How Far Will You Go? (Mark 14:3-6)

Mark 14:3-6 – And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

This account of the woman anointing Jesus with the costly perfume is a beautiful reminder of what wholehearted devotion to Christ looks like. As has been taught in many places, women of those days would often keep an expensive jar of ointment or perfume as a sort of retirement plan. If something should happen to the woman whereby her means of support were cut off, she would sell her jar of perfume and have enough money not to be completely impoverished. But this woman took her entire retirement plan, and she poured it out over Jesus in a gesture of love.

What actually strikes me this morning is the response of the disciples to the woman’s action. They were all for devotion to Christ, but not the kind of devotion to Jesus that would make people take “wasteful” actions in their minds. The complainers, perhaps not all the disciples, were not in favor of commitment to Jesus or displays of love for Jesus that went to a certain level of cost.

Where are you in your devotion to Jesus? Are you ready to pour out your life savings just to make him smell good? Are you willing to speak of his glory, even when people around you may not willingly receive your words? Are you willing to risk your life to take the gospel to a people who do not know it and do not want it? Are you willing to turn down a social engagement because you already have scheduled time with your Savior? Are you willing to give up a potentially lucrative career in order to serve in the ministry?

I do not know what it is that God is calling you to do personally in order to show your love and devotion to your Savior. I do know that, whatever it is, it is in line with his revealed truth in his word and never contrary to that. But what I want you to think about is the idea of just how that calling of God on your life is something that you do, even if it does not make sense to the world around you. This does not mean that you ignore wise spiritual leaders who are speaking truth into your life, but it does mean that not everybody in your life may be able to or willing to understand why you do what you do.

Here are some potential examples:

• A college girls’ friends do not understand why she will not date a young man who is very nice, even though he is not a committed Christian like she is.

• A man’s supposedly Christian friends are embarrassed by his constant witnessing—sharing the gospel with people everywhere he goes.

• A Christian couple’s parents do not understand why they would consider going overseas to share the gospel when they have a perfectly good opportunity back in their home country.

• A Christian girl’s friends do not understand why she has to make everything so “spiritual” all the time.

• A Christian man’s friends do not understand why he will not listen to a particular band, watch a particular film, or join them at the local bar.

• A minister’s congregation does not understand why he gets so hung up on making sure that everything they do lines up perfectly with scripture.

• A worship team does not understand why the worship leader is rejecting a perfectly fun song just because one line isn’t biblical.

• A Christian girl’s friends do not understand why she worries so much about choosing clothing that is not too tight or too revealing.

• A Christian couple is ridiculed by the world for modeling headship and submission in their home.

The fact is, there are a thousand different examples of ways in which the Christian life and Christian devotion can bring the Christian ridicule. Sometimes that ridicule comes from others in the church who are unwilling to go “too far” with their faith. Other times that ridicule comes from a lost world that is blinded to the gospel. But, as we see from the woman, Christ is pleased with those who pour out their best for him, even when those around her do not understand.

Now, as I said before, whatever action that you feel you should take in order to express your love to Christ MUST be in line with God’s revealed will in his word. God is not revealing to us new things to do that are substantively different from or contrary to his word. We must always make the scriptures our standard for what God wants us to do, and we must never work in opposition to the Bible.

Dear Lord, I deeply desire to serve you faithfully. I want to pour out my life for your glory in much the same way that the woman poured out the ointment on your body before your death. I will submit myself to your revealed will in your word. I pray that you will protect me from the temptation to be led astray by my flesh or my own vain imaginings. Let me do what honors you in the way that you have shown to be your will in your word. I also pray that you will help me to be fully willing to honor you with my life, even when the world around me will not understand. I am yours, and my desire is to please you. I desire your approval, not the approval of man.