In preparation for a recent sermon, I came across a list of the world’s most lavish individual purchases. At the top of the list was the acquisition of the History Supreme Yacht for 4.5 billion dollars. This is no ordinary boat! The History Supreme is made from solid gold and platinum. Its main stateroom displays a bed whose headboard contains genuine Tyrannosaurus Rex bones (Go figure – The “Night at the Museum” franchise just got a new movie script). While you are I are probably not ready to run out and purchase a four billion dollar ship – we should take time to carefully consider what is most valuable to us. This is particularly true in light of the trouble and turmoil of the last year – including the ongoing mess that we call an election. What we value most will be the driving force behind our lives, will determine whether we live in joyful contentment or anxious vexation, and will establish our spiritual legacy. The true measure of what we value is always revealed during times of great stress and difficulty.
So, what has greatest worth in your life? Your car, your home, your country, your reputation, your career, your hobbies, your health, your family, your spouse? All these have merit of one degree or another. But there is one person who is to be of ultimate value, our Lord Jesus. He is of infinitely greater worth than the vast fortunes of Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, He is of infinitely greater interest than the total accumulated wisdom of the ages, He is of infinitely greater beauty than all the natural wonders of the world.
There is, in the Scriptures, a lovely portrait of one who considered Jesus of greater profit than her most treasured possession and joyfully sacrificed that treasure to demonstrate the worthiness of her Messiah. In doing so, she testified that Jesus is the King, who in His atoning death was worthy of her lavish love and sacrificial worship. Her name, of course, is Mary.
We first encounter Mary in the book of Luke, as the sister of Martha and Lazarus, “who was seated at the Lord’s feet listening to His Word” (Luke 10:39). From the very start Mary is focused on “the good part” of devoting herself to the worship of Jesus. The most memorable picture of Mary is found in John 12 (and Matthew 26), the night before passion week in the home of Simon the Leper. As Jesus reclines to eat, Mary anoints him with an alabaster vial of precious perfume (perhaps her entire life savings), pouring it on his head and then wiping his feet with her hair. The entire room fills with the fragrance of the ointment (and her heartfelt act of sacrificial worship). The disciples are indignant (spurred on by the treacherous, greedy Judas) and label Mary’s display a “waste,” but Jesus rebukes them, stating that she has done a good deed to Him, prophetically anointing him for burial. Jesus then predicts that wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what Mary had done will be remembered.
Although Mary’s act is, in one sense, a unique, historical event, never to be replicated, Jesus prediction of remembrance provides us with the opportunity to apply Mary’s valuing of Jesus and the work He would accomplish on the cross (even through probably not fully understood by her in the moment) to our own situation.
First, let us see, through Mary, the greatness of Jesus. While the disciples were considering their own prominence and the religious leaders were plotting Christ’s death to protect their own power and prestige, Mary clearly saw that only Jesus is truly great. Although she may not have understood exactly what her act signified, Jesus stated that it was an anointing of him for burial. Thus she put an prior stamp of approval on what makes Him infinitely greater than anything this world has to offer – the atoning sacrifice for the permanent forgiveness of sin, deliverance from eternal hell, and intimate experience of the pleasures of God forever. We too should focus on increasing our appreciation of His majesty by rejecting our vain consideration of self regularly meditating on the price He paid for our redemption.
Next, let us be challenged by Mary to care, primarily, about the exaltation of Jesus. Judas and the twelve claimed that the money from the perfume would have been better used to provide for the poor, but Jesus credited Mary with an act which exalted as essential His own character and accomplishment. In front of a room full of beard wagging, self-righteous men, this gentle woman thought nothing of herself, and in her humility exalted her soon to be sacrificed Messiah. When we properly value Christ, we ignore our own exaltation, and even the lifting up of the human downtrodden becomes of secondary importance.
Finally, let us be prompted by Mary to the sacrificial worship of Jesus. Mary acted on her supreme valuation of Christ through a lavish act of selfless adoration. He fragrant sacrifice of reverence cut through the foul stench of greed and pride that marred the atmosphere of the tiny room. She was eager and willing to give up what was, almost certainly, her most valuable earthly possession. Our lives should be characterized by similar acts – offering our very bodies as living sacrifices, acceptable to God which is our spiritual service of worship (Rom 12:1).
And so, it all comes down to value. Not the value of some temporal trinket (like a four billion dollar yacht), but those things which are of eternal consequence. Mary esteemed Christ above all other things and will be remembered forever. What will you be remembered for?