A number of years ago, my wife and I visited a small church where during the worship service a woman began to dance in the aisle. She was soon joined by others. Carolyn and I looked at each other and an unspoken agreement passed between us: “Not me!” We come from church traditions that favor a serious liturgy, and this other form of worship was well beyond our comfort zone.
But if Mark’s story of Mary’s “waste” means anything at all, it suggests that our love for Jesus may express itself in ways that others find uncomfortable (Mark 14:1–9). A year’s wages were involved in Mary’s anointing. It was an “unwise” act that invited the disciples’ scorn. The word Mark uses to describe their reaction means “to snort” and suggests disdain and mockery. Mary may have cringed, fearing Jesus’ response. But He commended her for her act of devotion and defended her against His own disciples, for Jesus saw the love that prompted her action despite what some would consider the impractical nature of it. He said, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (v. 6).
Different forms of worship—informal, formal, quiet, exuberant—represent a sincere outpouring of love for Jesus. He’s worthy of all worship that comes from a heart of love.
I bow before You, Almighty God, and worship You now. You’re worthy of the highest praise and adoration.
Mark 13 ends with Jesus urging His disciples, and everyone, to be awake rather than asleep when He returns (vv. 35–36). Chapter 14 gives us contrasting examples of what it means to be ready. Into the account of those who are conspiring to get rid of Jesus (14:1–2, 10–11), Mark inserts the story of a woman who honors His approaching death (vv. 3–9). In the spirit of her affections, she was awake even if she didn’t consciously know that she was foreshadowing Jesus’ suffering (vv. 6–9). A group of religious leaders, on the other hand, were clueless to the fact that in the secrecy of their murderous plans, they, along with Judas, were about to betray and demand the crucifixion of their long-awaited Savior. Two days before the Jewish feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, they were sleeping in what Jesus had called the “yeast” of hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).