Sermons We See

Theme: Demonstrating our love for Jesus. 5th Sunday in Lent - Year C
Object: You could use a bottle of perfume or a picture of Charles Spurgeon.
Scripture: Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 (NIV)

Charles Spurgeon is considered to be one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. In fact, he is sometimes called the "Prince Among Preachers." Even though Spurgeon died over a hundred years ago, people still read his sermons to this day.

According to a story I read, Spurgeon and his wife owned chickens and would sell the eggs their chickens laid. They refused to give the eggs away. Even close relatives were expected to pay for any eggs which they got from the Spurgeons. As a result, some people thought the Spurgeons were selfish and greedy.

The Spurgeons accepted this criticism without defending themselves, and only after Mrs. Spurgeon died was the full story revealed. The Spurgeons never spent one penny of that egg money on themselves. Every penny that the Spurgeons made from the sale of their eggs went to support two elderly widows. Even though he never even mentioned it from the pulpit, that story may have been one of the greatest sermons Spurgeon ever preached. The story reminds me of a poem entitled "Sermons We See," part of which goes like this:

I'd rather see a sermon
than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me
than merely tell the way.

And the best of all the preachers
are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action
is what everybody needs. [1]

"I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day." In our Bible story today, we will see how a woman named Mary put her love for Jesus into action for everyone to see.

Jesus was visiting in the home of Mary and Martha whose brother, Lazarus, Jesus had recently raised from the dead. As they sat visiting with Jesus, Mary took a bottle of perfume and poured it on the feet of Jesus. Then she knelt and dried his feet with her hair. Now, this perfume wasn't like the perfume we might buy at the store for a few dollars. It was very expensive. In fact, the Bible says it was worth about a year's wages. This perfume was Mary's most prized possession, the best she had to give. While other people talked about their love for Jesus, Mary showed her love by her actions. She poured her most prized possession on the feet of Jesus.

You might think that others would be impressed that Mary would pour out such expensive perfume on the the feet of Jesus, but that was not the case. In fact, she was criticized. Judas, who later betrayed Jesus, said, "We could have sold this perfume for a year's wages and given the money to the poor." The truth is, Judas didn't care about the poor, the Bible says that as the keeper of the money bag, he often helped himself to that money for his own personal use.

Two people -- Judas and Mary. One talked about helping the poor while the other showed us the importance of giving our best for Jesus. I don't know about you, but "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day."

Dear Father, help us to demonstrate our love for you, not in words, but in our actions. Help us to be a sermon that other people can see. Amen.

[1] Collected Verse of Edgar Guest, NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, pg. 599

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