In John 4:23 Jesus says that the Father is seeking true worshippers. He is on the lookout for people that set their mind’s attention and heart’s affection completely on Him. In the Gospel of Mark there is a poignant illustration of this kind of worship. In chapter 14, verses 3-9 we see the familiar story of the woman who breaks open a jar of perfume and pours it over the head of Jesus as an act of worship. In John 12 this woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. There are several principles we can learn from Mary related to worship.
- Worship should be consistent.
One thing I appreciate about Mary is that when we see her in the Gospels she is always at the feet of Jesus. In Luke 10:38-42 she is sitting at His feet, listening to Him teach as her sister was busy serving guests. In John 11:32 she falls at Jesus’ feet as she grieves over the loss of her brother Lazarus. Here in this story she anoints the feet of Jesus with the same perfume that she poured over His head (John 12:3). Warren Wiersbe writes, “she found at His feet her blessing, she brought to His feet her burdens, and she gave at His feet her best.” You might say that worship was part of the fabric of her life, not a once-a-week thing. We all need to learn to worship consistently: when times are good and when times are bad; when you’re at church or you’re at home; when you’re around other Christians or when you’re by yourself.
- Worship should be costly.
The perfume was very expensive. Mark tells us it was worth 300 denarii which was about a year’s wages. Mary’s intention was to honor Jesus in a very extravagant manner. What’s interesting about this is that in the Gospels we see Jesus doing so much for others but we find few occurences of people doing something for Jesus. If we are not careful we can enjoy the blessings of Christ while being stingy with our resources and selfish with our time. But if we want to be true worshippers like Mary, we will hold nothing back in honoring God with our lives. All that we do should point to His limitless glory and make His Name known in a greater and greater way. It’s important to keep in mind that the ways we honor God will be different from person to person. In Mark 14:8 Jesus said that Mary had done what she could. What could you do to glorify God with your life? What could you sacrifice? What could you give? I love how Isaac Watts says it in his hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: “But drops of grief could ne’er repay the debt of love I owe, here Lord I give myself away, tis’ all that I can do.”
- Worship should be unashamed.