Summary: In looking at the events leading up to the crucifixion we find that there were some things that were broken. Let's look into some of these and see what we can take away from them.
BROKEN (part one)
In looking at the events leading up to the crucifixion we find that there were some things that were broken. Let's look into some of these and see what we can take away from them.
1) The broken jar.
Mark 14:3-9, "While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as 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. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
We learn from John's account that the woman here is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. And we see that her costly sacrifice was met with harsh criticism. We also learn from John that the main critic was Judas. However, he didn't really care about the poor, he was upset that he lost an opportunity to get his hands on some of the money this would've generated since, as the treasurer, he would dip his hands in the till from time to time.
And Jesus came to her defense. His statement about the poor didn't mean he didn't care about them, but that this incident was unique and timely and there would be plenty of other opportunities to help the poor once he was gone.
Sometimes our generosity will be met with criticism. "Why did you give that away? You could've sold it for a lot of money?" And we might be tempted to regret our decision. But when we are confident that our sacrifice resulted from being prompted by the Holy Spirit then we don't have to second guess our choices.
"She did what she could". Jesus didn't say this to mean what she did was small in value or importance. Quite the opposite. He said it was beautiful. It's doubtful she was rich and that this perfume was no big sacrifice. On the contrary. A year's wages is significant. Think about taking a year's wages and giving it to the Lord.
She did all she could and no more; she gave all she could and no less. Do we give Jesus our all? I'm not talking about money, I'm talking about devotion and service; sacrificing our time and resources. We might think we're doing all we can but if we allow the Holy Spirit to challenge that we might realize there's more we should be doing.
However, we're not expected to do more than we can. Sometimes we do too much or we get frustrated that we can't do what others do. Some people might be better suited for certain things or have more time to serve. We shouldn't get caught up in making comparisons but neither should we settle for doing less than we ought to be, either.
Do we give Jesus what he deserves or do we just give him what we're comfortable with? This perfume was precious and valuable but Jesus was more precious and valuable. I don't know if she contemplated turning around and not going through with it while she was on her way but she knew once she broke the seal on that jar there was no going back.
"To prepare me for my burial". This woman was sent by God to do this. Jesus was to die a criminal's death. Normally, when someone died they would be anointed with aromatic oils. But this wasn't the practice when a criminal was executed. Jesus knew this, hence his words about her preparing him for burial. Since the typical anointing was not going to take place, God sent her to anoint Jesus beforehand.
And on an interesting note, this incident occurred only a few days before Jesus' arrest. With this very expensive and aromatic perfume it would have stayed fragrant for a long while. It's very conceivable that while Jesus was going through his torture and crucifixion this fragrance would've stayed with him. It would've been a very nice counter to the stench of blood and sweat.
And during his time of suffering, when a warm breeze brought the beautiful fragrance to his nostrils it would invoke the fond memory of this dear lady's sacrifice and love. This lingering blessing would serve as a precious distraction to the agony and repugnant surroundings Jesus was enduring.