Friday, February 26, 2010

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday February 28, 2010
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EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP
(Go beyond yourself to worship JESUS)
(Matthew 26:1-13, Mark 14:1-9 & John 12:1-11)

Matthew chapter 26, Mark chapter 14, & John chapter 12, all mark the beginning of the last week of JESUS’ life here on earth, during HIS first advent. It was now just six days before the Passover, and HIS mission here was almost complete. In just a few days, HE would begin HIS “passion”, and HE would suffer greatly for the likes of us. Salvation would soon be available, through HIM, to every man, woman, and child who would be born into this world, if they choose it. And we owe it all to GOD, WHO loves this world so much, that HE gave us the most precious part of HIMSELF, CHRIST JESUS.
The time schedule now became much more definite and critical. Here, the occasion finds JESUS at the home of a man named Simon, where HE is joined by HIS friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, and is being honored with a dinner that the women had so carefully and gratefully prepared. Lazarus, to whom JESUS had recently given a new lease on life, sat at the table with JESUS. It must have been a joyous time for the trio, and also for JESUS, as HE probably just wanted to spend a little quiet time with friends, before HE continued on along HIS journey to Jerusalem, and, to HIS appointment with death on a hill called Golgotha.
Then, all of a sudden, in the midst of the festive atmosphere of the moment, Mary walks in with an expensive bottle of precious ointment. She fell at the feet of JESUS and begin to anoint HIM with the aromatic fragrance of nard, that few Jews could afford at that time, without having to save for it for quite a while. It was usually sealed and imported from northern India in alabaster boxes or flasks, and was only opened on the most special of occasions. This lavish gift was perhaps, meant by Mary, to express her deepest thanks to JESUS for HIS restoring of her brother’s life, and also, for just simply being their friend and SAVIOR.
Unfortunately, one person’s joy can often be another person’s dislike, and now Judas the traitor shows us the first signs of his deceit and underlying greed. Judas was the treasurer of the group of the twelve disciples who regularly accompanied JESUS. And even though he speaks of using the proceeds from the sell of such a gift to feed the poor, the Apostle John, who was also present at the table, knew that Judas only wanted control of the money for himself. For, he had regularly pilfered from the contents of the twelve Apostles savings, and spent the money on himself (John 12: 4-6).
In all three Gospel accounts, we see JESUS stepping in to defend HIS friend Mary’s actions toward HIM, and HE rebuked Judas and the other dissenters saying, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for MY burial. You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer.” And while they were there at the house in Bethany, many people came to see JESUS, and the man called Lazarus, whom JESUS had raised from the dead. In fact, so popular had Lazarus become with the people after his resurrection, that, the Jewish hierarchy decided to kill him also. It was because of Lazarus, that many people had abandoned the Pharisees and leading priests, and began to believe on JESUS.
Mary’s extravagant act of worship stands out prominently in the annuals of New Testament recorded history. In fact, in this particular instance, Mary stands alone in her sensitivity regarding the certain doom that JESUS was now just two days away from experiencing. She exhibits a true sensitivity that embodied sorrow, thankfulness, and respect for what JESUS had done for her personally, and, for what HE was about to do for all mankind, who were willing to accept HIM in their hearts.
Mary’s gift of anointment, perhaps, represented her life savings, as Jewish tradition tells us that it was valued at around 500 denarii (Greek units of monetary measurement), a small fortune in those days. However, it also represents, and uncovers, Mary’s profound motive of wanting to give to JESUS, the very best that she had.
Lawrence O. Richards once wrote, “JESUS does not suggest that all will be saved, but that all humanity is invited to look to the cross and live”. So I guess when we look to the cross with our whole heart, as Mary did, we can’t help but want to give JESUS our very best and most extravagant worship of love, for what HE has done for us, and, at one and the same time, express our love for our FATHER GOD for sending HIM to us, to save us, from our sinful selves.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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