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The Alabaster Vial. Supper in Bethany. 1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came unto Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.

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supper in bethany
Supper in Bethany

1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came unto Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.

3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and, the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:1-3 NASB

on the way to jerusalem
On the Way to Jerusalem
  • Last stop before reaching Jerusalem.
    • Events culminate in our Lord’s death and resurrection.
  • Quiet before the storm.
  • Jesus was the honored guest at a feast
    • Hosted by Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
first meeting with martha and mary
First Meeting with Martha and Mary
  • Martha no longer had a husband.
  • Different home than that of Simon the Leper.
  • Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching.
  • Martha was left to serve by herself.

Asked Jesus to tell Mary to help out.

first meeting with martha and mary1
First Meeting with Martha and Mary

41 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things:

42 But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NASB)

first meeting with martha and mary2
First Meeting with Martha and Mary
  • Jesus did not criticize Martha for serving him.
  • Jesus appreciated Martha’s sacrifice and labor of love.
  • Looking for a heart open to receive his message.
  • “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 NASB
living water
Living Water
  • Martha focused on serving literal food.
  • Mary focused on receiving the living water, truth.
  • Receiving the truth is more important.
  • Service to God:
    • Working in cooperation with God.
    • Walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
  • Need living water to:
    • Enlighten our hearts, provide the spiritual growth and strength.

1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” John 11:1-3 (NASB)

martha meets jesus
Martha Meets Jesus
  • “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21
  • Martha believed Jesus could have healed her brother.
  • “I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” John 11:22
  • Asking Jesus to raise her brother from the dead?

We are not told what she meant with this statement.

martha meets jesus1
Martha Meets Jesus
  • Martha believed in the resurrection. John 11:24
  • “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” John 11:25
  • Resurrection, everlasting life available only through Jesus.
  • Martha believed:
    • In the resurrection.
    • Jesus was the Messiah.

She was learning the linkage between Jesus and the resurrection.

mary meets jesus
Mary Meets Jesus
  • Mary leaves the home to meet Jesus. John 12:32
  • “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32 (NASB)
  • Both Martha and Mary believed him, loved him, served him.
  • Believed Jesus had loved them, their brother.

Could not understand why Jesus had not come to heal their brother.

we are in a similar position
We Are in a Similar Position
  • Trust the Lord to lead and care for us, to protect us.
  • Faced with a difficult situation
    • As if the Lord has abandoned us.
  • We still love the Lord, believe in him
    • Don’t understand what is happening, why.
  • Jesus feels our every sorrow, every doubt, concern.

Shapes the situation to comfort our hearts, draw us closer to him.

martha and mary heart broken
Martha and Mary Heart-Broken
  • Their sorrow was so great – it touched Jesus deeply.
  • “He was deeply moved and visibly distressed.” John 11:33 (Phillips)
  • His heart ached, felt great compassion for his friends.
  • Touched with a feeling of their infirmities. Heb. 4:15; Isa. 53:3

"Could he not have kept this man from dying if he could open that blind man's eyes?" John 11:36 (Phillips)

raising of lazarus
Raising of Lazarus

40 "Did I not tell you," replied Jesus, "that if you believed, you would see the wonder of what God can do?"

41 Then they took the stone away and Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

42 I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of these people standing here so that they may believe that you have sent me.”

raising of lazarus1
Raising of Lazarus

43 And when he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with grave-clothes and his face muffled with a handkerchief. "Now unbind him," Jesus told them, "and let him go home."

impact on martha mary lazarus
Impact on Martha, Mary, Lazarus
  • Performed a miracle for their benefit.
  • Turned their great sorrow into indescribable joy.
  • Their love for Jesus would have known no bounds.
  • Looked for an outlet of expression.

Find that expression during the dinner at Simon the leper’s home.

impact on human family
Impact on Human Family
  • Joy of human family when they will be brought back from the tomb.
  • Great sorrow will be turned to indescribable joy. Job 33:24-25
  • How grateful they will be:
    • Stones of evil have been removed.
    • Roaring lion Satan in the bottomless pit.
    • All of the influences of evil subdued. Isa. 62:10; Rev. 20:2-3; Isa. 35:9

“And it will be said in that day, Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” Isa. 25:9 (NASB)

dinner at simon the leper s home
Dinner at Simon the Leper’s Home
  • Simon was either their father or Martha’s husband. Reprint 2703
  • Simon was likely their father and was no longer alive.
  • As close to a home as Jesus had during his earthly ministry. “Ointment, Very Precious.” Bro. Seklemian

Jesus’ first visit to the family since the raising of Lazarus.

mary s thought process
Mary’s Thought Process
  • How could she express her appreciation to, great love for Jesus?
  • Treat him as the finest earthly king:
    • Anointing him with finest perfume.
  • Ointment of spikenard = perfumed oil of great cost.
  • “Balsam of spikenard genuine of great price.” (Diaglott)
  • “Pure nard perfume, very precious”. (Rotherham)

At today’s wages, the ointment would have been worth $53,000.

where did the perfume come from
Where Did the Perfume Come From?
  • Make it by hand?
  • Not enough time to make it:
    • Between the raising of Lazarus and the dinner.
  • Buy it at the market?
  • Judas’ objection would have – why didn’t you just give us the money?

Perfume might have been a family heirloom. Bro. Seklemian

the anointing a family project
The Anointing – a Family Project?
  • Mary’s idea:
    • Jesus gives her sole credit for it.
  • Probably was a family project.
  • Agreement by all three to use it for their friend Jesus.
  • Martha served the dinner freeing Mary to render this service.
  • Lazarus no doubt approved its use.
jesus visit
Jesus’ Visit
  • Anticipated Jesus would visit.
  • Sent Jesus an invitation to stay, dine with them?
  • Dinner was planned, what Mary did was agreed upon.
    • Expression of their love, appreciation to their Lord.
  • Mary was the prime mover in this experience.
  • Perfume was not used to anoint the body of Lazurus.

Perfume was available to anoint the master.

the anointing
The Anointing

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head, as he reclined at the table. Matt. 26:6-7 (NASB)

“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 (NASB)

Mary was the woman, who anointed our Lord’s head and then feet.

mary s great love for jesus
Mary’s Great Love for Jesus
  • Anointing him with the most valuable thing she possessed
    • In a most humble way.
  • She bowed at her master’s feet
    • Anointing them.
    • Wiping them with the crown of her glory, her hair. 1 Cor. 11:15

Mary humbled herself before her Lord in a way very few have.

the anointing1
The Anointing

“What a picture of loving devotion is here given us! The feet, always recognized as the humblest and lowest members of the human frame--the hair of the head, especially of woman, always recognized as a special treasure and glory to her--here thus brought together in a way which signified that Mary esteemed her Lord and Master as infinitely above and beyond her.” Reprint 3534

judas criticizes mary
Judas Criticizes Mary
  • Judas proclaimed it a waste.
  • Perfume could have been sold
    • Money given to the poor. John 12:4-6
  • Kindled similar criticism from other disciples. Matt. 26:8-9; Mark 14:4-5
  • Judas was deceitful in his criticism.

Money would come to him and he could steal it.

disciple s join the criticism
Disciple’s Join the Criticism
  • Other disciples joined Judas in his criticism.
  • Seemed like an extravagance.
  • Criticism had a crushing effect on Mary’s heart.
  • Such an expression of love and thankfulness
    • Brought such indignation upon her.

Could she have been so wrong in what she felt and was trying to do?

jesus responds
Jesus Responds

6 "Leave her alone: why are you troubling her? She has done a most gracious act towards me.

7 For you always have the poor among you, and whenever you choose you can do acts of kindness to them; but me you have not always.

8 What she could she did: she has perfumed my body in preparation for my burial.

  • And I solemnly tell you that wherever in the whole world the Good News shall be proclaimed, this which she has done shall also be told in remembrance of her.” Mark 14:6-9 (Weymouth)
mary a messenger to jesus
Mary, a Messenger to Jesus
  • Blessing from God
    • Refreshed our Lord’s spirit
    • Indication of the Father’s favor.
  • Beautiful act of kindness for Jesus.
  • Jesus would be with them for only a few more days.
  • Anointed Jesus’ body for his burial.
  • Demonstrated the character, love Jesus was seeking.

She had done right!

lessons for us
Lessons for Us
  • Establish Mary as an example for us to follow.
  • Heart attitude and action Jesus is expecting from us.
  • Mary anointed our Lord’s head and his feet.
  • Our love and service to:
    • Jesus (our head).
    • Our brethren (his feet).

How do we do this?

anointing the head
Anointing the Head

21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

23 … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. John 14:21,23 (NASB)

by keeping his words
… By Keeping His Words
  • Show him our love by:
    • Keeping his words.
    • Following his example.
    • Conforming our hearts to his character.
  • “He who does not love Me does not keep My words;” John 14:24 (NASB)
  • Do not make a serious effort to keep Jesus’ words
    • Our love for him is lacking.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus mentioned three.

first two commandments
First Two Commandments



40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Matt. 22:37,39-40 (NASB)

third commandment
Third Commandment
  • A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34-35 (NASB)
royal law of love
Royal Law of Love
  • 3 commandments sum up the royal law of love. James 2:8
  • Demonstrate our love to Jesus:
    • Love God supremely.
    • Love our neighbors as ourselves.
    • Love one another as Jesus did. 1 John 3:16
  • Loving Jesus does not restrict our love to just Him
    • Expands our love to our Heavenly Father, our neighbors, our brethren. Luke 6:27-28,32-35
anointing the feet
Anointing the Feet
  • Show our love for Jesus by:
    • Bestowing that love upon, humbly serving our brethren.
  • “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:10
  • “For you were called to freedom, brethren; … through love serve one another.” Gal. 5:13 (NASB)

Show our love for Jesus by serving, loving and sacrificing for our brethren as we would do unto Jesus directly.

who do we serve
Who do We Serve?
  • Any, all of the Lord’s disciples should be recipients.
  • Includes all of our brethren, not just those who agree with us.
  • Look for those who:
    • Might be forgotten.
    • Less prominent.
    • Less noticed.
  • Help those who cannot return the service.
  • Be attentive, constantly on the lookup for those who need help.

We should seek them out, be attentive to their needs.

tabitha or dorcas an example
Tabitha or Dorcas, an Example
  • “Woman abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.” (Acts 9:36 NASB)
  • Helpful to one of the least prominent groups – the widows.
  • Made clothes (tunics and garments) for them.
  • So helpful to, loved by the widows:
    • Widows’ appeal to Peter helped convince him to raise Dorcas from the dead. Acts 9:37-41
  • Let us follow the example that Dorcas set.
breaking the alabaster vial
Breaking the Alabaster Vial
  • What is our alabaster vial and how do we break it?
  • Alabaster vial = our heart.
  • Perfume = best wishes of our love.
  • “It is not our privilege to come into personal contact with our dear Redeemer. It is our privilege to anoint the Lord's ‘brethren’ with the sweet perfume of love; and the more costly as respects our self-denials, the more precious it will be in the estimation of our Elder Brother.” Reprint 2448
breaking the alabaster vial1
Breaking the Alabaster Vial
  • “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold wateronly in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Matt. 10:42 (NASB)
  • More our service costs us, the more valuable it is in our Lord’s estimation.
  • Ease the burden of a trial on our brethren.
  • Pouring our love upon our brethren who:
    • Facing serious trials of health.
    • Trials with respect to work, world, personal lives.
    • Lonely and missing family members.
    • Struggling in their spiritual lives.
we can encourage the brethren by
We Can Encourage the Brethren by …
  • Providing a place to get away from the trials, pressures .
  • Provide spiritual encouragement
    • Giving them a willing ear, opportunity to unburden their hearts, etc.
  • Taking some of the workload off of their shoulders, helping them do.
  • Provide material assistance:
    • Time.
    • Funds.
    • Physical assistance such as transportation.
lydia an example
Lydia, an Example
  • After the Lord opened her heart,
    • She and her household were baptized.
  • “She urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon” the disciples to stay at her home. Acts 16:14-15 (NASB)
  • Follow Lydia’s example:
    • Become helpers of those used in the Lord’s service.
our motivation
Our Motivation
  • Great love, thankfulness to the Lord for his great love toward us.
  • Raised from Adamic condemnation
    • Similar position to Lazarus.
  • God “who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;”2 Cor. 1:10
  • Begotten unto an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 1:3
  • Just as thankful for our deliverance as Lazarus, his sisters were for his.
  • Lead us to hold nothing back in our service to the Lord.
our service should be done in humility
Our Service Should be Done in Humility
  • Should kneel down before our brethren to serve them.
  • Service is not to gain accolades for ourselves but
    • Ease the burden.
    • Refresh the hearts.
    • Encourage the faith.
    • Inspire the zeal of our brethren.
  • Priscilla and Aquila are examples
    • “who … risked their own necks” for the Apostle Paul. Rom. 16:3-4

Let us in humility risk our necks, lay down our lives for one another.

being prompt
Being Prompt
  • Mary anointed him for his burial. John 12:7
  • If she had waited just 6 days
    • She would have lost the opportunity.
  • Timeliness was the key.
  • Mary’s love would not let her wait.
  • She planned for, took advantage of the opportunity before her.
  • Other woman who came to anoint the Lord at his tomb, were too late. Mark 16:1-2
we need to be timely
We Need to be Timely
  • Pouring out the love of our hearts:
    • On our brethren now, while they are on this side of the veil.
  • Our brethren will eventually finish their course.
    • Chance to anoint them with love will be gone forever.
  • Need help, encouragement now:
    • During their walk up the narrow way.

Pour out the sweetest perfume of love every chance that we see.

brethren at rome an example
Brethren at Rome, an Example
  • Demonstrated this timeliness when they heard of Paul’s approach.
  • Traveled from Rome to the Market of Appius, Three Inns to meet him.
  • “When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:14-15 (NASB)
  • Encouraging to Paul for the Roman brethren to travel 43 miles:
    • Just to meet and welcome him.
  • Let us be prompt to follow the example of these brethren.
mary s hair took on the sweet fragrance
Mary’s Hair Took on the Sweet Fragrance …
  • Act of service, humility reflected beauty back to her.
  • “The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.” Prov. 11:24-25 (NASB)
  • Serve our Lord by serving their brethren:
    • Develop the sweet fragrance of a Christian character.

Sweet perfume of their love … also refreshes themselves.

taking the initiative
Taking the Initiative
  • Mary demonstrated a boldness of action.
  • Her heart would not let her delay.
  • Made sure that she showed how much she loved him.
  • Would we have taken the initiative?
  • Do we take the initiative to show our Lord how much we love him?
what is the spark of zeal
What is the Spark of Zeal?
  • What is that spark of zeal
    • Leads us to open our hearts, pour out its precious contents?
  • For Mary, it was the resurrection of her brother Lazarus.
  • When Jesus raised her brother from the dead
    • Fanned the fire of her love for Jesus into a consuming blaze.
what is the spark that leads us
What is the Spark that Leads Us?
  • Great thankfulness that Jesus has called us out of darkness?
  • Our deliverance from Adam condemnation?
  • God’s overruling providences in our lives?
  • God’s great love and mercy in forgiving us our sins, leading us up the narrow way?
jesus spark was
Jesus’ Spark Was …
  • His all-consuming love for God.
    • Lay down his life as a ransom.
  • Humble service immortalized his great love for God.
  • Must be a spark in our lives
    • Turns the fire of our love for Jesus into a consuming blaze.
    • Not stop until our love has been poured out.
  • May the Lord help us to find that spark
    • Kindle love in a blazing fire.

Pour out the sweet perfume of our love wherever we go.