JOHN | Where True Worship Begins { DAY TWELVE }



“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

Growing up, there really wasn’t a lot of hand raising in my church. In fact, as a child, the first time I saw someone raise their hand during a song, I thought they had a question!

As a painfully shy child I remember being intrigued by a woman who dared to extend her arms in worship. She seemed so free, so unconcerned with what others thought. For weeks after first seeing her, I would methodically lift my arm during church—just a few inches away from my side, before letting it fall back down again. It took years for me to work up the courage to publicly reach my hand toward the Savior I so love. Yet, I’ve come to learn that whether we raise hands, clap hands, or shake hands in a service, God is far more concerned with the posture of our hearts than with the position of our hands.

God is far more concerned with the posture of our hearts in worship than the position of our hands. Click To Tweet

This is clearly seen in the account of Mary of Bethany’s fragrant worship as she anointed Jesus’ feet. Mary, having just witnessed Jesus bring her brother back from the dead, was in attendance at a dinner party thrown in Jesus’ honor. And although there was no guitar nor lyric sheet in sight, she was soon to engage in pure, authentic and beautiful worship of the One who was everything to her.

Mary walked into the room, knelt at Jesus’ feet and broke open that which was surely her most prized possession—a costly alabaster jar full of fragrant perfume. The perfume, which may have been designated for her own burial someday, was lavishly poured out over Jesus’ feet. As the disciples rebuked and condemned her, Mary anointed Jesus’ living body for His impending death. For Mary got it.

Whereas the disciples were continually arguing and bickering over status and position in Jesus’ kingdom, Mary (through the prompting of the Holy Spirit) had understood the inconceivable—that the Messiah must die in order to bring life.


And so Mary did the only thing she knew to do, she anointed His precious body—she worshiped her Savior—for Who He truly is. And it was beautiful to Him { Matthew 26:10 }

Mary’s humble, devoted worship stands in sharp contrast to the worship that occurred the very next day as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. At first glance, it appears as though the entire city is worshipping Jesus. He is being cheered for, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The crowd celebrates and welcomes their king. Their hands lift palm fronds in worship and adoration.

However, whereas Mary of Bethany worshipped Jesus for who He was, the people in Jerusalem worshipped Jesus for who they wanted Him to be.

Worship Jesus for Who He is, not what you want Him to be.

The people wanted a warrior king to free them from Roman rule, yet Jesus came as a humble King to free us from the grip of sin.

They wanted a political king to give them power, yet Jesus came as a servant King to give us access to God the Father.

They wanted a conquering king to give them position, yet Jesus came as a sacrificing King to give His life for ours.

And so the people turned on Him. Shouts of “Hosanna” morphed into shouts of “Crucify Him.”

They worshipped their idea of Jesus. Mary worshipped the person of Jesus.

Whether we are hand raisers, amen shouters, or quiet sitters, let’s keep our hearts and minds fixed on the one true God—on who God really, truly is. For that is where true worship begins.


  • Do you feel free in your worship of Jesus? If not, what is it that hinders you?
  • Jesus does not expect us all to worship Him the same way, but He does desire that we worship Him for Who He truly is. Prayerfully consider any misconceptions you might have about Jesus. Are you worshipping Him for who He is, or who you desire Him to be?
  • Mary did not need a worship service in order to lavish her worship on Jesus. What are some practical ways that you could maintain an attitude of worship, no matter where you are, this week?


King Jesus, You alone are worthy of our worship. You are so much higher and greater than we could ever fully comprehend. Lord, we confess that so many times we allow other things to distract us from true worship, and sadly many times we worship our idea of You instead of worshipping You as You truly are. We long to worship You in spirit and in truth. Make us a people of worship. In Jesus Name, amen.




Jennifer Bleakley
Jennifer Bleakley
I’m Jen, a wife of 18 years and mom of two—a teen boy and an almost tween girl. Born and raised in FL, I have called North Carolina home for the past 14 years, but am still a flip-flop girl at heart. I am passionate about studying, teaching, writing and speaking about the Bible, and the Hope found in Jesus. If I am not hanging with my family, tossing a ball for our golden retriever, or typing on my well-used computer, I am most likely buried under a mountain of laundry! I am excited to join you on this wonderful adventure through God’s Word.

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