Sermon 3/28/2021: Nothing Is Wasted On Jesus (Lent VI – Palm Sunday)

At this time, due to Coronavirus concerns, many are not quite ready to return to face to face worship. If this includes you, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/529858438

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/creunoVVanq

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Majesty
Majesty by CRC Worship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaRwD2Y7C0s

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN O How I Love Jesus
Reba McEntire – Oh, How I Love Jesus (Official Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NShctvNERJk

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Nothing Is Wasted On Jesus.
Text: Mark 14:1-11, 18-19, John 12:1-8
Series: The Journey Through Lent To The Cross

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 14:1 It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people.”
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? 5 For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” And they reproached her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

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HYMN Where He Leads Me
Where He Leads Me (I Can Hear My Saviour Calling)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9FqFC0WA-o

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing is wasted on Jesus.

Let’s imagine that all of a sudden, you wake up. It’s the middle of the night. You can smell the smoke. Your house is on fire. And you become aware that your family is already outside and they’re calling to you. You only have a moment on your way through the house to the front door to grab what you treasure and to escape the flames. What do you take with you as you run out the door? What is the treasure that you can’t live without, the material thing that you won’t leave behind in the house? What is your treasure?

Jesus said in Matthew 6:19 about treasures in general, that we would not want to lay them up, store them up, pile them up, but he recommended that we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. And then in verse 21, he makes a very important point – for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. So where is your treasure? Or perhaps, we could say, what do you treasure?

We are talking about Palm Sunday and beginning the events of the week of Holy Week, leading up to the Cross and Easter. On Palm Sunday, Jesus rides a colt up the hill to the eastern gate of the temple.

And it is predicted in the Old Testament that this is the way the Messiah will arrive. When Jesus rides this colt up into the temple, the Romans have no idea what he’s doing. But every person with an understanding of Jewish history and tradition knows that he is saying, “I am the one you’ve been yearning for. I am the one you’ve been dreaming would come to you. I am the Messiah.” There’s no more confusion if you understand Jewish tradition. And all the people are laughing and rejoicing and they’re cutting branches off the palm trees to lay as a carpet on the road up the hill from the Kidron Valley. They’re taking off their cloaks and laying them down to be a carpet for the colt to ride upon because the king is coming, the Messiah is here.

Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth, has declared himself. And people are singing and shouting and praising God, “Hosanna. Hosanna in the highest.” It’s just about a perfect day. But of course, to the Pharisees, to the other Jewish leaders, this does not agree with what they think is proper. In fact, Jesus is not anyone special from their point of view. And so they bring criticism, especially even to the children for singing. And Jesus says to them, “If they were silent today, even the rocks would cry out. But see, that’s the way the world is. All too frequently, that’s the way the religious world is. All you have to do to be criticized and condemned is to speak your mind, to say anything clearly. And all of a sudden, all kinds of people rise up to tear you down because that’s the way the religious world works sometimes. All you need to do to be popular is to pretend that you’re what everyone wants. All you need to do to be unpopular is to tell people that they need to do something that they don’t want to do. All you need to do to be unpopular is to tell the truth because then people can’t be in denial or pretend that you agree with them.

So here’s Palm Sunday. Jesus comes into Jerusalem. It’s called the “triumphal entry” because it is a triumph – It is a day of triumph, but it’s also a day of criticism. Palm Sunday is also the beginning of the preparation for the Passover season because, beginning on Palm Sunday, six days in advance of the Passover, the Passover lambs were selected. The Passover lambs went through an inspection. And after the first inspection, oil was poured on their feet and this, of course, marked the fur. This, of course, marked the animal as being under consideration. Several days later, the final inspection happened, the approval of the Passover lamb, as I understand it. The lambs that were approved were marked by pouring oil on their heads. You can immediately tell which lambs were selected as Passover lambs by these markings. This begins six days before Passover.

And then something very interesting happens because, you see, there was one Passover lamb that was not marked in the proper way. There was one Passover lamb that was not anointed on the head with oil, as should have happened. But of course, Jesus knows that everything will work out.

We’re looking at several scriptures because we’re dealing with something that’s recorded in all four gospels. Mark 14:3, “And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask.” There’s a picture of an alabaster flask to the right of the words I’m reading. It’s about five inches high. It is sealed by the fact that it is formed as a single piece, capturing the ointment of pure nard inside the vessel. Because once the vessel is broken, once the vessel is opened, the fragrance will begin to dissipate, decreasing the value of the ointment. And so, it is sealed in this tiny little flask small enough to carry in the hand, an alabaster flask.

Mark 14 says, “Of ointment of pure nard, very costly.” And this woman opened the flask in the only way that was possible. There was no lid. There was no cork. There was no screwtop. She literally had to break the top of the flask, permanently and irretrievably opening the container. And then, she took that ointment, that oil, that she poured all over the head of Jesus Christ.

It says in Mark, “Some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment thus wasted?'” Matthew says it a little bit different. It names who was doing the complaining, who was doing the criticism. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?” Apparently, in their opinion, the ointment was wasted on Jesus. Back to Mark, verse 5, “For this ointment might have been sold for more than 300 denarii and given to the poor.” And they reproached her. They criticized her. They attacked her. “This ointment might have been sold for a year’s wages and given to the poor. That is a much more worthy use of this ointment rather than to waste it on Jesus.”

Verse 6, “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her?'” And he goes on to say, “She has done a beautiful thing to me, for you always have the poor with you. And whatever you will, you can do good to them, but you will not always have me.”

This is the form that the criticism takes. If somebody takes something that’s valuable and holds it up– say, for example, this $20 bill. And if they say, “I’m going to do something for God with this.” All of a sudden, people will come up with all kinds of other things that you should do.

There’s an old joke about some money that got mixed together at the bank. And the 1$ bills were mixed in with the $20 bills. And the $20 bills were talking about how they had gone to Las Vegas, how they had gone to beautiful restaurants, how they had gone on vacation and on great trips. And the $20 bills looked at the $1 bills where have you been? And the $1 bills say, “Well, we’ve been to the Baptist Church and the Methodist Church and the Catholic Church …”

And you see – that kind of criticism is the same sort of thing that was happening in our scripture today. A woman gave something valuable to Jesus. And the minute she stepped up — the minute she stepped up, instantly, there were people there to tell her that she should do something different with her money, not their money, with her money. And that human tendency is still with us.

Jesus is not saying that we should not help the poor. What he’s saying is, “If you want to see the poor helped, why don’t you take some money out of your pocket?” It’s not the time to criticize what someone else thinks we should do for Jesus. And of course, maybe $20 is okay. But when it gets to $60 or $80 or $100, all of a sudden, we’re starting to feel like, “Wow, that’s some real money there.” And we begin to wonder if we shouldn’t do something with it other than something Jesus would want. That’s a temptation that they’re dealt with.

But let’s just assume for a minute that Jesus is not lying. Let’s just assume for a minute that it’s not just Jesus’s attempt to make the woman feel better. He said, “She has done a beautiful thing for me.” What could that beautiful thing possibly have been?

Well, if you look back a little earlier, Mark, chapter 8, you remember when Peter started rebuking Jesus to tell him that this whole idea that he should die on the cross was nonsense. Jesus literally had to say, “Get behind me, Satan.” You see, it was the disciples that were criticizing the woman …. Sometimes, even the people closest to Jesus don’t reflect the opinions of Jesus. Sometimes, in fact, they reflect the opinions of Satan. Jesus said that explicitly in Mark, chapter 8. But it’s possible he might have said it here as well.

When someone else was generous, that’s not the time for us to be critical. They have felt God’s leading. They have been obedient. And we should not try to deflect them from doing what they believe to be God’s will. So let’s assume that Jesus is not lying. This is a beautiful thing. And the beautiful thing might just simply be this. This woman, in a way that Saint Peter could not, showed Jesus by her actions that she approved and understood and supported everything he was saying about dying on the cross. You have to wonder what it was like to be Jesus and feel that no one understood you or accepted you even the disciples.

But there’s another interesting thing that I learned this week. Mark 14:8, Jesus says, “She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for burying.” This week, I came across the references to the idea that the Passover lamb would be anointed by oil upon the head before sacrifice to identify that it truly was a proper sacrifice for the sins of the nation. I think what Jesus is saying here, if what I read this week is accurate, is that this woman poured the oil on Jesus’s head as a way of declaring that he was the lamb that takes away the sin of the world. And indeed, it is part of God’s plan for the cross, because as Jesus is dying on the cross for us, according to the Gospel of John, they are beginning to sacrifice the Passover lambs in the temple. And the Passover lamb, who is Jesus, is likewise being sacrificed at that exact moment.

So whether it’s one or the other or both, Jesus accepts the gift of the woman and says, “It’s a beautiful thing.” But the disciples don’t like it. You see, people will criticize and have contempt, or hold you in contempt, and they will also attempt to control what you give to Jesus, whether that’s in time, money, or leadership. Why are you doing that? Why are you wasting your time? And we just simply have to have the courage to say, “I feel that God has asked me to do that.” And it’s not a waste. It’s for Jesus. Nothing is wasted when we give it to Jesus Christ. It’s very likely this pure ointment of nard was this woman’s life savings. What she would live on in her retirement? It was possibly the only thing of value that she owned. But she felt that she was supposed to give it to Jesus, and so she did. Don’t let someone’s attitude keep you from following the inclinations of your heart and your spirit in terms of what you give to Jesus, whether that’s time or energy or money or service. It’s not a waste if it’s for Jesus.

And then Jesus goes on to make a promise on behalf of the woman, which we have not kept. “And truly, I say to you,” Jesus said, “wherever the gospel is preached,” that this is just that important. “Wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” We are supposed to tell everyone about how the woman gave her life savings for Jesus just a few days before he died on the cross. It’s not a waste. It’s for Jesus.

Now, John has a slightly different impression of what’s going on. He reveals that the ringleader in the criticism was Judas Iscariot. John 12:4, “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, he who was to betray him, said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for 300 denarii?'” A denarii is the equivalent of a day’s working wage for a laborer. Now, they didn’t really have weekends back then, but that’s almost a year’s worth of salary, by the way, for us. “Why was this ointment not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?” But look at verse 6. “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to take what was put into it.” In fact, we really ought to have some concern that out of all the 12 disciples that Judas was the one chosen to be the treasurer!

But there’s the motivation of Judas. It’s not really for the poor, it’s that if he can divert this generosity to something that he controls, it will benefit him. That’s something else that can draw you a lot of criticism … is that people feel envious that they are losing out because of your generosity.

Back to Matthew 26:14, “Then one of the 12, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priest.” This apparently is Judas’s response to being cheated out of that 300 denarii. He went to the chief priest, and he said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him 30 pieces of silver. That’s all it took for Judas to betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in the dark. He was the one who was supposed to get close enough to Jesus to identify him to the soldiers so that he could be arrested … for 30 pieces of silver. And from that moment, Judas saw an opportunity to betray him. What a waste that was.

I found an interesting quote this week from Jürgen Moltmann, the German theologian. It’s in the context of a larger quote, which is on Facebook, if you’d want to look at it. He points out the symbol of the cross and the church, the symbol of the cross between two lit candles, the symbol of the cross and the church points to the God who is crucified, not between two candles on an altar, but “the God who was crucified” was crucified between two thieves, not in the church, but in the Place of the Skull, not on the church property, but outside where the outcasts belong, even outside the gates of the city. The death of God on the cross, the God who was crucified as a sign to those who are far away from the church. See how much you’re loved? For God so loved the world, that he sent his son. And so, the cross outside of the city gates, outside of the church, outside of any place that anyone would call holy, the place where Jesus died is a beacon to those who have no hope, but God’s love is calling them to come forward to experience grace and forgiveness.

There’s an old saying, “I asked Jesus how much he loved me. And wearing a crown of thorns, he spread his arms out on the cross and said, ‘This much,’ and he died.”

I can kind of imagine Jesus looking at me and saying, “David, that’s how much I love you. Now, how much do you love me?” And I think I would have to be honest, I would say, “Well, Lord, compared to you, it’s about this much. (Holding my hands about five inches apart.) Only about this much. Nowhere near what you deserve, but this much.”

And I thought in my imagination that perhaps Jesus would look at me and say, “David, that’s good, because it’s a little more than it was yesterday, a little more than it was last year. It’s a lot more than it was many, many, many years ago,” We’re constantly told how much Jesus loves us, but it’s not so often that we’re asked to tell Jesus how much we love him.

You see, you have to think to yourself, where is your treasure? Where is your treasure? Because if your treasure is Jesus Christ, you will come toward him, and you’ll find as you walk in the light, you’ll be continually cleansed of your sins. If Jesus Christ is your treasure, you’ll follow him and walk with him, and what he says will be important to you, and what he asks you to do will be important to you. If Jesus Christ is your treasure, even this little bit (holding my hands five inches apart), you’ll work hard to make it a little bit more because where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

So let’s just imagine that you had this alabaster flask in your hands, and you understood what it meant to be the Passover lamb and for the Passover lamb to be marked, and you understood, somehow, in your heart what would support and affirm Jesus in what he was doing. If you know who your treasure is, perhaps like this woman, you would not hesitate to break the jar, as the scent of the ointment fills the room, and give the most precious thing you have to Jesus. Because nothing is wasted, when we give it to Jesus.

Please, pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are so hesitant. When we get our change, we count the change. When we get the bill at the restaurant, we check and make sure the math is right. Even when we’re playing a game of solitaire, Lord, we are hesitant because we’re so afraid that we might accidentally make a mistake. But, Lord, help us to feel the love that we have for you in our heart, along with our gratitude for everything that you’ve done for us. Help us, Lord, to be aware of who you are and how we feel about you, so that if we have a chance to do something, whether it’s a little $1 thing or a medium-size $20 thing or, Lord, maybe it’s an alabaster jar, a year’s salary kind of thing, that we would not be hesitant when we hear the prompting of your spirit in our hearts to give something to you that would help you in your hour of need to do the Father’s will. We ask that in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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