Why This Waste?
August 6, 2023
Why this Waste?
August 6, 2023
Jesus has spoken that the story of what Mary has done to prepare Him for His burial should accompany the gospel. My heart’s desire is to call you to more, and to inspire you to respond rightly to the Lord with your life.
This story can be found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12. Today we will be reading from Matthew 26.
I want to focus on 3 people(s) and how they all relate to Jesus at this moment: Judas, the disciples, Mary of Bethany. As we read this passage, I want you to ask yourself who you’d rank with; Judas, the disciples, or Mary?
Matthew 26:6-16 (NIV)
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Waste means different things to different people. In a negative sense, someone may waste their life on drugs and partying. They spend their entire life on what is not good. In the positive sense, someone may waste their life in service to God. That is to spend their entire life being faithful to the Lord.
The Alabaster Jar
When a young girl was ready to be married her family would buy a large alabaster box or jar. Alabaster is a soft stone. They would fill the box/jar with expensive oils, ointments, & perfumes. The heavier the box, the bigger the dowry would be when a man came along to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage. As an act of honoring his request, she would break the jar on his feet and pour oil on him. This was her “yes” to him.
The alabaster jar represents you. The perfume on the inside of it represents the essence or entirety of who you are. It’s the core of who you are. And the fragrance/aroma of this perfume is molded by your life choices. A life bent on walking in total obedience to the Lord is a sweet aroma to Him. The life that isn’t lived in obedience to the Lord is not pleasing to Him. The obedient life smells like Christ. Christ is the only pleasing fragrance to the Father. We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Judas – Believer by Association
Judas represents the believer in name only.
Matthew 26:20-25 (NIV)
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
Rabbi means teacher. To Judas, Jesus had never become His Lord. He was just a teacher.
Example: When I was in high school I had a band, and we needed to get some CDs duplicated. I don’t know how we came in contact with this man who would duplicate these CD’s for us, nor do I remember his name. I do remember that this man was Muslim. My friend James, who has always been zealous for the Lord, made up his mind that he was going to win this guy for Jesus. The man didn’t surrender his life to the Lord, but one thing that has always stuck out to me was the fact that this man acknowledged Jesus as a prophet and a great teacher.
I meet many people who know about Jesus. They acknowledge Him as God’s son. They can tell you that He died, rose from the dead 3 days later, and is now in heaven at the right hand of God. But these people, just like that Muslim man, haven’t made Him Lord!
Head knowledge doesn’t equal salvation!
To someone that is not all in, there are things that are poured out on the Lord that are deemed as waste.
Judas responded incorrectly. We see that he went on to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This was the price of a dead slave.
Exodus 21:32 (NIV)
If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels[a] of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.
Judas has not the revelation of Jesus Christ, therefore they don’t know His value.
If Judas represents the believer by association, why doesn’t he have the revelation of Jesus? Why is he not a pleasing aroma to God? Because of his choices. His choices have not been to fully obey the Lord.
The Disciples- True Christians
It is the disciples’ response that we want to really pay attention to. The other 11 disciples actually called Jesus their Lord. These disciples really loved Jesus. But if the original disciples failed to see His worth, we should be careful so that we too don’t miss it.
Matthew 26:8 (NIV)
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.
Indignant means angry.
Synonyms for indignant: annoyed, furious, heated, incensed, irate, livid, mad, resentful, scornful, boiling, bent out of shape, displeased, fuming, p.o.’d, wrathful, seeing red
Waste- cut off from what could have or should have been; loss of well- being rather than being. To give too much of something.
I am referring to waste simply as giving your all. Pouring yourself out on the Lord.
The disciples thought that the perfume was not being used for its intended purpose.
I remind my boys that when you don’t understand the purpose of a thing, you’ll misuse it.
We must ask ourselves,
1.What is the purpose of Christ in my life? 2. Does Christ add value to my life?
When we can say that we understand the purpose of Christ to us personally, there will be value that is associated with that understanding. And now that I value Christ, my life will respond in a way that says that I value Christ.
The disciples thought that pouring oil on Jesus was not the best use. This is still a prevailing attitude among many Christians today. No one would ever audibly confess that Jesus isn’t worth it all, but we do confess this in our actions. We pick and choose what we will give to the Lord, when we’ll give to the Lord, and how we’ll give to the Lord.
Selective Sacrifice vs. Lifestyle of Sacrifice
Selective sacrifice is when YOU pick and choose what you’ll do or not do for the Lord. You may choose to lift your hands and worship, or you may not choose to. You may choose to serve in church, or you may not choose to; you may choose to share your faith, or you may not choose to. You may choose to serve your wife and wash dishes, or you may not.
Selective sacrifice involves your choices being based on you and how you feel?
The lifestyle of sacrifice constantly examines and acknowledges the worth of Jesus and lives in response to His worth. This type of living makes you look at the life of Jesus; which is the way of lowliness, humility, servanthood, and selflessness; and prompts you to give your best in that moment to the Lord and to others.
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
The person involved in selective sacrifice has merely human concerns. Human concerns are thoughts of self.
The person living a lifestyle of sacrifice has in mind the concerns of God.
Example: Talking to Levi and Ryder about The Rich Young Ruler
We don’t like to hear the word “sacrifice”. Because that means that we have to go without. We have to take the low road.
Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV)
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
We want to get as much as we can from God, but give as little to Him as possible. Disciples of Jesus love Him and we want to be used by Him. We are willing to be used, but we aren’t willing to be wasted.
God is only satisfied when we’ve wasted all on Him. Notice I said “on Him” and not “for Him”. Being “with God” is not the same thing as doing “for God”. Ministering “to Him” isn’t the same thing as ministering “for Him”.
The disciples thought we could do a lot for the kingdom of God if we would take the proceeds from selling the perfume. But Jesus brings back the focus to Himself.
Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
We will only effectively minister “for God” when we succeed at ministering “to God”.
“That my usefulness should be brought to the full is not what the Lord is after, but His concern is rather with my position at His feet and my anointing of His head. What I have as an alabaster box, the most precious thing, my whole life, I give it all up to the Lord. It seems as if it is a waste, but that is what He is after.” (Watchman Nee)
Mary of Bethany- the heart posture we all should desire to have
This isn’t the first time we hear of Mary of Bethany. In Luke 10:38-42, we see her sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His words, while her sister Martha, was very busy and distracted by making preparations. In her frustration she asks the Lord to make Mary get up and help her. The Lord said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
We see Mary in John 11 as she chooses to fall at the feet of Jesus in the midst of heartbreak and inner turmoil as her brother Lazarus had died. In fact, John 12 is also the account of Mary pouring perfume on Jesus.
I also like Mark’s account of Jesus being anointed at Bethany
Mark 14:3-9 (NIV)
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
This account said that she broke the jar. You can’t store anything in a broken container. She broke it to prevent herself from not pouring it all out on Jesus. In worship and in service to the Lord, we must be broken.
What Mary did for Jesus was not done half-heartedly or on a whim. She had spent time in close proximity to Jesus to hear His words. She had made the choice to fall at His feet in the midst of pain. What she brought Him in that alabaster box was based on His worth.
Again, His worth is based on Jesus’ purpose in her life.
In my own life I’ve walked through devastation and disappointment.
Example- Greyson 2013
In that season I learned what He means when He says that He’s a very present help and that He’ll never leave me. When Jesus tells Peter that He prayed for Him because Satan desired to sift Him like wheat; I can relate. This causes me to daily take a value assessment of His worth by looking at my life. The conclusion every day is that He’s worth it. He’s worth me persevering in hardship, He’s worth stepping out of my comfort zone to share my faith, He’s worth my singing, dancing, and lifting my hands to, and He’s worth me daily coming to Him, just sitting in His presence, reading His Word, and talking to Him.
Mark 14:8 “…she did what she could.”
My fear is that we aren’t doing what we can. My hope is that we would satisfy Him, minister to Him, and waste every part of our lives on Him.
“What you give to Him and how much you give to Him and what you hold back are all measurements of the conditions of your love for Him.” (Eric Gilmour)
What are the measurements of the conditions of your love for Him? Is there anything that you wouldn’t do for Him? Is there anything that you wouldn’t give to Him?
Ask Him to help you get to the place of complete surrender so that you can pour everything out on Him.
Mark 14:9 (NIV)
9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
This is what the gospel should produce in every life: the desire to waste our lives on the Lord.
This means releasing the good and the bad. Releasing bitterness, hurt, anger, jealousy, secret sins, judgments, etc. These things hinder us from seeing Him clearly. These things compromise our judgments and aid in us not rightly assessing the worth of Jesus.
Judas’ assessment of Jesus’ worth moved him to betrayal. The Disciple’s assessment of Jesus’ worth moved them to indignation and revealed their desire to reallocate resources, Mary’s assessment of Jesus’ worth moved her to pour the most costly thing she owned on Him.
Wasting our lives on the Lord may be:
- In the way you love your spouse
- How you love your enemies
- How you serve your family
- How you show up to church
- How you eagerly demonstrate Mark 12:28-31
- Ask yourself, “Is wasting on the Lord a misuse of time and resources to you?”
- Does every area of your life reflect the worth of Christ?
- Are you willing to be intentional about wasting on the Lord Jesus?