One of the most profound expressions of worship by a common person in Scripture is found in John 12: 1–8. It took place in a home in Bethany where Jesus and His disciples had been invited to eat. Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead was there, as were his sisters, Mary and Martha.
We read that after the meal, Mary, who had been listening to Jesus talk, took a bottle of perfume that she had been saving, no doubt as a part of her dowry, and shocked everyone by kneeling at Jesus’ feet and pouring the contents of this very expensive perfume over His feet. She then did another shocking thing. She let down her hair and began wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair.
Judas became very incensed over what he called a terrible waste of money that could have been used for the poor, though he was thinking only of padding his own pockets. But Jesus knew exactly what was taking place and He said: “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (verses 7-8).
There are several lessons that we can learn from this beautiful act of worship on the part of one of God’s “common” people. We’ll look at the first three this week.
FIRST: WHAT MARY DID REVEALED WHAT WAS IN HER HEART
Worship is the expression of our heart’s devotion. Let me say it again. Worship is the expression of our heart’s devotion. Mary loved her Lord more than anything or anyone else. WORSHIP IS AN ATTITUDE BEFORE IT BECOMES AN ACT. An act of worship without an accompanying heart attitude of devotion to our Lord is unacceptable to Him.
SECOND: A TRUE HEART ATTITUDE OF WORSHIP WILL ALWAYS EXPRESS ITSELF OUTWARDLY
As Mary watched her Lord and listened to what he was saying during that meal, she was so overwhelmed with love for her Master that she began wondering what she could do to express this love for Him. In all likelihood He had been preparing them for what was going to happen to Him in a little more than a week, because He alluded to His burial in response to her sacrifice. While the others sat there, Mary slipped away. She had suddenly thought of what would be the most profound expression of her love, what would be the ultimate act of worship, what would be the greatest sacrifice in light of what He was going to do for her, and she poured it over the feet of her Lord. Her heart would let her do nothing less. She had to act on what was inside.
Whenever worship is mentioned in Scripture it is found in the context of action. WORSHIP IS A VERB. True worship in the heart will always find a corresponding outward expression. Love that is not expressed is not love. Love must be given away. Mary’s action was one of unrestrained love. She could not hold it in.
THIRD: MARY’S ACT WAS ONE OF DEEP AND HONEST HUMILITY
Mary was unashamed to let everyone know how much she loved her Master. She bowed before Him. She knelt at His feet and wiped them with her hair. It is interesting to note that whenever we find this Mary mentioned in the Bible she is always at the feet of Jesus. She was not embarrassed. She risked ridicule and criticism which she had on another occasion received from her sister, Martha, and now from one of Jesus’ disciples. But that didn’t matter to Mary. Her favorite place was at the feet of her Lord. Is this not a testimony and example for us all.