As the liquid began to boil in the stew Martha turned to her sister. “I sure do appreciate your help, Mary. This is quite a group of men we have here, today.”
Mary looked from the bread she just pulled out of the oven to the next room. “There’s something I just gotta do.”
Martha shook her head. “That’s okay. I can get it from here.”
Mary pulled a chair over to the high shelf and pulled a box down. She moved some things aside and gently lifted the alabaster jar.
Martha stood in the doorway. “It’s a good thing Abba isn’t here. You know you’re supposed to save that for your wedding night.”
Mary inspected the delicate vase. “I have saved it, for right now.”
Mary tucked the jar in her garment and walked into the room where the men were assembled. Some men were laughing while others shook their heads at the end of one of Jesus’ stories. She didn’t notice the silence as she walked behind Jesus and brought the vessel out.
Her thumb broke through the top of the jar and spikenard flowed onto Jesus’ feet. The aroma quickly filled the house. Mary searched for a towel. Her hair sufficed for a substitute.
When she looked up Jesus was still facing the men. Their mouths hung open. She stood and poured the remainder of the perfume on Jesus’ head.
Jesus’ eyes closed as He absorbed the moment.
Judas Iscariot broke the silence. “Why wasn’t this expensive item sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor? This is an outrage!”
Jesus’ eyes came open. The look sent Judas backward. “Leave her alone! You’ll always have the poor around to do with as you see fit, but, I’m only here for a short time. I’ve tried to tell you my death is near, but, you’re all looking out for yourselves. She’s doing a noble thing here. That will not be taken away from her. She’s preparing my body for burial. Whenever this story is told in the future what she’s doing will be told as a memorial to her.”
Judas stood and left the room.
Extravagance wasn’t something Jesus’ disciples were used to. They’d spent the past few years plucking heads of grain from the fields they walked through for a snack. But, Jesus knew the time had come to begin His royal send-off.
As His final week on this planet unfolded He fended off other’s retaliations for their objections to people’s praise to Him. Remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees during the Triumphal Entry when they tried to get Jesus to tell the people to stop praising Him as the Messiah?
“If these people are quiet the rocks will cry out.”
You see, there is definitely a time to give Jesus all we’ve got. That’s what Mary was doing here.
To catch the full value of the lesson you have to stop thinking about a perfume bottle like we have today. Mary’s bottle didn’t have a stopper on it that could be replaced so the ointment could be used a little at a time.
The alabaster was formed around the oil while it was pliable. As it hardened it encased the expensive lotion for future use. Once the container was broken all of the contents would have to be used because there was no way to save it after that moment. It was an all-or-nothing proposition.
Jesus could have stopped her from using this perfume in this way, but, He knew there wouldn’t be enough time for anybody to properly prepare His body for burial after His crucifixion. So, He let Mary carry out this extravagance. Now was the time for such a show of love and admiration.
Judas had his own issues to deal with. They merely surfaced at this point. You see, his love and devotion to Jesus was on a totally different level than Mary’s. He was still looking for the kingdom to begin at any time. Jesus’ talk of His death brought Judas’ motives into question. He was tired of waiting on Jesus to act. He felt cornered with only one recourse.
So, where are you in that continuum? Are you looking for what you can get from Jesus, or what you can give to Him? Take a hard look at your motives before you answer.
Do you go to church looking to receive a blessing from the music or the message rather than looking to give someone else a blessing? There’s nothing wrong with gaining from the service, but, if that’s all you’re going to church for you may want to take some time to check your motivation.
Judas had been following Jesus along in poverty waiting for his chance to rule one of the tribes of Israel. The pay-off from all this suffering should be taking place. The money from the sale of that container would go a long way in funding the kingdom.
Mary’s heart longed to give Jesus her all. The perfume was likely one of the items her parents left her in her dowry for her wedding day. She couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than she loved Jesus, the man who stood up for her and raised her brother from the dead. How could anyone ever measure up to that?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time to soak in the delicacies offered at a worship service. But, there also comes a time to give back. People who have been saved a short time need to learn as much as they can to grow in their Christian walk. They need to be still and know God. If they are required to give back too soon they’ll lose their way.
People who have been saved a long time should be in a position to give back by teaching and mentoring others. It should be the motivation of every believer to grow to the point of giving back.
Give Jesus your all today.
I’ll see you later. Wade