Hello Church family,
This week the entire Christian world directs its’ attention to the events of Jesus’ last week of life on earth. By the end of this week in history, our savior will pour out his life in one final act of self-sacrifice on the cross, and then be resurrected in glory on the third day. One event which took place during that last week of his 3 ½ year ministry is recorded for us in the gospel accounts of both Mark and John. Reading from John’s account:
John 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” 9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. (NIV)
Mary’s generous way of remembering her Lord before his time of intense suffering involved the gift of an expensive oil known as nard, or spikenard from early biblical times. It is listed among several other herbs and spices treasured for their fragrance in the Song of Solomon. Nardostachys jatamansi, of the family of Valeriance, was grown in India and the Far East and imported by traders. The costliness of Mary’s offering can be seen in Judas vocal objection. (Mark says that more than one of the disciples was angry with her.)
Why did Mary have this expensive perfume on hand? Some have suggested she may have been saving it for her wedding day. Others think perhaps she laid up for a rainy day. Jesus reminded the disciples that God intended it be preserved for this occasion. Mary did what she could with what she had. He would offer a costly love, and she would offer a costly love. It was an extravagant gesture, and, at least in part, an expression of deep appreciation. Jesus had just raised her brother Lazarus from the dead! (John 11:43) He had just answered the powerful desire of both sisters after they believed it was too late for even hope – Their brother was dead, and now he is alive and well!
For this family Jesus last week of life on earth held a unique and powerful testimony to his very purpose for coming to earth at all. To give us something out of love which we cannot give ourselves – Real life, eternal life in relationship to the Father and through the Spirit. It was within His power and within His desire to do this. It was within Mary’s power and her desire to pour this perfume on his feet and wipe them with her hair. As we search our own hearts this week I ask you to think about two things: First, in surveying your life and your concerns, what do you need most from Him this week? And second, What is within your power to give to Him?
Your pastor & brother,