In Matthew 26 we read about an encounter Jesus had with a woman named Mary. Jesus was not tolerable of women but in a culture and time when women were not viewed as equals, Jesus treated women with respect and welcomed them into His circle.
In this story, Mary of Bethany, a devout follower of Jesus, enters a home where Jesus is and as He is seated, she takes an alabaster jar filled with fragrant oil and anoints Jesus. Her interaction with Jesus gives us essential insight into worship.
Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. As a devout follower of Jesus, she heard Him teach firsthand and witnessed many of His miracles, most significant for her was the raising of her brother Lazarus from the dead.
This act of anointing Jesus is a picture of what worship should look like.
Worship is not simply an emotional experience, although our emotions will be impacted. Worship is the result of our knowledge of Jesus and His unmerited blessings in our life.
This is what drove Mary to the feet of Jesus in what is one of the most extravagant expressions of worship recorded in the Gospels.
Worship should never be about a feeling or what we want from God but a response to who He is and what He has done.
Worship that attempts to gain some “thing” from God is called manipulation.
Worship is not about what I get but about all I can give to the One who has given me everything. In the context of Christianity, worship is all about Jesus Christ.
Did you know that Christ is not Jesus’ last name?
“Christ” is a title and titles are a means of identifying a person and tell us something specific about the individual. For example, John the Baptist, this identified him as one who baptized people. Simon the leper, this identified him as someone healed of leprosy. Jesus had a title that identified him, Jesus the Christ.
The name Christ comes from the Greek word, Christos, which means the anointed one. It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiyach, which means anointed one.
Mary recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. This truth compelled Mary to give Jesus the best she had in worship. The Gospel of John tells us that the value of this oil was 300 Denarii, a years’ worth of wages. This was no small gift.
Commentators theorize this alabaster jar was to be used as a dowry for marriage. Without a dowry, Mary forfeited her chance to be married. An unmarried woman in the first century was completely at the mercy of strangers for survival. But that did not stop Mary.
To open this alabaster jar, it had to be broken. This meant it was a single use only. There was no saving a portion for herself. This teaches us that when it comes to worship, we need to give our all, holding nothing back, leaving nothing on the table.
The essence of worship is abandonment.
When you arrive at church, how do you approach worship? Did the truth that Jesus is the Christ, prompt you to get to your seat early so that you would not miss a single chord of worship? Are you prepared to give Jesus your best worship?
There was a time in my life when I was concerned with the wrong things in worship. What if I swayed off-beat, sang off-key, or forgot the lyrics mid-song? What if the worship team played a song I didn’t like?
Some of the disciples were focused on the wrong things. They began grumbling, questioning Mary’s worship and suggested she could have sold this jar and help the poor. When Jesus corrected the disciples for their grumbling, His point wasn’t that we should not take care of the poor.
When it comes to worship, we need to be singularly focused on the One we worship.
Are you giving your best in worship to God? Are you withholding praise or critiquing others for how they worship? Let’s abandon ourselves completely in worship and give our attention and affection to the One who gave us everything!