to criticize her. Judas called it a waste. He said she could have sold it and given the money to the poor. Everybody said, what she had done was a terrible thing; that she should be ashamed of herself. And, you know, they were right. When you get down to think about it, what she did was about the most impractical, useless thing a person could ever do. I think if she had thought a little bit about it, perhaps asked counsel from some people who were wise in those things, she would not have done it. Of what use was it? She wasted that ointment—wasted that perfume. It serve no purpose; it didn’t feed anybody, didn’t clothe anybody, was absolutely useless. They were right to criticize her.
I can hardly wait to hear what the Lord says. I’m sure He must be totally embarrassed, having this done to Him in public. Then He says something, and I can hardly believe my ears. He said, let her alone; she hath wrought a good work on me. I think so highly of what she’s done, I am never going to forget it, and I’m never going to let you forget it. And wheresoever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what this woman has done will be spoken of as a monument to her.
I think that qualifies as a good act of service because of what Jesus said about it. The Lord is constantly surprising us.
I remember the widow who was giving her offering. It is interesting thing that Jesus was standing beside the treasury as the people came by and gave their offerings. I have an urge to follow the ushers down the aisles and watch what everybody puts in some Sunday morning when they start taking up the offering.. I wonder if it would affect the offering. If the pastor were to follow the offering plates next Sunday morning and watch what you put in, it might increase the offering. The Lord is standing there watching and evidently from what he says, there were some quite large gifts.. Here comes a widow. Now, when the Bible wants to describe a person who is living on the very barest of minimums, that person who is more destitute than anybody else, in that day and age and that part of the world, it would be a widow. She drops in her two mites—which is less than a penny I suppose, according to our standards today. The amazing thing is that Jesus says she has given more than everybody else put together. Interesting, isn’t it, what the Lord has to say about what we do.
I’ve often thought it might be pretty interesting if the Lord would just show up physically in our services. We could ask, Lord, what do you think about what is going on here? Sometimes we walk away from a service and say, wasn’t that a great service?. Oh, I’m telling you, that was wonderful. And wasn’t that a tremendous message? Yet, I sometimes want to say, Lord what do you think of it? But I’m not sure I really want to know what he has to say about it. The point I’m making tonight is this that the criteria by which your life and my life is judged is not what you think of it and not what people say about it, but what does Jesus have to say about it. How would He evaluate it? It is the desire of my heart to have that kind of commendation. I surely would like to have the Lord to say about me and what I do,” he hath done a good work. And wheresoever this gospel is preached, I am never going to forget what he has done, and I’ll see to it that others don’t forget it either.”
I want to talk to you tonight on how you can have that kind of commendation. What do I have to do as a follower of Jesus so that he can say of me what he said about this woman. What is it that pleases Jesus? Sometimes we have the idea it’s almost impossible to please Him. How much work do I have to do? To what extent do I have to go? How large a sacrifice do I have to make in order to have the Lord say, I am pleased with what you have done, and I will never forget it. I want to make just three very simple statements tonight. These are simply the statements that Jesus made. I believe in these three statements you have what I think are the necessary requirements for having our Lord’s approval and commendation. You say, “what do I have to do?”
1. Do what you can.
What is it that constitutes good service? What is a good preacher? What’s a good deacon? What’s a good Sunday School teacher? What makes a good church member? Jesus says, do what you can. He was pleased with what this woman did. He said “she hath wrought a good work on me and you leave her alone”.
And look in verse 8. He says, she hath done what she could. That was all that it took to please the Lord. Other people thought what she did wasn’t much. I certainly wasn’t very impressed with what she did. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me like a total waste of money and time. Yet, Jesus said, I am pleased with her. While you may say it wasn’t much, yet she did what she could. Jesus said, I don’t judge people by how much they do, or what they do; I judge them by the opportunity that is placed within their hands. Do what you can.
Do you remember in chapter 11 that Lazarus was raised? In chapter 12, John is very careful to mention that Lazarus is present in the room, and Martha is serving. You see, I think what was happening was this: after Lazarus had been raised, they all met for a kind of fellowship service or praise service or celebration. Don’t you know that Mary and Martha were just bursting with love and gratitude for what Jesus has done. Martha wants to express her gratitude. Martha somehow has to express the love that is in her heart for what the Lord has done. Of course, it is very easy for Martha because she is one of those people who have all kinds of talent and ability. Every time you see Martha, she is in the kitchen; she’s serving. The picture you have of Martha is this highly efficient woman. Now, you never find Mary in the kitchen. I think Mary would have been all thumbs in the kitchen. I think Mary was a contemplator, not a cooker. But it was easy for Martha to express her love for what Jesus has done. She’s serving in the kitchen.
I think about Mary being the younger sister. Evidently she was because Luke refers to it as Martha’s house. Mary is obviously the younger sister who lives in the shadow of the older sister. I imagine everywhere she goes that people talk about how wonderful Martha is, and how efficient Martha is… And I see Mary as she sits there, and her heart is just as filled with love and gratitude as is Martha’s. She sees Lazarus raised from the dead, restored to their family. She sees Jesus, and she is just crying out, I’ve got to do something. But what can I do? I’m sure many times she was intimidated by Martha’s efficiency, and how she envies Martha. I can imagine her thinking to herself, oh, I wish there was something I could do. Folks, I want to tell you: love has to do something. Service for the Lord is nothing more than the overflow of a heart filled with gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. She said, I have to do something. Suddenly, she remembers her alabaster box. No Bible scholar has come up with a good answer as to how she was able to acquire such an expensive possession—very unusual for a woman of her position to have an alabaster box of costly perfume. But there she has it. She says, there is something I can do. I doubt if she gave it very much thought. She runs to the hiding place. Maybe it was in a hope chest; maybe she was saving it for the day when she might perhaps marry. Or maybe she was saving it for older age, and in the last years of her life, it would afford her some kind of security. But it is all she had that was meaningful. It was her treasure. She takes it out, and she comes into that room. The house is filled with people, and she is committing a social grace, but it doesn’t occur to her that she doing so. She is oblivious to anybody else who is there. All she sees is her brother resurrected to life, and Jesus the man who raised him. She comes and falls before his feet and breaks that bottle of costly perfume and begins to anoint the head of Jesus. And Jesus said, I like what she has done, because she has done what she could.
You see, all that God demanded of her was simply what he in the first place had given her. The Lord demands nothing more from you than he himself has given you in the first place. You do what you can.
I know that in our contemporary Christianity we exalt and magnify people who have an abundance of ability and talent. I am convinced that a great majority of Christians sit Sunday after Sunday looking at the stars. You know, it was the star system that killed Hollywood. It will kill the church if we are not careful. The majority of believers sit out there and say, well, there is nothing I can do. If I could sing like that, or play the piano like that, or speak like that, but there is nothing I can do. The only thing that God expects from you is this: you do what you can. You say, but it’s not much. You let Jesus decide that.
God said to Moses after 40 years in the back side of the desert, completely stripped of all position and power and prestige, Moses, what is that in your hand? He said, Lord, it’s just a rod. It’s not worth anything.
David went out against Goliath. All he had was a slingshot and five smooth stones.
The widow whose husband had left her with a huge indebtedness, and the predators were about to drag away her sons to pay off the debt, came to Elisha the prophet and told him of her plight. He said, what do you have? There is a famine in the land, and we have to come up with something that we can turn into cash and pay off your debts. What do you have at home that we could sell. She said, thy handmaiden hath nothing in the house save a pot of oil. Just a pot of oil. As an afterthought, she mentions it, almost ashamed to mention it because it is so worthless. He says, I tell you what to do. Tell your boys to go to the neighbors and borrow some vessels. I like the way the King James version says it: and tell them to borrow not a few. That means borrow a whole bunch. And he said, you bring them. You know what happened. They began to fill those vessels, and they got enough oil to pay off the debt and live on for the rest of the famine. What have you got in your house? Nothing. Oh, there’s a little pot of oil.
Andrew comes to Jesus when the 5,000 are dropping from heat and exhaustion and starvation, and he said, here’s a lad with a little lunch his mother fixed him, but what is that among so many? Have you ever felt that way? You just do what you can.
When I was a little boy, around Christmastime my brother and I would always go to my Dad and ask him for some money so we could buy him a Christmas present. He would give us some money, $5 or $7 or $8. We would always go to Walgreen’s drugstore in Fort Smith. Every year we would buy him a pipe. I don’t know why we bought him a pipe. My Dad didn’t smoke a pipe. But we would buy him a pipe every year, wrap it up and put a card on it that said: to Dad, from Barry and Ron. It never occurred to us that it was sort of ridiculous, you know, saying it was from us because we bought it with his money. And on Christmas morning we would proudly present him with that gift. Dad, here’s the gift we bought you—with your money. We never mentioned that. It didn’t occur to me how ridiculous that was until my children started coming to me at Christmastime when they were real small needing some money to buy me a Christmas present. Do you know what we were doing on Christmas morning? We were simply giving back to our Dad what he had given us. My Dad was never disappointed. Why? Because he never expected more from us than he had given to us in the first place. For that matter, all Christian living and Christian service is simply my giving back to God what he has given me. You simply do what you can. Whatever God places in your hand, that’s all he demands of you. So I can say, Lord, demand what you will as long as your provide what you demand. God will never demand more than he provides, and he will always provide exactly what he demands. You do what you can. It may not seem like much to you.
Most of you know, I suppose, that the biggest part of my ministry has been the tape ministry. And it wasn’t even my idea. I can say tonight that practically every door of opportunity that God has opened, he has used that tape ministry to open it. All over the world. It is just amazing. It is the greater part of our ministry.
Well, the funny thing is that years ago, the first time I ever heard myself on tape, I nearly quit the ministry. I was awful! I was born in Oklahoma, raised in Arkansas, and live in Texas. You put those three twangs together, and you’ve got quite a twang. And I’ve always had a sort of nasal tone, and I have an extra long tongue. I forget what they call that, but I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue. It makes it hard to enunciate. It really does. When I would play the trumpet in high school and college, I never learned to triple tongue. I had too much tongue to negotiate that. I remember while I was pastor here, I practiced for months on learning to say phenomenon. I have a hard time enunciating—getting it all together. To this day, I refuse to listen to one of my tapes. It just discourages me so much. It’s awful.
I never did like my voice, and when I first came here as pastor, I tried to change it. To try to speak deeper. I became hoarse, and stayed hoarse for a couple months. I went to the doctor, and he said, you need to go to a speech therapist and learn how to talk. I went to the Callier Speech Clinic and the first thing they did was give me a test. They said, now, reverend, every person has a natural pitch. You have to speak in that natural pitch or you will ruin your vocal cords. She said your natural pitch is up here. It just decimated me.
I will never forget the first time I heard Adrian Rogers speak, in 1972 in Philadelphia. It is a sin for a man to have such a beautiful voice. It is unbelievable. I wanted to go out and cut my throat. But then I had a better idea: I’ll cut his throat. That’s what I’ll do.
Well, I was in Arizona a few years ago. A fellow in the service came up to me afterward, and he was from California. He was in the television and broadcasting business. He said, do you know that you have the ideal voice for cassette tapes. Your voice is pitched just right. If your voice was lower and deeper (what he meant was if you had a good voice), it would not carry nearly as well on those cassette tapes. He said, I can put on one of your tapes in the kitchen, and I can hear you all over the house. It just carries. He said, you have the perfect kind of voice for making those kind of tapes. You know, I finally had to go back to my room that night and thank the Lord for what he had given me.
I guess the Lord knew what he was doing. I guess he knew years and years ago that one of the things he wanted to do in my ministry was a tape ministry so he gave me the kind of voice I needed. You simply do what you can. You say, I can’t do that much. . . . You let Jesus decide that. All right? Everybody in that room thought what she had done was wrong, and wasn’t worth doing, but Jesus overruled them all. You do what you can….but.
2. Do that much.
Jesus said she had done what she could. The implication is that she had not only done what she could, but she has done all she could. You do what you can, but you make sure you do that much. You see, she broke the box. It is significant that the Bible says she broke it. Well, when she broke it, she had to pour it all out. She didn’t come out with a little measuring spoon and measure out a few drops, do it very rationally and logically. After all, we have to be practical. In the back of her mind, there could have been the thought that things might get bad, and I’m not always going to be young. I need something for security in the declining years of my life. She gave no thought to that. Love never does. It is extravagant. She broke it and poured it all out. There was not a drop left in the alabaster box.
I want to ask you a question tonight. Are there any drops left in your alabaster box? You say, well, I’ve prayed. Yes, but have you prevailed? Well, I’ve done something. But have you done all you know to do? You see, I am convinced that God does not judge me on the basis so much of what I have done, but on what I could have done—not so much on what I have accomplished, but what could I have accomplished. Not so much what I have become, but what I could have been if I had given God the opportunity and used the opportunities God gave me in my life. I must confess to you that I believe tonight as I stand here, the greatest sin of my life is that I have not done all I can. It is so easy to settle for just a little bit. As long as the people are satisfied, that’s enough. No, it’s not enough. Is Jesus satisfied? Is Jesus satisfied.
My seminary professor told me, the easiest place in all the world to be lazy is as a pastor (or church worker for that matter). He said, because you don’t punch a clock and nobody really tells you when to come and when to go and there is really no way they can evaluate if you are really working or not. You can take off half a day, and somebody says, where were you? You say, well, I was out on the field—and it may have been the golf field. You have to discipline yourself. He said, the easiest place in all the world to grow lazy is in a church position. I know that in the ministry, whether on the paid staff or teaching a Sunday School class, we settle for so little. You just be there on Sunday morning. It’s not important whether you’ve really prayed through that lesson, or whether you’ve really studied it, whether you walk into that class with a message from God. As long as the people are satisfied. No, that’s not enough. It is whether or not Jesus is satisfied. Make sure you do that much.
3. Do it now.
Jesus said, let her alone. She hath done what she could. Then he makes a very strange statement: she has come to anoint my body for the burial ahead of time. Isn’t that interesting. Jesus wasn’t dead, gave no evidence of being ill. That would be like if I were to come up to Chuck tonight and say, Chuck, have you got a few minutes after the service. I want to go out and buy you a casket. He would say, well, I’d rather have a suit.
He said, she has anointed my body beforehand for the burial. Why would he say that? One week later, Jesus was dead. If you had been lurking outside the sepulcher that first Easter morning, early in the morning through the mist you could have made out the figure of some women coming down the path. You come out and ask them. Where are you women going this early in the morning? They say, we are going to the tomb of Joseph. Our Lord is buried there. What is that you are carrying? Oh, well, these are spices and perfumes and ointments for burying. When our Lord died, the Roman soldiers guarded him, wouldn’t let anybody near him because there was a rumor that somebody was going to try to steal his body so his body was never anointed for burial. We are going this morning, hoping we can convince the soldiers to roll the stone away so we can do it because it doesn’t seem right for him to be buried without being anointed.
So they go on. Perhaps you drop in behind and follow them. After awhile, you find yourself standing in front of that tomb. No use asking the soldiers to roll the stone away because you can plainly see it has already been rolled away. You follow the women inside, and there is nobody there. Jesus is gone. But we brought spices to anoint him. Too late. You should have done it a week ago. To me, the interesting thing is if Mary had not anointed his body a week ahead of time, his body would never have been anointed for burying. Jesus knew that. Friends, whatever you do, you do it now. You say, next week. Next week may be too late.
And in a sense, isn’t that what we are doing—preparing people for dying. Isn’t that what we are really doing? I know we are preparing them for living too, but you aren’t really ready to live until you are ready to die. You say, well, I will prepare him for dying. I don’t want to bring up the subject. I’ll wait. It may be too late.
The thing that intrigues me is that Jesus said, she hath anointed my body for the burying. Notice that was Jesus’ interpretation of what she did. I think Mary was surprised at what Jesus says. I don’t Mary came out there consciously to anoint his body for the burying, do you? She didn’t know he was going to die in a week’s time. Jesus said, you let her alone. She hath anointed my body for the burying. That teaches me that sometimes when we just do what Jesus tells us to do, we don’t really have any idea what we are really doing. Mary had no idea the great significance of what she was going. To her, it seemed like a ridiculous, stupid, senseless act. Yet, far beyond that simple act of obedience was the true meaning. I’ll tell you, folks, a lot of things God asks us to do, we don’t have any idea what we are really doing Beyond that simple act of obedience lies a meaning and interpretation known only to God. I think someday when we stand in his presence, and he makes all things known, we are going to be highly surprised at the repercussions of some very little simple things we did.
I have a very good friend named Paul Tsika, I met Paul in 1973 while I was in Archer City preaching in a little Bible conference. I was preaching that night. Manley Beasley was there. It was Saturday night, and I was going to drive Manley back here, and he was starting a revival here the next day. Well, we were both preaching in Archer City. I was sitting in the car in the driveway of the pastor’s home, and it was pouring down rain. Bro. Manley was still in the pastor’s house, picking up a few things and talking. I was sitting in the car with the motor running, waiting for Manley. Suddenly, there was a knock on the window, and I opened the door. There was a fellow that I did not know, and had never seen—Paul Tsika ? He said, where is Bro. Manley? I said, he is in the pastor’s house. He said, would you give these to him? And he handed me a pair of shoes. Now, folks, they were not an extra pair of shoes. They were the shoes he was wearing. He said, would you see that Bro. Manley gets these shoes? I said, well, just lay them there in the back seat. I asked his name and he said it wasn’t important and left.. Manley got in the car later on and I told him what had happened. That I was sitting out here, and some nut comes up, takes off his shoes, and said God told him to give them to Manley. They were a brand new pair of patent leather shoes, size 8D. Manley said, I can’t wear an 8D. I told him they were his.
Later, when I got to know Paul, he told me about the story.. He was a fairly new Christian—a Brooklyner, a New Yorker.. He was an insurance salesman. God saved him and called him to preach. No formal education. Finished high school, and that was it. And so, he began trying to hear men he thought would help him. Oh, he admired Manley Beasley. He said I was sitting on the front row when Manley Beasley was preaching, and suddenly I had on a brand new pair of shoes. At that time, I had given up my job. We didn’t have any money at all, and my wife had just bought me a brand new pair of shoes. I was wearing them. God said, give those shoes to Manley Beasley. He said, I just sat there. I looked at his feet, and I knew that he couldn’t wear 8Ds. I said, Lord, he can’t wear them. Obviously, they are not his size. They are brand new. My wife bought these for me. These are a gift from my wife. God said, I want him to have those shoes. He said he just pushed it out of his mind because it seemed so ridiculous and unbelievable. I was getting in the van with this other friend. We were driving back together. But, as we drove by the pastor’s house, God said, give him those shoes. He said, I knew I had to do it. He said, stop the van. I got out, went over to the car and gave him the shoes. I got back in the van, and my friend said, where are your shoes? I said, don’t ask any questions. He said, I got home that night, and my wife said, where are your shoes? He said, honey, you’ll never believe this.
Several years later, Paul Tsika ? ran into Manley Beasley in one of the hotel lobbies over in Fort Worth during the evangelism conference. Manley said, I want you to have dinner with me—he had just met him. They sat down. Paul told him about himself and what he was trying to do—trying to learn the ministry, and learn how to trust God. Manley said, I’m wanting someone right now to travel with me, just to be with me all the time, sort of like an intern. Of course, Paul was wanting to say, I’m the one. I’ll do it. Manley said, I’m looking for a certain young man, and when I find him, God has told me he is the man who is to go with me and travel with me. Paul said, well, who are you looking for? He said, I don’t know his name, but two or three years ago I was in Archer City. Some fellow I didn’t know left me a pair of shoes, said God told him to give them to me. They were patent leather, 8Ds. I had no idea what to do with them. I couldn’t wear them. I couldn’t understand why in the world somebody would give me a pair of shoes. I started that revival meeting at MacArthur Boulevard, and Ron and Pat Owens were there in the meeting. One night I was preaching on faith, believing God, and Pat, Ron’s wife, came to the altar and began to pray. I talked with her. She said, Bro. Manley, I guess this sounds silly to you, but Ron just bought a new suit the other day, and it is a certain color, and he doesn’t have any shoes to go with it. For some reason, I think I ought to believe God that he is going to supply a pair of shoes. Would you like to hazard a guess as to what color he needed and what size shoes he wore? Those shoes were the right size and the right color. Manley told that story. Paul said, Bro. Manley, you are not going to believe this, but I am that fellow that gave those shoes.
You know, if Paul Sika ? had not taken that alabaster box and broken it that night because it seemed so foolish and ridiculous, two things would not have happened. Ron would not have had a pair of shoes. Three things, really. Pat wouldn’t have had the joy of believing God. And number 3, Paul would never have gotten to travel with Bro. Manley and learn from him. What I am saying to you is that what you and I do, we never really know the significance of it. You never really know. It reaches far beyond that.
The reason I had us to read from both accounts is that Mark said she anointed his head; John said she anointed his feet. Which is right? Well, either she anointed both his head and feet (which is probably what happened), or she anointed his head, and the oil ran down his body and got on his feet. Anyway, she anointed his feet. As she kneels before him, John says she does something. She sees that costly perfume as it dropped from his feet onto the floor. In her haste she wasn’t thinking clearly. She didn’t bring a towel. Suddenly she reaches over her shoulder and grasps that long black hair that was so customary among those women and pulls it over her shoulder and makes a towel out of her hair. She begins to wipe the perfume from the feet of Jesus with her hair. Something happens. The Scripture says that when she did that the house was filled with the fragrance. You see, when she wiped his feet with her hair, the fragrance that was on Jesus now was on her. What she had poured out on Jesus suddenly came back on her, and she smelled just like her Lord. What I want to say to you, friends, is that whatever you pour out on Jesus will always come back on you. You can tell when you are around someone who has poured their life out on Jesus. You know why? They have a certain fragrance about them. There is a certain perfume to their life. Whatever you pour out on Jesus will come back on you.
This past fall Kaye and I were in England at the Filey ? Christian Crusade—meets every year, about 6,000 people. I was preaching at night; Dr. Stephen Olford preaching in the mornings. Thursdays they give over to world missions day. They bring in a lot of missionaries to give testimonies so neither one of us preached. Kaye and I were sitting on the platform next to Dr. Olford and his wife. One of the men who came up to speak was a missionary neither one of us knew. He gave his testimony. He said, I have been serving the Lord as a missionary in Ethiopia for the past 25 years. He said, 27 years ago I attended the Keswick Convention in England, and I went as a young Christian. I knew I was saved, but I had never given any thought at all of what to do with my life. I was in business—hadn’t given any thought to serving the Lord. That Thursday night when they had the emphasis on missions, a man got up to preach and he preached such a powerfully anointed message on missions and committing your life, God spoke to my heart. For the first time, I realized that I’m not my own. I’ve been bought with a price. He said when the minister finished his sermon and gave the invitation, I left where I was and walked down that aisle, and that night 27 years ago I committed my life to serve God as a missionary. For the past 25 years I have been serving him in Ethiopia. I have never had an opportunity to thank that preacher for the sermon he preached that night 27 years ago. Tonight, I’m going to do so. He turned around and walked over to Dr. Olford and stuck out his hand and said, Dr. Olford, I want to thank you for the sermon you preached 27 years ago.
I want you to know, folks, the house was filled with the fragrance of that ointment. Whatever you pour out on Jesus is going to come back on you. Jesus simply says this: you do what you can, do that much, and do it now.
Would you bow your heads for a moment?
© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2006