The woman walked to her cupboard and pulled out the alabaster box. The box had been in her family for years. It cost a year’s salary, but the precious spikenard fragrance inside was worth every penny. She carefully pulled the bottle from its safe place and held it close to her chest. It may have cost a lot of money, but to her it was priceless.
What she was about to do was so wasteful, so unnecessary, so impractical. It wouldn’t make any sense to anyone who was there, or even heard about it later. She never hesitated, didn’t think twice. She was so consumed with love that no sacrifice would be too high or cost too much.
She wasn’t going to sell the alabaster box, she was about to break it open and pour it out.
She walked into the room where Jesus was reclining at the dinner table, and approached the savior. She stands next to Jesus and crushes the precious box in her fingers. Immediately, a beautiful aroma fills the room as the precious oils and perfume inside the box spill out over Jesus’ head. The oil pours over his head, down through his beard, and onto his clothes. The aroma was intoxicating! She sops up some of the oil with her own hair and rubs Jesus’ feet with it.
Of course, there were some in the room who didn’t understand. They muttered under their breath, “What a waste. She could have sold that and given all of the money to the poor instead of just pouring it out…” Jesus, being Jesus, knew what was going on and spoke up, “Leave her alone. She has done something great. You will always have the poor, but you won’t always have me.”
A week later Jesus was crucified. As he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for his life, could he still smell the perfume? As the soldiers gambled for his clothes at the foot of the cross, could they still smell the lovely aroma of the sacrifice of Mary?
Mary understood what it meant to worship. She didn’t worry about the words of others. She wasn’t concerned about how she looked, or the expense, or the sacrifice. It was worth it all for Jesus. Nothing held her back, nothing stopped her. Worship was vital. Sacrifice was not sacrifice, it was giving. The whole incident was love at its most extreme.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the day to day grind that we forget to worship the one who gave us life. Following God seems so impractical, there are so many places where it just doesn’t make sense. Why would I give up my time to go to church? There are so many things I could be doing on Sunday morning. The NFL is on, and that means the Chargers may find a new way to throw away a game. I could change the air in my tires. So many important things..
And yet, as impractical as it seems, being a Christian is worth whatever it takes, and not just because it promises Heaven. My life is better every day because of my relationship with God. It makes me a better husband, a better person, it touches every aspect of my life. Being a Christian gives me hope through hard times, compassion for those who are hurting, and the promise that God is with me every step of the way.
What about you? What makes your life worthwhile? Are they things that will last forever, or just things that will last the weekend? The sacrifice of Mary seemed like such a waste, yet here it is almost 2000 years later and we still talk about it. That simple, impractical, loving act of devotion is still spoken of, preached about, and remembered.
There are a lot of people who give lip service to loving God. They say they love God, but they won’t sacrifice to serve him. They want heaven, but they are too wrapped up in their own lives to worship the God who offers it to them.
I want to worship and live so that my life has eternal consequences and dividends. Don’t you? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
Worshiping God with reckless abandon… Jerry