Shabbat Shalom to you all! I don’t know about you, but I love and delight in His Shabbat, aměn! It is such a joy to be able to come together and worship our King and rejoice in Him, immerse in His Word and be filled with great shalom that He pours out lavishly upon us who fear His Name! With Pěsaḥ and Unleavened Bread just days away we look forward with great joy and excitement to be able to obediently remember to keep His Feasts as a sign to us on our hands and as a reminder between our eyes (that is our foreheads), that the Torah of יהוה is to be in our mouth. What a joy to celebrate His Feasts!!! Last week the message was, ‘get rid of the leaven’ and as we know this is a time for us to assess our lives of worship and be sure that we celebrate His Feasts with no leaven in our homes and symbolically having no leaven/sin/lawlessness in our lives! True worshippers will worship in Spirit and in Truth and tonight I want us to look at what pure worship looks like – or rather what pure and unadulterated worship requires. In a message tonight called, “Extravagance of Pure Worship”, let us briefly take a look at a great example we have been given in Scripture to be spoken of in remembrance to her act of worship unto יהושע Messiah. Please turn with me to Marqos/Mark 14:1-11 (Read).
As we read here this event took place shortly before Pěsaḥ and although the authorities wanted to delay the sentencing and putting to death of יהושע till after the festival; however יהוה had other plans – the fulfilment of His Feasts and יהושע becoming our Passover Lamb!!! No man can alter the appointed times of our Creator – even though they desperately attempt to do so (Daniel 7:25) – no man can! It was during this evening we have just read about that we see an extravagant display of pure worship to which we can learn a great deal, on the other hand we also see hindered worship and the clear difference being displayed reveals simply 2 treasures, 2 hearts and 2 very different lives headed in very different directions. As we look at this event may we certainly be encouraged to display a pure heart filled extravagant worship unto our Saviour and King, יהושע Messiah! If I were to ask all of you tonight, “Do you love יהושע?” The answer I am sure that we all would give would be an emphatic YES! But how much do you truly love Him? Or better put – do you know what love for Him is and what that means? Is there a point in your life where the price of loving יהושע just gets a little too high for you to pay? You see because Scripture is very clear in its message – love for Him Elohim demands a 100% total commitment and nothing less!!!
True love demands faithfulness; it demands total commitment as I have said – commitment to another, leaving no room for selfishness and certainly no place for another to steal away your devotion! We see today how quickly and so easily marriages are failing – simply because true love is not evident simply because true love toward Elohim is virtually non-existent! In your walk of worship unto Elohim have you ever thought or pondered just what you are willing to do or how far will you go and just how much will you give of yourself to show and prove your love to Him? For some this is not even a question to consider, and rightly so, as there is no limit – rather it is an extravagant worship filled life of giving your all; but for others the question remains, “At what point will the line be drawn where they may end up saying that the price is just too high and the demands are simply far too great and they cannot therefore do what is required?”
Many today will easily give with their lips devotion and praise yet at times find that their hearts are far from Him, especially when that very line of a costly walk is reached! As we look at this story of this woman who we know from Yoḥanan 12 is Miryam and the disciple who stirred up the rest over the ‘wasting’ of the ointment is Yehuḏah from Qerioth, son of Shim‘on (known to us today as Judas), the disciple who betrayed יהושע, we can see the distinct contrast between the two hearts. What we must be very careful of today is the danger of a Yehuḏah (Judas) mind-set! What do I mean by this? Well just think about it for a moment – he was one of the 12! He initially chose to leave all and follow יהושע just as the other 11 had done, leaving their old way of life behind to walk in faith following Messiah, basically saying goodbye to what they had known and walked wherever they all had gone. He sat at the feet of יהושע, being taught great truth and insight – heard the explanation of the parables – so what changed? Well he simply allowed the world to creep back in to his heart and slowly but surely the love of money gripped his heart and took over where the love of יהושע should have been steadfast! In a sense he had simply forgotten the one thing that the other 11 had kept in mind, the one thing that Miryam displayed this night we have just read about – “NOTHING LESS THAN THE BEST!”
Yehuḏah (Judas) had simply lost the ability to give nothing but the best as compromise for self, perhaps through fear or insecurity and threats had set in. His faith weakened as he allowed the world’s lies and corruptness to sound bigger and better than following the truth in faith!
יהושע tells us that where your treasure is there your heart will be also (Luqas/Luke 12:34). Yehuda’s heart was not in יהושע anymore but rather in self and money and we know that we are told that you cannot serve two masters! But what are the major differences we see here between the heart of Yehuḏah and that of Miryam? Well first off let us look at Yehuḏah (Judas) – he was what we can call a ‘taker’ – he didn’t give a cent – he just took what he could. In fact although he would say that the money could be used for the poor, he was digging in to the money bag for himself (Yoḥanan 12:6)!!!
He was giving lip service with a hard heart! His heart was closed and tight. We must realise that thieving or stealing and stinginess all begin with pride. Ever heard the following:
“I deserve what you have more than what you do as I work harder and I will take it if I want to!”
“This is my money – I earned it – I deserve it – and I am not going to give any of it away!”
This is clearly a heart that doubts יהוה’s ability to provide! How about things like:
“If I don’t take care of myself, no one else will!”
“What has anyone ever done for me?”
These are expressions of zero gratitude and a stingy heart which can and never will understand the ability of having an extravagant overflowing heart. This was Yehuḏah’s (Judas’) heart and he betrayed יהושע!
Miryam on the other hand represents a pure extravagant heart which is not a taker but rather a giver who has an open and generous heart. She gave what she had and honoured יהושע in her extravagant act of worship!
What struck me most this week about this passage was the words that יהושע used in reference to here extravagant act, and that was, “What she had, she used!”… “What she had, she used!” That is so powerful and literally sums up what extravagant worship unto our Maker is all about! Using that which you have – in fact Dawiḍ writes in Tehillim/Psalms that everything that has breath praise יהוה! We all have breath, right!!! Well Praise יהוה! There is no excuse for us to worship Him – we do have the minimum requirements – breath! Miryam did what she knew to do with what she had!!!
This was her reasonable service as she understood something about His mercy and His love for her and the price he was about to pay for her that she gave her all:
Romiyim 12:1-2 “I call upon you, therefore, brothers, through the compassion of Elohim, to present your bodies a living offering – set-apart, well-pleasing to Elohim – your reasonable worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you prove what is that good and well-pleasing and perfect desire of Elohim.”
She was not conformed to the way everyone else thought, she was transformed by the very Living Elohim!
She took all she had – an expensive jar of nard, a very expensive pure and genuine perfume from a root plant in India that was worth at least a year’s wages. It was around this festival that it was common tradition to take care of the poor and needy and this act of extravagant love was highly criticised by the others led of course by Yehuḏah (Judas), claiming they could have used that money for the poor which he would never have done, knowing his character. יהושע tells them however that she had just anointed Him for burial!
The word used for ‘wasted’ in verse 4 is the same Greek word ‘apoleia’ (G684) used in Yoḥanan/John 17:12 in describing Yehuḏah (Judas) as the son of destruction/perdition. You see Miryam was not the waster, Yehuḏah was! He wasted his opportunities given him by Elohim and eventually wasted his life by committing suicide! Here in this account we see a direct contrast between Yehuḏah (Judas) the traitor – the one who wasted that which he was given and Miryam the worshipper – who used what she had and worshipped in Spirit and in Truth!
Let us now look at what this kind of extravagant worship we are speaking of requires:
1 – MY TOTAL TRUST IN יהוה
Miryam understood the very person and work of יהושע, well at least to some degree we must note as she seemingly had some greater discernment to the times, even though not maybe fully understanding everything she certainly had put her total trust in His Words and the more time she spent with Him at His feet listening to His sweet Words the more she was convinced of His True worth and her unworthiness! Isn’t that how we are growing as we speak? The more we learn of His True worth and worthiness that He alone is worthy of the more we realise just how unworthy we are and how great is His favour and loving-commitment is toward us! You see worship is not a matter of me coming to ‘give’ something of my own so that Elohim will be impressed with me, no, it is a matter of being so impressed with Elohim and His love for us that I bring everything I have to Him as an expression of His worth with what I have – that I use it all for Him! This is a placing of trust in Him and Him alone, not worried about what may come or what the World may say, but pure extravagant worship requires a total trust in Him!
2 – MY IMMEDIATE INVOLVEMENT
Miryam seized the opportunity – she did what she could! She did not wait for a “next time I’ll do it or get to it” approach – it was an immediate involvement of worship!
Eph‘siyim/Ephesians 5:15-16 “See then that you walk exactly, not as unwise, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are wicked.”
Many of us today are all too quick at making excuses, some even believing that the excuses are really valid ones, as to why we won’t worship יהוה with our all – with our time, our talents and yes our treasure – right now! Waiting for some ‘perfect’ condition may in fact just see you never getting anything done and your ability to worship extravagantly never come to pass!
Extravagant worship calls for a now worship – stop procrastinating and simply worship! She anointed His body for burial! Don’t you know that we are the body – a people who have died to self and are raised to new life in Messiah! What are you doing to bring what you have in being used for the ‘body’ of Messiah to walk fully in the anointing of the Spirit?
The time is now – to give your all – why wait – for what – it may just be too late – get worshipping in the body now!!!
3 – MY PERSONAL PARTICIPATION
This is what I am talking about – most of the time the majority of us will tend to wait for someone else to do ‘it’ – whatever the required ‘it’ may be! But what extravagant worship does is it gets participating not waiting for others – ‘here I am send me!’ Willing to step out and step up to the joy of extravagantly living your all for the One who gave His all for you! Miryam stepped out and did something so extravagant to demonstrate her devoted trust and love to יהושע. Her worship was not an orchestrated formula or event driven by man – it was personal and real – she took what she had to give and gave it all for the esteem of יהושע. Wow – how sad it is when many simply wait to be told what to do, as they are shoved in to a box forced to perform doctrinal duties based on man’s concerted effort at arranging a form of worship that has no power, when what is simply required in ‘personal’ participation that calls for each one getting ‘personal’ in their worship unto יהושע giving their utmost unto Him, no matter the cost!
4 – MY COMPLETE COMMITMENT
Pure extravagant love does not look for the next bargain to save some expense! There was a man who wanted to get a really great perfume for his wife and went to the store and asked for the best they had – after all it was for his wife! The clerk brought out a R2500.00 tiny bottle to which he said that was too much and asked for something a little less expensive – the clerk brought another bottle costing R1500.00. Still it was too much and this went on for a while, eventually at a bottle for R25.00 he still said don’t you have anything cheap here? Getting annoyed with the clerk he turned to her and said, ‘I would like to see something really cheap!’ The clerk handed him a mirror!
May we, when we look in to the mirror of His Word not be found to be looking cheap in our worship unto Him – cheap worship is not complete commitment! The alabaster jar was sealed with a long neck that the only way to get the expensive perfume out was to break the neck and pour it out after which the rest could not be saved for later! I love the picture of this as it speaks of great humility! We cannot give Him our all in extravagant worship if we are stiff-necked and full of pride unable to be broken by His Word – the very Word that will heal, build, teach, reproof, set straight and train in righteousness. Complete commitment will cost you! The perfume was expensive but that did not matter to Miryam. A repeated picture we see right through Scripture is the willingness by those faithful few who gave their all to Elohim – think of Aḇraham – Yitsḥaq – Yehoshua – Dawiḍ to name a few – and here we see Miryam. Sha’ul even said that he counted everything as refuse all that which he may have ‘lost’ for the sake of Messiah! How about you?
What is it that may just be holding you back from giving complete committed worship? Are there things that you may be holding on to – things that are keeping you from committed worship and fellowship in His Body – be it a possession, a habit, a person, a career or even a hobby? Extravagant worship calls for you all!
5 – MY FIXED FOCUS
Fix our eyes on the Prince and Perfecter of our faith – a fixed focus – a 20/20 vision for His word with no grey areas of compromise – that is fixed focus! Who cares what others may think? So focused on יהושע, Miryam was not in the least phased by the comments and chirps the other had to say toward her. Dawiḍ too was not phased at what others had to say in regards to his extravagant worship:
Shemuʼĕl Bet/2 Samuel 6:21-22 “So Dawiḍ said to Mikal, “Before יהוה, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of יהוה, over Yisra’ĕl, so I danced before יהוה. 22“And I shall be even more slight than this, and shall be humble in my own eyes. But as for the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I am esteemed.”
Expressing extravagant worship may cause others to feel threatened – this we know – but at the same time extravagant worship is infectious in a good way! The consequences or effects of her extravagant worship were:
A – The whole house was filled with the beautiful fragrance of the ointment – Sha’ul said that to some we may be the fragrance of death and to others life:
Qorintiyim Bet/2 Corinthians 2:14-17 “But thanks be to Elohim who always leads us on, to overcome in Messiah, and manifests through us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 Because we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death to death, and to the other the fragrance of life to life. And who is competent for these? 17 For we are not, as so many, adulterating the Word of Elohim for gain – but as of sincerity, but as from Elohim, in the sight of Elohim, we speak in Messiah.”
May our worship be truly extravagant and be a sweet aroma that fills our homes and lives with a pleasing fragrance of an acceptable living sacrifice!
B – Criticism may come even from within! Led by Yehuḏah (Judas) the rest of the disciples criticised her actions and the word used here in the Greek in verse 5 for scolding speaks of an ugly murmuring and is also used to describe the snorting of a horse – get the picture? They were ugly and cruel criticising her obedience. The one who criticised the most – Yehuḏah (Judas) had the biggest mouth – yet he wasted his life – beware of the big mouths and the big commentators of criticisms!!!
C – Commendation of the King!
יהושע commended Miryam and accepted her pure gift and he defended her. Mo matter what others may have to say about obedient living according to His Torah and how we live our lives of pure worship and service – the most important thing to remember is that we seek always to please Elohim! Others may misunderstand us and criticise us but that should not keep us from showing our love for Messiah!
The question I ask all of you here tonight as we are about to keep the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is a question of your worship – looking intently into the Word as His plumb line what do you see? Have you or will you be extravagant in your life of worship giving your all or has compromise had a way of settling in to your lifestyle? Miryam used what she had and when I was meditating upon this I was quickly reminded of Mosheh where in Shemoth/Exodus 4:2 he was asked by יהוה, “What is in your hand?” and this is what we are speaking about here – Miryam used what she had and so I ask you tonight – what do you have? This question to Moshe was to get Moshe to focus on what he had as opposed to what he did not have, yet he was afraid to use that which he had, and in order to answer the question he had to look back at his life and see how his training in both leadership and shepherding had prepared him to now shepherd Yisra’ĕl out of bondage and on toward the Promised Land. The ‘rod’ in his hand was what he would use. Rod also means ‘tribe’ and so יהוה would put the tribes of Yisra’ĕl in Moshe’s hand to shepherd – a task he thought he was not ready for – yet יהוה showed him that that which he has used in obedience would be sufficient! It is interesting to note that the root meaning of ‘rod’ (matteh in Hebrew) is ‘to stretch out’ and so the picture we can get from this in line with tonight’s message is simply this; if we do not live our lives as ‘Hebrews’ meaning ‘crossed over ones’ as we have been called out of darkness into His marvellous light – if we do not live as those who have crossed over from darkness into light and do not live as children of light then we cannot be called ‘Hebrews’ (ones who have crossed over – from darkness to light) and are not of the seed of Aḇraham by faith!
We are to ‘stretch out’ and live for our Master and Saviour יהושע Messiah with all that we have!
What is in your hand? Is what you are grasping something useless or are you holding that which he has given you freely and are you using it rightly – that is for Him – for His Body – for His Kingdom? Or have the gifts themselves become the focus as opposed to giving your all to the Giver of the gifts?
What Miryam did was a ‘good work’. There are 2 words in the Greek for good – There is ‘agathos’ which describes a thing that is morally good and then there is ‘kalos’ which describes a thing which is not only good but lovely. A thing might be ‘agathos’ and yet it can be hard, stern, austere, and even unattractive. Justice, ethics, and honour can fall into this category. They are good and necessary but they are rigid and sometimes can be unmerciful and hurtful.
But a thing can be ‘kalos’ and it is winsome and lovely and have a certain appeal to it. That is exactly what Miryam did. Love does not do only good things, love does lovely things.
• If love is true, there will always be some extravagance about it.
• If love can see, there will be a sense of recklessness that comes with it.
• If love is alive, it will not calculate, in fact if it gave everything, the gift would be too small.
Will you with that which He has given you – that very ointment of His sweet fragrance deposited in you – will you break open and be extravagant in your worship unto Him – even when the world may call it a waste of time?
As we approach His Feasts may we truly get out the leaven from our lives – and live a life unto him that displays unashamedly the extravagance of pure worship, un afraid of what others may think using that which we have – and we have His very Ruach – His very Word inside of us – will you too do the good works prepared in advance for you to do!!!
Let us not become contaminated with compromise and end up like Yehuḏah (Judas) but rather be found to be like Miryam who gives her all and will not settle for anything than her best in her extravagance of pure worship causing the sweet fragrance of sacrificial obedient living to fill His House, aměn!