John 12:3: “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
Here’s the big worship question for 2014: “Do we sing with a piano and a hymnal or with a praise band and a screen?” Music has become the biggest issue in most churches today. The “old folks” don’t want all of that “rock and roll music” in the church, and the “young folks” want to burn all of the hymnals in a bonfire behind the church.
Both sides of the fight are missing the real meaning of worship. When Mary knelt down to anoint Jesus with oil that cost her a year’s wages, she didn’t “grab a hymnal ” and turn to page 220. She didn’t lift her hands, dance, sway to the beat or shout “amen”. She simply knelt at the feet of Jesus. He was her everything, her whole purpose for being alive. Her worship had nothing to do with her. It had everything to do with Him.
Bryan Chapell, in his book Christ-Centered Worship, stressed that worship ought to be centered completely upon the Gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ. People complain about worship services, Chapell said, “Because they have not been taught to think of the worship service as having gospel purposes, people instinctively thinks of its elements only in terms of personal preference: what makes me feel good, comfortable, or respectful.”(p. 21) In other words, most church worship is “self-centered” when it ought to be “Jesus-centered”.
Mary’s worship was focused solely upon the Lord. As a result, her act of devotion is still talked about 2000 years later. The smell of that fragrant oil permeated the house where she worshiped Jesus. Regardless of whether our music is “traditional” or “contemporary”, when a church preaches the gospel of Jesus in worship, the fragrance of the oil can be smelled all over the house.