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Alabaster Jar

Road To The cross  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Martha - Too Busy To Worship

The first character that John speaks about other than Lazarus at this dinner party is Martha. We find Martha in a familiar position, serving in the kitchen.
Luke 10:
Luke 10:38–42 ESV
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Much like on this night that Jesus visited the trio of siblings, we find Martha busy in the kitchen. This was Martha’s way. She was a servant. Now I don’t want to be too hard on Martha. Serving, and service is important and its apparent that Martha had a servant’s heart. She showed her love in serving others and in both stories we find Martha busy.
William Barclay agrees;
“(Martha) loved Jesus; she was a practical woman; and the only way in which she could show her love was by the work of her hands. Martha always gave what she could. Many great men and women have been what they were only because of someone’s loving care for their creature comforts in the home. It is just as possible to serve Jesus in the kitchen as on the public platform or in a career lived in the public gaze.” (1)
She loved Jesus; she was a practical woman; and the only way in which she could show her love was by the work of her hands. Martha always gave what she could. Many great men and women have been what they were only because of someone’s loving care for their creature comforts in the home. It is just as possible to serve Jesus in the kitchen as on the public platform or in a career lived in the public gaze.
Do I believe that Martha was a faithful believer? Yes! I think she loved Jesus and believed in him, we see this in her proclamation of Jesus’ divinity in the story of Lazarus from last week, but I do say this, for some of us, if we’re not careful, we can allow pragmatic concerns to keep us from truly worshipping and being devoted to Jesus.
Martha was pragmatic. The food had to be cooked and it had to be served and someone had to do it and that someone was her, but because she couldn’t just sit at Jesus’ feet she missed so many blessings.
We too often allow life to make us too busy. Too busy to go to church, to busy to read our Bible, too busy to worship.
“Sunday is the only day that I have off to do stuff around the house! I can’t go to church!”
“Sunday is the only day I can spend with my family!”
We all have excuses. Now I understand that there are times and jobs that may keep us out on a Sunday, but when our regular practice is to do something else more and worship less, then we need to reprioritize. Three times Martha is seen in scripture with Jesus, and twice she it too busy to worship him.

Judas - Too Selfish To Worship

The third character who is introduced into this worship service is Judas Iscariot. Judas, like Martha is present at this feast, but unlike Martha he is not too busy to participate in this time of worship. He is there, reclining at the table with Jesus. Apparently he and the other twelve were honored guests with their rabbi, taking in the hospitality of Simon, who was hosting this feast.
Jesus trusts Him.
Judas
1. William Barclay, The Gospel of John, vol. 2, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY: Edinburgh, 2001), 127.
But when this meal became a worship service instead of worshipping he complained.
“Why did you waste this perfume? We could have spent the money on charity” he said.
The perfume in question is nard. Nard, or spikenard, is a very rare perfume made from the roots and spikes of the nard bush. It is a very pungent and powerful aroma that would have filled the room. The cost of such a gift according to the financially astute Judas was about 300 denarii, or about one years wages for a common laborer. Since today, a common laborer can make about $72.50 a day, this would have come out to $21,750 for this jar of perfume!
This was a costly and significant gift.
But Judas, wasn’t worried about the poor, he was selfish. John, holding to the adage hindsight is 20/20, lets us know that the reason Judas really was concerned was that he liked to lift a little cash for himself out of the coin purse.
John MacArthur notes,
“Judas’ altruism was really a front for his own personal avarice.”
Judas was selfish, and this selfishness, this selfcentered attitude kept him from worshipping.
John Piper rightly said that
“The opposite of selfless Christian worship is selfish worship, or idolatry.”
The opposite of selfless Christian worship is selfish worship, or idolatry.
Judas’ problem was that he worshipped Judas, a false god. Judas was an idolater and he could not worship Christ.
We have all seen these people who are worshippers of self. People who revolve everything around themselves. Whether it be the color of the carpet, the padding on the pews, the paint on the wall, or the style of music being sung, everything is about them.
We live in an age where churches and people are all about themselves. Worship is geared to entertain and to pull people in. Sanctuaries resemble movie theaters, and worship services a concert. Now I’m not saying every church that does this is wicked, but I do think when our primary question when preparing sermons, or picking music, or designing our sanctuary is “What do you think the people want” then we are directing our worship in the wrong direction and we are in danger of idolizing self.
“I don’t like the sanctuary, I
“I can’t worship to that song, or that music”
Church is not for the people, it’s for the King. When we come to church, we come to give glory to the God who loves us and gives us life, we come to praise the Savior who shed his blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and we come to experience the Spirit that is our helper. Everything is about Him!
The songs we sing, or don’t, the activities we participate in, or don’t and the words we say, or don’t reflect our hearts.
I’m not interested in drawing a crowd, I’m interested in worshipping my King and equipping His saints for the work of the Gospel.
Judas was all about Judas, and it destroyed him.

Mary - Worshipped with Abandon

Finally we find Mary. Mary is an amazing character in scripture. We don’t know much about her, but what we do know is this - she didn’t care what others thought, only Jesus.
She would face ridicule for her worship
She would break cultural norms for worship
She would give her treasure for Jesus
1. William Barclay, The Gospel of John, vol. 2, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY: Edinburgh, 2001), 127.
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