As I drive into work each morning I listen to a radio program taught by pastor, J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988). Through the Bible is a bit like listening to my grandma’s radio station, yet the teaching is sound and often makes me think on my drive. The messages have been working through the Gospel of Mark and today was Mark 14.
In Mark 14 Jesus is in His last days before the Cross. Time is short and yet, the messages taught during this time are far reaching and eternal. The passage that hit so powerfully today were verses 3-9:
While he [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Pastor McGee reflected that when Mary broke open that alabaster jar, the perfume of her gift has wafted across the centuries to us, as believers today. Just as Jesus said it would. When we read this passage we can see the sweet gift poured out on Jesus as Mary’s most sincere gift to Jesus. It was the most expensive gift, the best she could offer, all that she had. It was her version of the widow’s mite.
It made me start to wonder, what does it look like when we break open our alabaster boxes? Do we pour out all that we have, our most expensive, most dear items over Jesus? Are we entrusting Him with them?
Or are we hoarding our alabaster boxes and feigning interest in others? Are we claiming that it could be used for more noble causes, like Judas saying it could feed others if it had been sold (vs. 4-5)?
Is the truth of our hearts that we want to keep it for ourselves? Now before we get self-righteous, we need to realize we do it in big ways and small ways every day. We withhold our love because someone made us mad or hurt our feelings. We decide who is or isn’t deserving of our amazing gift. When really, God is the one who gave it to us in the first place.
O Best Beloved, let us not be stingy with the things we have to offer. Our example is Christ, who withheld nothing- not even His own life for us. Let us break open our boxes, jars, our very hearts, and share with others the sweet fragrance of God’s amazing love.