Did you ever wonder why this woman did not just open the lid and dab a little ointment on Jesus? Couldn’t she have used some if it on Him and saved the rest? After all, this ointment was very costly. Spikenard was an ointment imported from India. One whole jar of it would have cost the equivalent of a common worker’s annual income. This was more than a token gesture; this was a sacrificial offering.
The woman was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is mentioned in the gospels three times and each time she is found at the feet of Jesus. Mary knew what real worship was about.
It was six days before Passover and the city was filled with people. Based on the previous events of the last few days, Mary’s house was hopping with excitement and awe. Her brother Lazarus, had just been raised from the dead by Jesus and word had traveled fast.
You see many knew of the special relationship between Jesus and this family. When Jesus came to Bethany, this was the house where He stayed and these were his friends.
This occasion was special, but had a dual meaning. It was a dinner to celebrate the miracle of resurrection for Lazarus, and also a final meal for Jesus with those whom He considered family.
A trial, a cross, and a tomb would lay ahead for Mary’s friend. Mary didn’t come to this dinner to make a request or fellowship with other people. She didn’t come to this occasion with an event mindset. She came with spiritual anticipation of His death and prepared His body in public ceremony.
The highest purpose of worship is for God, not for us which she demonstrates by her actions and her offering.
Mary didn’t just use a portion of ointment to anoint Jesus. She did not try to keep any of it for her own purposes; instead she broke the box, and poured out all the ointment, eliminating any possibility of its being saved for another occasion.
So many want to worship the Lord with all kinds of restrictions and reservations. They make a great demonstration of their token gifts, but they keep the greater part of their lives for themselves. They may give an hour or two to God each week, but the rest belongs to them. They may give to God a small percentage of their income, but they retain ownership of the rest. They may use some of their talents and gifts in God’s service, but the greater part is expended in self-interest.
Such people know nothing of true worship and understand nothing about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus uses broken vessels.
A broken vessel can no longer retain its contents. It is powerless to withhold; therefore, it freely spills out all that is within it. This is the purpose of the breaking. It is not so God can take pleasure in our pain. No! The pain is part of the process when we are broken, but it is not the purpose. The goal is the fragrance, the sweet aroma that fills the air...and the nostrils of God.
Although Mary was a host to many, she was a worshiper of one and her actions alone transformed the dinner into a worship service...Her worship was rejected by those in the room but she didn’t allow rejection to dictate her response (worship) to Jesus. The fragrance of her gift alone brought all the attention to Him. She wiped His feet with her hair which for a woman signifies her glory and identity. She invested herself in worship to Christ and became low to lift Him high.
The spikenard, her gift that day, also represents the essence of the contents of our heart. Our mind, will and emotions are the ingredients that make the fragrance of life so valuable.
We must be willing to break the box around our hearts to release our praise unto God. Many worship inside the boxes of religion, pride, religious personalities or musical styles.
Only through this process the pure love of a broken life will become the anointed fragrance of worship by which we can adorn our Savior. I believe in this day and hour, God is looking for those who are willing to “waste” their very best on Him. He is worthy of our offering.