One in a Million

Matthew 26:6-13 ESV
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

In the year 2000A.D., a top-tier employee named Tony Fadell made an amazing pitch to his company. He was an avid music-lover who worked for Philips Electronics as an engineer and he had this idea:

“Why don’t we build a music player that is small and convenient and able to have these digital song files loaded onto it? And not only that, why don’t we create a Napster-like content delivery system that allows us to sell individual songs direct to consumer that can be loaded onto our music players.”



Philips and a media giant called Real Networks thought the idea was ridiculous! They couldn’t imagine anyone ever buying singles again (like they did in the 60’s). Interestingly, a computer company called Apple brought on this crazy Tony Fadell as a contractor to develop his device that they called an iPod and the eventual iTunes site where today 575 million users generate billions of dollars per year for Apple. 

Have you ever missed out on an amazing opportunity?

The Gospel of John let’s us know the woman in our Matthew text is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She apparently had a knack for seizing opportunity. Remember when her sister tattled on her to Jesus? Martha wanted Mary serving but Jesus said Mary made the better choice of ignoring work and instead attentively listening to the Gospel. Not because work isn’t important…but because work will always be there. 

This anointing scene is the sequel. No one thought Mary should have done what she did but Jesus says, “she has done a beautiful thing…for you always have the poor with you.” There would be plenty of opportunities to feed or clothe or help the poor. Plenty. But this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to anoint the Son of God to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind. 


Will They Swim Upstream

I heard Andy Stanley say this one time and it really made a dent, “We want to raise our kids in such a way that they want to come home when they don’t have to come home.” That’s a powerful household ambition. It’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It is easy to miss the most important opportunities. Work calls, your out of groceries or the yard needs to be mowed. Stuff needs to get done. But there are also fleeting opportunities that don’t hang around and don’t always need to be done. Your children will probably live beyond your lifespan but they are only three once. Once. One day a week is the Lord’s Day. One. There are six other days to do everything else. Easter only shows up one day out of 365. One. What do we do with these opportunities?

On that day- Jesus was in Bethany, on that day- Jesus was at the house of Simon the leper and on that day- Mary anointed Jesus.


While we could project this thought onto many things, specifically, our text talks about Worship. Mary anointed Jesus.


Even Then

I grew up in church. I even go to church on vacation. I can’t think of 5 Sundays in the last 20 years that I haven’t been in church on Sunday. But I have been to church and not worshiped. Jesus was there. I was there. However, in the midst of the day, I didn’t worship Him. Why? Usually, there were different reasons. Maybe I didn’t feel like it or maybe I didn’t want to seem like a hypocrite or maybe I wasn’t convinced He was actually there. It is not uncommon for lifelong church people to leave a service and say, “well, the Lord wasn’t there today.” This can be especially true among my tribe. Here is the problem- when this is our attitude we are saying Jesus lied when He said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt 18:20). Maybe the writer of Hebrews was exaggerating when he said, “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb 13:15).

We have a tendency to want to worship Jesus when we feel Jesus but not a moment before. We wait for the talent on stage to get it right before we engage. Silliness. When Moses finished the work then the cloud covered the tent of meeting (Ex 40:33-34). When the song was raised with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud (2 Ch 5:13-14).  When Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God suddenly there was a great earthquake (Acts 16:25-26).

So many of us are looking for the presence of God before we worship. Jesus once asked a couple of questions, “Which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? Which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” Is the song sacred, or the temple or the altar that makes the song sacred? Please try something. The next time you find yourself in the house of the Lord and there is music…engage. Anoint Jesus with the sacrifice of praise.

Many people were in the Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper but only one worshiped. Palm Sunday is coming. Easter Sunday is coming. Don’t just go. Go and worship.



A weekly blog by G. Shawn Scarborough, Pastor of Livingstone Church.

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