- Sermon Notes
He’s Worthy of Your Best
As we open up to Matthew 26:1-13, we see a woman who understood that Jesus was worth the very best she could bring, and as she offered to Him the best she could bring because she knew He was worthy, others looked on and called her offering a waste. While she applied great worth to Jesus, as worth of her very best, the rest had something different say. This is a powerful picture for me and for you. The realities of our day, the great value and worth that we apply to Jesus may cause others to object, or suggest that we should approach this life differently, but as this woman pours out her best on Jesus’ head and feet He says that her devotion and the bringing of her best to Him, is a good deed.
Let’s open to Matthew 26:1-13, and gain insights and encouragement as we apply this story to our lives currently.
Read: Matthew 26:1-13
In verse one and two Jesus tells His disciples that the Passover is coming in two short days and that He would be handed over to crucifixion. He is aware of what is going to come in a very short time, the focus of His final days. Jesus had already told His disciples three times previously (Mt. 16:21-28; 17:22-23; 20:17-19) that He would suffer to the death but would rise again on the third day.
Here Jesus makes clear that the death, burial, and resurrection He had previously told them about, was going to soon come about. That Jesus was coming soon and time of year it was going to take place, during the Passover, is deeply significant considering Jewish history. The “Passover,” which is what many were in town to celebrate at that particular time, was the commemoration of the night the Israelites were freed from Egypt (Exodus 12). It is the night that God “passed over” the homes which were marked by the blood of a lamb. Those whose doorpost were marked with the blood of the lamb were passed over, and those without the blood of a lamb would suffer the loss of their firstborn sons.
During this Passover, Jesus, our “Passover Lamb” would lay down His life and death would pass over the sons and daughters who would receive Him and apply His blood over their lives. It is deeply significant not only in Jewish history, but in our lives currently that Jesus would lay down His life. God send His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). God gave His only Son, He gave His very best, and because of His life and sacrifice, we are deeply and eternally blessed. In light of that reality, He is worthy of your best.
I. Pursue the Proper Posture
What we can see immediately in the beginning of Matthew 26 is a disparity in what the people were willing to understand and see when it came to Jesus Christ, and ultimately there is only one posture of the many depicted that Jesus calls proper, or right.
We start with the posture of the chief priests and elders who were gathered in the court of Caiaphas, the high priest.
Matthew 26:4-5, …They plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”
As noted, the high priest was a man named Caiaphas. The high priest was the supreme religious leader.
Originally, the high priest was a position passed from father to son through the priestly, or Levitical line.
Caiaphas had married into the family of high priest and was the son in law of a man named Annas. His appointment into power was illegal according to the Law, many Jews struggled with his leadership and still looked to Annas. Annas however, was the one who had appointed Caiaphas.
Caiaphas, according to Jewish historian Josephus was a conniving, treacherous, and deceitful man. He is depicted in Scripture in a one-dimensional role as Jesus’ antagonist.
This is made abundantly clear in his declaration to the chief priests and Pharisees…
John 11:50, It is in your best interest that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish instead.
The willingness of Annas to appoint Caiaphas as high priest, was likely because Annas had four sons, but those sons were the ones making all the money from the temple concessions.
To make one of them the high priest would have disrupted their thriving businesses.
Speaking of disruption to business, we must remember that just a couple day’s prior, Jesus had come into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, the people were praising Him as their Messiah and thinking He would go and overthrow the Roman government, but the place He went was the temple instead, where He overturned the tables of the moneychangers.
There were major problems in the temple, and the problem Jesus pointedly pursued was that they had turned it into a den of robbers.
Illus. What was taking place.
Jesus saw it all and called it out. He was more concerned about what was happening in His house, than overthrowing the Roman government.
All this said, the family of the high priest was not happy with Jesus, He was upsetting their scheme to make money. There will be more on this later in Matthew 26.
Gathered in the court of the high priest we see the chief priests and elders as well.
John 11:53, From that day on they planned together to kill Him.
We have seen this throughout the book of Matthew, a plan was being put in place, a plot to kill Jesus (Mt. 12:14).
Their posture toward Christ was to end His life. They had seen enough, had enough, and now the time was almost up.
Matthew 26:4-5, They plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”
They knew what they wanted to do, but they did not want to do it yet. They were worried about the people who had followed Him into town praising Him. They were concerned a riot might break out. So, with the city full of people, they were planning to wait.
Just Jesus said the time was two days. It would take place during the Passover.
He had already predicted three times what was to come, He said where it would be (Jerusalem, Mt. 16:21), that He would rise on the third day.
No plans of man could cause His plan to be vary or be voided.
Proverbs 19:21, Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail.
John 10:17-18, I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.
It was the Lord’s timing and had been determined, His death at Passover would point us to the powerful reality that He is our Passover Lamb to who takes away the sins of all in the world who would receive Him.
1 Corinthians 5:7, Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Revelation 5:12, Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!
Though the reality is that He is our Passover Lamb indeed, the religious leaders simply could not see. And their pursuit to kill Him, reveals their posture of hostility toward Him.
On the other hand, there were those who heard His words, what He had to say, that He had come to show and be the way to eternal life, and they were determined not to take His life, but to give Him their all, their very lives.
In verse 6, the scene changes, from the hate and hostility of the chief priests to a woman named Mary whose posture of worship, devotion, and love is seen as she finds herself again at Jesus feet.
Matthew 26:6-7, Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.
Matthew places this scene right after the plot of the chief priest, and prior to Judas’ betrayal. And is displays to us clearly that there were sweeping differences in Jesus’ day regarding the posture different people had toward Him.
While Matthew does not mention the woman by name, we know who it is from John’s account.
John 12:3, Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Be Determined in Your Devotion
The scene changes from the plot to kill Jesus in the court of the high priest, to a situation that took place in the home of a man who is referred to as “Simon the Leper.”
Since a lepers were considered unclean and were required to live outside the camp in leper colonies or camps and could not associate with non-lepers (Leviticus 13), it seems that Simon had been cleansed of his leprosy.
Almost assuredly, it seems that Simon the Leper was one of the many healed during Jesus’ ministry and he lived in Bethany. It was likely an expression of his deep appreciation for that deliverance he welcomed Jesus, and the others to his home for a meal.
Those at this meal were Mary, her brother Lazaraus (Whom Jesus had raised from the dead), her sister Martha who was serving the meal, Simon the Leper, and Jesus’ disciples (John 12:1-4).
As they reclined at the table, Mary takes a pound of costly perfume and pours it out on Jesus’ head and feet.
Mark 14:3, She broke the vial and poured it over His head.
That Mary brought and broke this alabaster vial of costly perfume showed that this perfume of great value to her she was devoting completely to Jesus.
The value of this vial is later voiced by Jesus’ disciples at 300 denarii. And with one denarius being the rate of pay for a day of work for the common worker, this vial of perfume is valued around a year’s wages.
Mary understood the value of the vial. And though some were determined to put Jesus to death and His denial, Mary was determined in her devotion.
As He is reclining at the table, she takes the vial and breaks it, making her act of worship, devotion, and love toward Christ even more costly.
It was an act of unmeasured love, devotion and worship of Jesus. She had held onto this vial of great value and was now pouring it out for Jesus.
She knew the value, but knew Jesus was worthy of the best she could offer Him in her life.
Philippians 3:7-8, But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Paul speaks to that reality that there are things that can be looked at as gain in this life, but he counted them loss in view of the value of knowing Christ.
Mary counted this perfume loss, in other words, its value did not matter in view of what she was able to do for Jesus in the moment.
She poured out her heart and soul, losing all sense of restraint or economy. Likely, it was her most expensive earthly possession, poured out in adoration.
Why would she do this? Because she knew He was worthy of her best.
Jesus had told His disciples many times what He repeated in verse two, that He was going to be delivered over to be crucified.
He had been preparing His disciples for such a time as this. But not wanting to hear Him say these words, it seems they were continually unable and unwilling to truly see the reality.
But Mary seems to have understood the reality of what is coming, and way in which she understood was from the description of where we constantly see her in relationship to Jesus…At His feet.
Illus. Mary’s motivation…
Mary was consistently found at the feet of Jesus.
Since she was at His feet, she had insight into the situation.
And because the prominent posture in her life was at the feet of Christ, there are things she might say and do that other did see the same way.
Things she thought were right, that may have looked wasteful, lavish, or reckless in this life.
But her continual posture at Jesus’ feet displayed the focus of her life. And no matter what another, or others might say, she centered her life around what Jesus said was good, best, and right.
Center Your Life Around What Jesus Says is Right
There was much that many had to say about Mary’s ways that was much different than that which Jesus had to say about the things she had done in her life.
Luke 10:39-42, Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus said the place Mary was sitting, at Jesus feet, for her was the better place to be.
Here in Matthew 26, the disciples see Mary pour out the expensive perfume and have something to say.
Matthew 26:8, the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
The disciples are identified in Matthew 26, but in John 12, the words are appropriated to Judas Iscariot specifically.
John 12:4-5, Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?”
Mary knew she was applying the expensive perfume to the One who was worthy, others called it waste.
She knew He was worthy of the best she could bring, but others interpreted things differently.
Judas questioned Mary asking why it was not sold and given to the poor. That would have certainly been a good deed, however, even if it was sold for many it would not likely have gone to much good.
John 12:6, Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.
Judas wanted the money so that he could embezzle the money out of the money bag and have it for himself.
His motivation was himself. Judas asked, “why this waste?” Judas motives were devoted to himself and his devious desires. Later in John 17, Jesus would call him the “son of perdition,” literally “the son of waste.”
The disciples, particularly Judas, pointed out what he didn’t like…Jesus would say what Mary had done was a good deed, it was right in His sight.
John 12:7-8, Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
Judas calls it a waste; Jesus calls it wonderful. Judas calls it wrong; Jesus calls it right. And such is the reality in our lives. There is much that many have to say is right in the life, but Mary had it right because she was continually at Jesus’ feet and therefore her life was centered on what Jesus had to say and what He said was right.
In His statement, “you will always have the poor with you,” was not a declaration that we should not give to the poor.
In fact, He had just taught the parable of the sheep and goats, which graphically spoke to the importance of giving to the poor (Mt. 25:34-46). This is throughout Scripture.
The principle He is applying here was not to take anything away from giving to the poor, but rather the reality that the adoration, devotion, worship, and love poured out in Mary’s act was right, and good.
Quote: Is anything wasted which is all for Jesus? It might rather seem as if all would be wasted which was not given to him. – Charles Spurgeon.
Matthew 26:12-13, For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.” Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”