GIVING - PART 2
In New Testament, Jesus spoke a lot about money. He spoke about money, giving, greed etc. 15% of what he spoke was about money and greed. This shows that money was important to Jesus. There is something significant about money.
The Gift Day we’re talking about is the annual gift day offering that we take every year in the month of November or December. We’re not the only church doing this but all the churches in Regions Beyond across the world in different countries. We’ve been doing this for many years now. What exactly do we do with this gift day offering? We use it for different purposes to support many causes within India, to support widows and also the poor. It is a great joy to be a part of this giving unless our minds are informed and hearts are changed.
Mark 14:1-9 - Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Verse 3 - While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
This account of Jesus is there in all the gospels. There was a dinner at Simon the leper’s house. Why were they having this dinner?
John 12:2 - Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
The dinner was to honor Jesus. Martha served while Lazarus was sitting along with Jesus. The dinner was happening at Simon the leper’s house. We see 2 reasons here – Simon the leper and Lazarus
The Jewish law says that a person who is a leper should be separated from everyone. But here, the dinner is happening at Simon the leper’s house. Most probably, Simon was an ex-leper who was healed by Jesus.
John 11: 1-3 - Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
In verse 5, we come to know that Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
John 11:5 - Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
When a message was sent to Jesus about Lazarus being sick, he didn’t bother to go. Jesus did so many things, he healed so many people. So, Mary and Martha thought he’d come to see Lazarus. But Jesus did something totally out of his character. He did not go and he delayed his going to Bethany.
John 11:17 - 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
John 11:32 - 35 Jesus wept.
Jesus goes to Bethany and by then Lazarus was in tomb for 4 days. Can you imagine? His body must be decaying and stinking. But what did Jesus do?
John 11:43-44 - 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
I’ve read somewhere – Earth is the closest place to heaven for those who put their faith in Jesus and the closest place to hell for those who don’t put their faith in Jesus.
If there’s anyone here who hasn’t put their faith in Jesus, today is the day.
Mark 14:3 - While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
We don’t really know if the celebration was because Simon was healed of his leprosy or if Lazarus was raised to life.
But Mary comes, takes out the perfume jar breaks it and pours it on Jesus’ head. The disciples who were present there quickly calculated the price of that perfume.
I read on the internet that the most expensive perfume in the world costs 1.5 million dollars.
Mary, takes a precious Alabaster jar and does not put just 1 or 2 drops of perfume but breaks it open and pours the whole thing on Jesus’ head. The whole room must have been filled with the fragrance of that perfume. This is an act of extraordinary and lavish devotion.
Mark 14:4-5 - 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
While Mary poured out her extraordinary and lavish devotion, the disciples were calculative, thought it was a waste and even rebuked her harshly.
This is the difference between Mary and the disciples. Jesus touches our hearts and minds.
When we give out gift day offering, how would you like to give? And when you do, what people say about it is not important. But what Jesus says is important. What does Jesus say?
Mark 14: 6 - 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
The King of the universe says that what Mary did was a beautiful thing.
Mark 14: 8-9 - 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mary did what she could do and what others think about that was not important to Mary. Her act of generosity is being talked about even today after 2000+ years.
1. Whatever we give to Jesus, this is what Jesus is going to say. We are looking for divine approval but not of man.
2. Timely action – Before Jesus died.
When Jesus rose on the third day, Mary went to see, but he was already risen and left the tomb. What Mary was unable to do on that day was done by her before his death.
3. Prophetic statement – verse 8 – prepare for my burial. The disciples did not know anything when Jesus said this. Mary saw the opportunity before Jesus dies and she gave what she could. It was an act of true devotion.
Matthew 26, in the same chapter, there was another person who showed his devotion.
Matthew 26:49 - 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Judas showed his devotion with a kiss. But it was not a true devotion. It was a betrayal.
Our giving can be either an act of true devotion like Mary’s or something like what Judas did.
I want to say something to the young generation who are largely concerned about themselves but not concerned about how to spend it. When it comes to offering, it is minimal, when it comes to hospitality, they say, “Let us dutch”. I would like to invite you. Join Mary and give an extraordinary offering.
Those who have Jesus in their lives, give thanks because Jesus paid it all for our sins. For me, my last breath on earth will be my first breath in heaven.
In Manipur, amid all the riots, people are sent to jail for holding Bibles.
While we are still here, let us do good and give generously.