What Stops us from Offering our Best to God ? – Mark – 14:1-11

Our passage for today is from Mark 14:1-11 [READ]

If we stay alert and pay close attention to our passage today, I believe it reveals some of the heart idols that prevent us from experiencing the joy of living out a fulfilling Christian life.

This event takes place two days before the Passover & the feast of unleavened bread. The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Jesus and kill him.

While Jesus was in a place called Bethany in the house of Simon, the leper, reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and broke the container and poured it over Jesus’s head.

Pure nard is also known as ‘Jatamansi oil’, only found in the Himalaya mountain in India, extracted from the root of a tree, is one of the most effective essential oils for supporting a calm mind and balanced body. Jatamansi oil is one of the most important herbal medicines for dealing with grief after losing a loved one. It can also be used to anoint those who are transitioning from life to death.

The ointment the woman poured on Jesus’s head was one of the rarest and best in those days. The woman spent around 2 months of wages to purchase it, probably for a special occasion in her life, or as an investment for the future.

The same ointment is also mentioned in the Songs of Solomon 1:12 where the bride says “While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.”

The perfume mentioned in this verse is the same ointment the woman poured on Jesus. Probably she brought and saved it to please and attract her future husband.

In today’s context, it’s almost like our saving accounts, a fixed deposit, or a gold deposit that we set apart either for a special occasion, like marriage, children’s education, children’s wedding etc.  or as security for future.

Seeing what the woman did with that expensive ointment, some of the people gathered there scolded the woman and did not appreciate it.

According to them, it was a stupid thing to do; instead, they said the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Jesus, instead, turns to those guys and tells them to leave her alone and says something remarkable about the woman. He says “She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

I want us to pause here for a moment and understand why it was such a significant act for Jesus.

1.    The woman knew something that others didn’t

The woman’s act showed that she learned something about Jesus that others didn’t. She recognised who Jesus really is. Just like Simeon, the man who saw baby Jesus in the temple brought for dedication and instantly recognised him as Lord, like the Shepherds who saw Jesus in the manger and was filled with Awe.

She knew she was in the presence of her true Lord and King. The one who has come to give abundant life, a peace that passes all understanding, joy unending, life eternal. One who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Just like when we first heard the Gospel and heard the story of Jesus, the veils from our eyes fell and hearts responded in faith.

2.    The woman responded in Worship.

When she recognised who Jesus was her natural response was adoration & worship.

3.    The woman offered the best Sacrifice

Like Abel who brought the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions to offer at the altar of God, she brought the best she had.

I could imagine this woman when she heard Jesus was in the town. She must have run into her home, looking around and thinking what the best gift she has in her house that she can offer to her Lord and Savior. And her eye fell on the Alabaster flask of pure nard that she had saved for her future. And immediately without a second thought, grabs the flask and runs towards Jesus.

The price didn’t matter to her, the people didn’t matter to her, the occasion didn’t matter to her, the place didn’t matter, her dignity didn’t matter.

All that mattered was the Jesus.

4.    The woman expressed Passionate Love.

She didn’t do it just to merely impress Jesus or show off to the people how wealthy she is. She didn’t do it because she wanted her name printed on the wall saying “Donated by Miss”.

She did it purely out of passionate love for Christ.

It was clearly seen through her act of worship.

5.    The woman Empathized with Jesus.

Imagine, Jesus as he was reclining on the table, he is dealing with the pain and agony his body is going to suffer. He could feel the weight of the sins of the whole World upon him. He is dealing with the pain of separation from this Father.

We could see a glimpse of his pain in the garden of Gethsamani when he is crying out to his Father saying “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

And there as he is dealing with all this in his mind, this woman breaks the alabaster flask with pure nard. The ointment that is meant to ease the grief of a suffering man who is transitioning from life to death.

They say the texture & aroma of the ointment is so strong that it sticks to the hair and keeps throwing out the fragrance for almost a week. Probably, when Jesus was taking all the painful lashes, beatings and piercing, he might have smelled the aroma of the ointment that woman poured on his head.

All these reasons make the moment very significant, and only Jesus could understand it.

Immediately after this event, we read about a person who is exactly opposite to the woman. He goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus for the sake of money, for his own selfish gain.

He failed to recognise Jesus as his true saviour and master. Instead, he was so corrupt in his mind that he sold himself to the high priests.

Now, as a Christian, we are called to be like the woman in faith, in action, in thought.

James 4:8 says “Draw near to God as He will draw near to you, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Romans 12:1 Paul writes “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

2 Timothy 2:8 says “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to the gospel”

And, even though we ought to live in this manner, we still fail to give our best to Jesus in our practical lives. I believe one of the reasons why we fail to experience the joy of living out a fulfilling Christian life is because we fail to offer our best to God like the woman with alabaster oil.

– It doesn’t mean that if we don’t offer our best God will not love us.
– We don’t do it to win his favour and approval.
– God has already approved us in his son Jesus, the day we repented of our sins and put our faith in Him.

But consider the words of James 2:14-17

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Matthew 25:35-36 & 40
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Hebrews 13:15-16
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Sadly, we all fail to do this in some measure or the other.

As an application point, I want to share from our passage what are the reasons some of us fail to offer our best to God.

I believe the three characters represented in this passage reveal three reasons why some of us fail to offer our best to God.


The first reason we fail to offer our best to Jesus is when we fail to see our sinful state, especially our ungodly attachments with the world and the things of this world.

When we look at the woman, the first thing that stands out is that she didn’t care about the value of the ointment, she apparently comes out as a person who has no attachments to the things of the world and second, she was desperate to be with Jesus.

Let me highlight some ways in which we attach ourselves to the things of this world that stops us from offering our best to God?

–    Our attachment with money & possessions – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
–    Our attachment with ungodly people – “Are we unequally yoked with unbelivers & ungodly people”
–    Our attachment with habitual / unrepented sins.
–    Our attachment with fame and prosperous lifestyle.
–    Our attachment to self.

Romans 12:2 – We ought not to be confirmed to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. – Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The People

The second reason some of us fail to offer our best to Jesus is like the people who scolded the woman and was unable to see and understand what was going to happen to Jesus in a couple of days, we also fail to see what Christ has accomplished for us by His death on the cross.

The people failed to understand Jesus even though he told time and again that he will be handed over to the chief priests and will be killed. They expected that Jesus will defeat the Romans, establish his Kingdom & become their King. But what Jesus was about to accomplish through his death on the cross was far greater that what they imagined

The second reason we fail to offer our best to Jesus is because we fail to value and understand what it means to be forgiven of our sins and what it means to be adopted in the family of God for eternity.

And that is why we keep reminding ourselves daily the Gospel.

Judas Iscariot

The third reason some of you fail to offer your best to Jesus is because, like Judas you have stooped so low that for your selfish gains you have sold yourselves to the devil.

The reason you come to church and fellowship with people is to betray Christ and betray his people. You have become wolves in sheep’s clothing in the hands of the devil, to turn away the minds and hearts of the people, from God.

The purpose of your lives has become to cheat and destroys one another for your own selfish purpose of gaining wealth & possession.

We have become deceivers and lairs.

To those who are in this position, I want to warn and encourage you that it is still not late for you to turn back, repent of your wrongdoings to God and his people.

Don’t end up like Judas who couldn’t gather the courage to come back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. I’m 100% sure that Jesus would have invited him with open arms.

Finally, as I end, I hope this passage has convicted your hearts just as it has convicted mine.

Our response shouldn’t be to hide our faces and run away from God and his people, rather it should be to go to God in repentance and faith, and confess our sins to one another so that we are restored back to God.

Let’s pray.

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