Before Maundy Thursday and The Last Supper, there was the Banquet in Bethany to Honor Jesus. While 3 different versions of this story appear in the Gospels, I like to merge them together in my mind and come up with an anointing banquet for Jesus that teaches us all how to worship him. Extravagantly!

The next “banquet” that Jesus attends will be in The Upper Room with his disciples, to teach us another lesson about His eternal presence being with all of us even when He is physically not with us. That’s a lesson in spirituality.

But the lesson of the Banquet at Bethany is about worship. In John’s version (12:1-8), it is Jesus’s friend Mary who demonstrates the proper way to worship Jesus. Mary lets down all personal inhibitions and social norms so that her worship of Him in this place, at this moment, is completely free of hesitation and restriction. Mary worships Jesus in a totally unique and extravagant manner in front of all who have gathered for this special occasion.

  For this worship service, Mary chooses to anoint the feet of Jesus with extravagant oils from an alabaster jar. The oils are powerfully pungent and fill the room with an aroma that bombards the senses of all who are there. There is no ignoring what Mary is doing!  

 The first thing that most in the room are thinking is the poor decision to waste such expensive oil on the feet of Jesus. This simply reminds us that monetary cost will always be a human concern when it comes to celebratinig extravagant worship. Judas, and others, make play that they are more concerned with the poor, and the value of those oils could have been much more useful if sold and the profits used to help them. And that would have been a thoughtful ministry. But, as Jesus tells those who put cost first, there are times when extravagant worship is called for … and this is one of those times.

Now that the room is filled with the strong aromas of the oils, and everyone’s attention is centered on Mary and Jesus, she continues her worship of Him. Mary lets down her long dark hair and begins to rub in the oils on Jesus’s feet as she massages them with her hair. You see, no worship is too extravagant for Jesus … in Mary’s mind. It would be impossible to go overboard in her show of praise and love for Him. 

What Jesus knows that Mary doesn’t is that after this week, Jesus will no longer be making visits to see his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. After the extravagance of this anointing banquet, Jesus will have another meal, in Jerusalem, on the eve of Passover, to teach another lesson about who He is. Let’s leave that aside for now … but, as for this night, on this Holy Wednesday, these questions are now put before us: 

  • How extravagant is your worship of Jesus? 
  • Why would anything, including cost, social norms, and public ridicule, hold you back from worshiping Him with all you have … just as you love Him with all you have? 
  • What if this Holy Wednesday is your banquet at Bethany opportunity – what would you do of uninhibited extravagance to show all those around you how much Jesus means to you? 
  • If you knew tomorrow was The Upper Room, what would you do today to honor Jesus with your worship?

As for me, today I’m going to check my worship mentality. Is my worship of Jesus more determined by practical concerns and social norms – or am I completely free and natural in my own unique and uninhibited style of extravagant worship?

Why is this important?

Well, Easter’s a comin’ – and I want to get it right this time! 

Meet me at the banquet in Bethany,

Pastor <>< Bob