Alabaster: Day 2, Monday
"And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”" - Mark 14:3-9
This is the only occasion, at least in most of our English translations, that Jesus refers to something as “beautiful.” Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, has saved up a year of wages and bought a jar made of alabaster (similar to marble) filled with a perfumed oil typically reserved for kings. And in a single moment, Mary breaks the jar and pours its costly contents onto the head of Jesus. In a single moment, Mary’s savings are spent with no return on investment.
It’s true what the indignant said – that jar of ointment could have been sold and given to the poor. What waste! What foolishness! And yet, Jesus calls it a “beautiful thing.” Why? What is it about the breaking of this jar that deems it more appropriate than providing a poor family with meals for a year? Consider at least two things.
First, it is beautiful because it is an act of faith. I say that because verse 8 specifically tells us that she “anointed my body beforehand for burial.” All twelve disciples were gathered around Jesus, and not one of them saw what was coming. Jesus was not heading into Jerusalem to kill, but to die. They were still choosing to believe their own version of Jesus, not God’s version. Mary alone, having the eyes of faith to see his impending death, anointed him with this perfumed ointment. Such a pleasing aroma was often used to mask the odor of the dead, which makes Jesus’ immersion in it crushingly appropriate. Mary believed Jesus when he had said he would be crucified.
Second, it is beautiful because it is an act of costly worship, and nothing is more befitting of the Son of God, moments before he gives his life up for the sins of the world, than worship. This is no ordinary night, nor is it an ordinary man. The “indignant” ones are dead wrong. Has there ever been a more appropriate act? Has worship ever been more appropriate or money better spent? Apparently not, or else Jesus wouldn’t have commanded that this moment be included in the Gospels (verse 9).
Do you have the eyes of faith to see why Jesus Christ is worthy of worship? Does a life of worshipful obedience to him seem too radical, burdensome, or worse, like a waste? It ought not. If worshiping him at great cost does not seem entirely appropriate and sensible, labor to see him for who he truly is – to believe in him – and then the worship and obedience will follow more naturally, flowing from faith. And that is a beautiful thing.
1/15/2023 07:13:57 am
Thannk you for writing this
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This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.