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“Believe it or not, she poured the whole pitcher on his head!”

January 29, 2018

7In my memory, one of the worst scenes to a social gathering in our home happened when a group of teens gathered for one of my mom’s meals.  Oh, the food was great and the conversations were hilarious.  It wasn’t really during the mealtime itself; it was afterwards when we all gathered in the front room of our home for a few final words from our youth pastor before everyone headed out for the night.

I must tell you that throughout the evening, Kim and John had been bickering at each other.  I don’t know whether it was light flirting or the two really didn’t like each other, but the teasing remained constant during the meal.

As we teens gathered in the front room ahead of the adult sponsors and youth pastor, Kim plopped down in an easy chair and called for her friend Marge to get her a can of Pepsi from the kitchen.  As Marge was toting the Pepsi into the front room, John grabbed it and shook it vigorously.  “Now, go ahead and open it,” he dared her.

She looked at him, popped the lid and lifted it over her head.

Pepsi sprayed everywhere, jets shooting out from under the half-opened tab.

On the teens. On the walls.  On the carpet.

I could hardly contain myself, I was so angry.  Worse yet, neither John nor Kim lifted a hand to help clean up.  Other kindly teens mopped up the mess.

That situation was a shock to us all, obviously.

But I just read about a bigger shock in another setting.

One of the happiest dinners in the man’s whole life was underway.

He was celebrating his new life.  He was no longer estranged from his wife and children.  People were no longer disgusted by him.  Churches no longer banned him.

He was clean.  He was free.  He had his life back, and more.  I cannot begin to understand the expression of profound joy and relief this man named Simon felt.

He was no longer a leper.  The town of Bethany had taken him back in, but his real happiness was in his encounter with the Messiah Himself, who healed him both physically and spiritually.  This man was now welcomed on Earth and would be welcomed in Heaven.

So he did what all of us middle-class Christians would do when we want to celebrate:  he expressed his joy with food.  He asked Jesus over for dinner, and wouldn’t you know it, Jesus came.  I bet there was some seriously good food brought out, spread across the table like a buffet.

Right before the whole event opened up into uproarious celebration, you’re not going to believe what happened.  A very calm woman stepped forward and approached the Guest of Honor without a word being said.   Most folks recognized her as Mary of the family of Martha and Lazarus.

But they didn’t expect what came next.

What was expected was the customary washing of feet before dinner.  After all, since you were reclining -as was the custom in those days – your feet would be in full view, and dirty, dusty feet would have been disgusting.  Washing the feet was a common pre-dinner occurrence, and a bit of perfume applied on the feet – just a touch – was a nice courtesy.

Mary went overboard.

She took an alabaster translucent-white vial of hugely expensive perfume of pure nard. Pure nard’s value, as stated in Mark chapter 14, was over three hundred days’ worth of wages.  Think of it.  The median income in Knoxville, Tennessee is just short of $34,000.

That is thirty-four grand for one long-necked bottle of perfume, brother.  One bottle.

This marble bottle was a household investment, used sparingly – drop-by-drop, really –  to be used to cover bodily odors in society where washing was at a premium. This is pure undiluted nard from a plant from India, expensive as all get out.

To the amazement of everyone in the room, Mary didn’t simply unstop the plug as she approached Jesus.  She broke the neck of this vial and so help me, she poured the entire bottle over His head.

What a gorgeous scent!  The house filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The place also filled with agitation.

“Why has this perfume been wasted?” The main whiner was Judas, with others joining in.  They look at the currency, not the beautiful sentiment of the moment.  Jesus, however, loved this.

So let me get to my point:

Mary is a picture of the Believers who hold nothing back when it comes to loving Jesus.

That, I think, is a great door of understanding for me.  In seeing His beauty, she gave something as precious as she could find in her life, and gave it all.

Perhaps my spiritual unrest has been that I have been content with showing Jesus a drop-by-drop love. 

I haven’t been able to break the neck of my self-will and let my entire life flow out in love to Him.  I’ve held back.  Why?

It hit me this morning as I was driving to the school:

Perhaps it’s because I’ve lost the beauty of who He is, what He’s done and where He will take me.   Oh, I know the narrative all right, but I’ve let the fascination of Heaven slip away.  The confidence of salvation is secure in me, but the allure of the Savior has diminished.   The gorgeous realization of my future with Him and His family is something that I’ve always enjoyed contemplating, but lately that contemplation has taken a back seat to a schedule that keeps me in pace with the world but affords me little time to be in the Secret Place with the Almighty.

I want that back.

I don’t want a drippy relationship.  I want a fully committed bond with Christ.

I want to break the neck of my self-will and enjoy Jesus once again.

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