Dennis Miller | John 12:1-8
Red is not a color you want to see when talking about money. Whether it’s highlighting urgency on past-due bills or marking overspent funds on loosely-held budgets, RED means you’ve spent more than you have.
I confess it’s taken many years of life to truly understand that earthy treasures don’t completely satisfy. What Bill Hybels years ago called “the never-ending quest for “IT” – Capital “I” – Capital “T”
My earliest recollection of the never-ending quest for “IT” goes back to when I was 13 years old. My best friend at the time who lived down the street purchased a brand new 1982 Honda Express. I can remember thinking, “I would never want anything else in my life again! If I could get this hotrod, I would be the possessor of ceaseless joy!
So, I got a job as a paperboy delivering the Zanesville Times Recorder newspaper and I saved my earnings. Finally, the day came, and my father drove me over to Columbus and I bought this brand-new motorcycle. I was SO excited! And I remember buzzing around the neighborhood feeling like Peter Fonda in Easy Rider. But after a few months passed, the buzz wore off.
When I was in High school, I remember thinking, “If I could make the Varsity Basketball team that would bring me ceaseless joy!” Believe it or not, I made the varsity basketball team.
Halfway through the season, it was fun, but the buzz wore off.
THEN I found out what “IT” was…
IT was being able to date a new girl who moved into our school. Man, she was something! Dark hair. Beautiful eyes. Great smile. I spent two months passing her in the hallway and thinking to myself if I could just date her. And I don’t know, good fortune, sympathy, but I got to date her for the rest of my senior year. And I don’t want to say anything bad about her, but I found out that she wasn’t IT. Nice gal. Nice family. But the buzz wore off.
Possessing that little motorcycle wasn’t wrong in itself. Playing on that basketball team wasn’t wrong. Having a girlfriend in high school wasn’t bad…
But to overcome the incredible pull of the culture to find happiness in things alone, I had to reprioritize what was important in my life.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” – John 12:1-8
It was the last week of Jesus’ life. Six days before the Passover. They were in Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus, who Jesus just raised from the dead. They were in the house of Simon the Leper, the place in packed with Jesus’ disciples and friends, people whose lives had been touched by this extraordinary man from Galilee. Martha was there serving.
During the first century, women would never have been reclining at the table with men. They would have been in the kitchen preparing the meal or when they were with the men they would have been serving. Certainly, they would never let their hair down in public.
Mary disregarded all tradition, she broke all the cultural rules and she extravagantly poured out her feelings of adoration right there before everybody. She took an alabaster vast. A very expensive vase full of pure nard, which was made from dried leaves. This was a very expensive perfume.
It is said that Mary’s vast contained 30 ounces of the world’s most expensive perfume. We learn in this text it was over a year’s worth of wages it took to buy that perfume. And without hesitation, she broke her vase and poured her entire contents and began to wipe his feet with her hair.
What extravagant love!
“The delicious fragrance ran down over Jesus’ shiny hair and thick beard. It enfolded his body with its delightful aroma. And it would go with him through the ensuing hours through the Garden of Gethsemane, and Pilate’s court, and to the foot of the cross. This special rite of perfuming the body was reserved for the burial of only royalty. And this was a significant moment of full, extravagant devotion.” -Phillip Keller
Mary was saying, “Jesus, I love you with all my heart. I will go with you, all the way to the grave if need be. You have my life! You have my heart!”
Love is a powerful force, isn’t it? It will make you do some crazy things.
For those here who are married, can you remember when you first fell in love with your mate? I remember not long after Rachel and I starting dating, we attended an outdoor Christian music festival called Ichthus in Wilmore, Kentucky. During an evening concert Rachel was standing beside me. I was so infatuated with this girl.
We were at this concert, and I looked over at her hand, and it was kind of sticking out, kind of secretly begging me to hold it! My heart was pounding like it was ready to explode out of my chest. And I wanted to hold her hand so bad.
And I went into this countdown thing in my mind. Something like 10, 9, 8, (I probably did that about 20 times till I got up the courage to reach over) But when I did, Ohhhh! And we interlocked our fingers and rubbed thumbs together. Ohhh man! I was in love.
But I know as well as you do that the longer you are together with someone, there is a tendency for that passion to die down. And we get so routine. Sometimes when I hold her hand today all I get is a sweaty palm!
The longer we walk with Christ, for some people, the passion begins to fade. And we find ourselves looking for love in all the wrong places. Being pulled by the temptations of the culture. Settling for a cheap imitation of love.
Advertising doesn’t sell products. Advertising sells love. Advertising sells relationship.
We trade our passionate relationship with the living God of the universe for something that simply leaves us empty and unfulfilled.
Do you need to rekindle that flame?
When was the last time you broke open yourself and said, “God, here I am!” “God, I love you. God, I want to walk with you.”
God really doesn’t need your money, He wants you.
He wants you to acknowledge he is first in your life. He wants you to break a vase.
“Christians file into church. One by one they march in like separate alabaster vases. Contained, self-sufficient, incased, contents undisclosed. And their vases aren’t bad looking either. They in fact become aware of each other’s vase. So before and after church they are apt to talk: Vase talk. But Mary broke her vase. Broke it? How shocking! How controversial! Was everybody doing it. Is that sort of thing allowed? Was it an official vase breaking party? No. She did it all by herself. The need for Christians everywhere, no one is exempt, is to be broken. The vase has to be smashed. Christians have to let the life out. And it will fill the room with sweetness. And all the broken pieces . . . Of course, it is easier to keep up that alabaster front. It was costly for Mary too.” -Annie Ortland
For some of you, breaking a vase is long overdue. Some of you listening to my voice have been chasing the ultimate “IT” all of your life. But you also have realized that ultimate happiness has not been found in earthly things. You still haven’t found what you are looking for!
Today, Christ invites you to give yourselves completely as a living broken vase in front of God and others. Today could be the day you will break a vase and say, “God here I am!”
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Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church