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 (Manna 52: Spiritual Renewal)
A Beautiful Thing
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Adapted sermon by HH Ko—Heidelberg, Germany

There are many beautiful things in the world. Sometimes, beautiful things occur in poetry and in song. Beautiful things often happen in peace and harmony. But a beautiful thing recorded in the Bible wasn’t like this.

            After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.” (Mk 14:1, 2)

This was a horrifying moment. The authorities at the time, the chief priests and scribes, tried to capture Jesus. They wanted to arrest Jesus, but dared not to. Later, Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus to the authorities (Mk 14:10-11). The twelve disciples spent three years with Jesus. They were chosen and trained by Jesus. Yet one of them betrayed Him.

We may tolerate the fact that the chief priests and scribes schemed to kill Jesus, but when we see that Judas betrayed Him, it is quite horrifying. After spending three years with Jesus, he should have had some emotional ties with Him. Jesus continually showed His love to the disciples; yet we see Judas.

Within this terrible environment, we see a beautiful thing.

            And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Mk 14:3-9)

Many beautiful things have come and gone in history. But this beautiful thing is passed down with the gospel.

Why is this thing beautiful?


“But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me’” (v. 6). It was a beautiful thing because it was done unto Jesus. It was a beautiful thing done on Christ.

Many people work hard for their own goals. Some begin with one dollar and become influential business leaders. Some begin with a few books, and through hard work become famous or receive the Nobel Prize. These are beautiful and touching achievements.

But no matter how virtuous, influential, or great people are, they disappear. Because this world will pass. Even if a name remains in humanity forever, humanity will come to pass. Without humanity, great figures are nothing. But a beautiful thing done on Jesus will remain forever, because the Lord is everlasting.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites willingly sacrificed. But they had to bring the offering to the tabernacle. If they simply offered the calves in their own houses, that would not count. The first step is to bring the sacrifice to the tabernacle, to the priest.

All of us have a heart to offer. We all want to do beautiful things. But we have to remind ourselves, are we doing it to Jesus? This woman put the perfume onto Jesus. We know that the body of Christ is the church (Eph 1:22-23). What we do unto the church, we do unto Christ.

We also do it unto brothers and sisters (Mt 25:45-46). What we do to the smallest brother, we do to Jesus Christ. But do not forget your own family. Our homes are also the body of Christ. The Bible tells us if we do not take care of our family, we are worse than the unbelievers. The body of Christ is the church, the brothers and sisters in church, and our own family. We must treat Jesus right. It is a beautiful thing to do unto Jesus.


She did all she could

“‘She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial’” (v. 8). She did what she could. We all love God. No one will say “I do not love the Lord.” But do we love the Lord with all our might? It is a problem of degree. This was a beautiful thing because she did everything she could. She may not have had a great quantity of perfume. But her quality was beautiful. How do we know that she did all she could? Verse three records she broke the alabaster flask.

Many times when we serve God, we do it in portions according to our considerations, and not with all our might. Why did the woman need to break the flask? If she hadn’t broken the flask, she could have controlled how much to give to Jesus. Perhaps she could have anointed Jesus again later. But this is not doing all you can. She offered everything she had without reservation. She was willing to sacrifice this perfume. She gave it all to Jesus.

In the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira did not sacrifice their all; they secretly held some back. We all love God, but how much do we love God? We should not save anything for ourselves. This woman broke the flask without reservations.

We see that she offered the perfume at the right occasion. “‘For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always’” (v. 7). Sometimes, opportunities are fleeting. This was not the only perfume in the world. Even though the perfume may have been expensive at the time (costing a year’s wages), every girl owned one because it was used at the time of marriage.

Every girl owned a flask of perfume, but only one flask was poured on Jesus. Jesus only died once, and perfume can only be used once. She used the whole flask of perfume on Jesus. This was perfect timing.

She had a watchful heart

Sometimes, we lose the chance. Mark 16:1-6 records how three women who loved God wanted to anoint Jesus’ body. These women often supported Jesus financially (cf. Lk 8:2-3). They used their own savings to support Jesus; they were well to do. Their spices and perfumes weren’t less costly than the woman’s. But Jesus had no use for them. Jesus had already resurrected—their perfume had become useless. After the time has passed, no matter how expensive or how great the perfume, it is all in vain.

God gives us the opportunity. But we must have a watchful heart to sacrifice.

If this woman was the Mary who sat before Jesus (cf. Jn 11:2), then she truly understood Jesus’ word. While her sister Martha was busy preparing food for Jesus, she quietly sat before Jesus to listen to the word (Lk 10:38-40). And she took it all in. Listening to the word of God is a blessing promised in the Old Testament.


            “Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words.” (Deut 33:3)

This is the perfect description of Mary. She sat at Jesus’ feet and received instruction. This was done by one whom God loves.

Mary kept the word in her heart. Only those who have the word of God can truly hold on to the opportunity. The opportunity is there for everybody, but do we know how important it is? Our lives are just like this. While we live, do we serve the Lord? Does Jesus use us? If not, our chance will pass (Eccl 12:1).

In our lives we have many opportunities to do good. We can help the poor every day, and even if we spend all we have, we cannot help everyone. We only have a few chances to do unto Jesus. Like Mary, we must hold onto the truth and grasp the opportunity with a watchful heart. When the time passes, we could buy a ton of perfume and it would be useless. While we’re still healthy and have strength, do it unto Jesus.

While you’re young and can still do so, honor your parents. Don’t wait until your parents have passed away and say, “I should have treated them better.” At home while you still can, love your husband, love your wife. And in church, brothers and sisters should love one another.

When the opportunity passes, we have nothing. It is a beautiful thing to take the opportunity.


The most beautiful part of this beautiful thing was that Mary was quiet. Mary offered to Jesus. It had nothing to do with other people. Yet they were indignant, and even called her wasteful. “‘For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they criticized her sharply” (v. 5).

The men not only showed their anger, they rebuked Mary. The environment was quite harsh. But Mary remained silent. In her silence she overcame the others’ anger. She knew that she was offering to God.

We may think that those who are silent will be taken advantage of. Many kids cause trouble because they want attention. Those who are quiet and have peace in their hearts are often forgotten.

But when you do unto Jesus, it will not be forgotten. Jesus knows everything. He knows it. If you do not speak, Jesus will speak for you. It is worthless to stand up for ourselves. In verse six Jesus says, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her?” Jesus knew that the people were not worried about Him. They did not really care for the poor; they cared for their own interests. Jesus knew they were all hypocrites. How valuable were the words He spoke for Mary!

Don’t be afraid. As long as you’re doing a beautiful thing unto Jesus, let Jesus speak for you.

Moses did so. God was with him (cf Num 12). Moses spoke to God face to face. And jealousy came from his older sister who loved him when he was a baby, and his older brother who spoke for him. We may be able to withstand criticism from others, but it is harder if it comes from our own flesh and blood.

But Moses didn’t speak. He was attacked by his own brother and sister, but God spoke for him. And the Bible records that Moses was “very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Num 12:3). He was humble and gentle. In his great time of difficulty, he said nothing. But God said something. God rebuked his brother and sister. Complaining for yourself is useless because it might raise opposition against you. Then your beautiful deed won’t be beautiful anymore.

You have done it unto Jesus. You have offered your all. You were close to Jesus and were able to seize the opportunity. You have done so. Since you have done so, say nothing. Because what you have done is right. You must overlook what other people say.

The external factors were quite terrifying. The Pharisees and the priests wanted to kill Jesus. Judas was about to betray Jesus. Within that feast were unhappy and angry people.

But this was a beautiful thing—because Mary had peace in her heart, she overcame the obstacles of the world. So take a deep breath. That perfume from 2000 years ago is still fragrant within your heart.

This is a beautiful thing.

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Author: HH Ko