The Anointing of Jesus Sermon, John 12:1-8, April 7, 2019.
“The Anointing of Jesus,” John 12:1-8
Fellow Congregational Pastor, Jim Harper III, recently shared this devotion from the Iona community in Scotland. “It was on the Wednesday that they called him a waster. The place smelled like the perfume department of a mall. It was as if somebody had bumped their elbow against a bottle and sent it crashing to the floor, setting off the most expensive stink bomb on earth. But it happened in a house, not a shop. And the woman who broke the bottle was no casual afternoon shopper. She was the penniless poorest of the poor, giving away the only precious thing she had. And he sat still while she poured the liquid all over his head... as unnecessary as aftershave on a full crop of hair and a bearded chin. And those who smelled it, and those who saw it, and those who remembered that he was against extravagance, called him a waster. They forgot that he was also the poorest of the poor. And they who had much and who had given him nothing, objected to a pauper giving him everything. Jealousy was in the air when a poor woman's generosity became an embarrassment to their tight-fistedness... That was on the Wednesday, when they called him a waster.”
CIS: Jesus is worth everything. Nothing spent on Jesus is a waste.
The true Church is on display in this passage of Scripture. Everything that it means to be the Church is present in some form or another in this passage.
1. Christ as the central figure, “They made Him a supper.” Lazarus was conspicuous. Imagine, in just the previous chapter and only very recent chronologically, Lazarus was dead. Think about that for a minute. I’ve eaten with some conspicuous characters. My Alabama in-laws for example… but I ain’t never had dinner with somebody who was dead – for FOUR days – last week! But you see, even with Lazarus, a dead man resurrected, Christ was the center of attraction. And why was that? Because as amazing as that must have been, the one who raised Him from the dead was at the table too!
Lazarus had been resurrected, but in John 11:25-26, Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” In the true Church Christ is in the “midst,” and in all things has the preeminence. Why? Because nothing about this account is a metaphor.
Christ is at the table today in Holy Communion. His worth is immeasurable.
2. A variety of guests. Lazarus silent, Martha busy, Mary tender, Simon healed and grateful. Are you shy, lonely, alone in this world? Are you busy, anxious, and always moving? Are you tender hearted and crushed by this cruel world? Have you known the healing power of Christ and walked with Him a long time? The true Church embraces all shades of character.
3. The presence of an incongruous character. Judas partaking of the feast, but unsympathetic. He shows three base things: (1) A false estimate of property. Money is not wasted on Christ, but on houses, apparel, fare, etc.
(2) A hypocritical philanthropy—Judas cared little for the poor, as his history shows. He just wanted to help himself to the money and not see it “wasted” on Jesus. (3) A heartless intrusion. No man has a right to “trouble” another on account of his religious services. Iscariotism is very prevalent.
I heard a Pastor from Detroit on the radio say it this way, “You ain’t got to be somebody’s Holy Ghost.” This is central to The Congregational Way. Congregational Christians have typically affirmed the spiritual equality and priesthood of all believers. In practice, this means they hold to the Bible and belief in Jesus, but individual members have full liberty of conscience in interpreting and applying the Good News of Jesus… (Right / Responsibility)
4. The display of genuine devotion. Mary’s act was: (1) Generous—the ointment was costly. Live with open hands. (2) Spontaneous. It was unsought. Learn to be sensitive to promptings and leading of the Holy Spirit and you’ll learn to live in the Sacrament of the Present Moment.
(3) Open. It was done in the presence of all. (4) Right: In principle. She wrought a good work. (b) In extent. She did what she could. (c) In reason—it pointed to the day of Christ’s burying…
Even as we do today in Holy Communion. Only unlike Mary, we know in that He who would die for sin, was indeed raised unperishable, eternal, in power and fullness. On the other side of the Resurrection we don’t hope that He is in fact the resurrection and the life as He told them. We have our hope in the fact of the Resurrection and in Him we have eternal life! Amen.