The Prodigal Gift

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It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

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 14:1-9


Most of the disciples did not see it coming.

Jesus had been talking about his death and resurrection, but they could not understand. But there was one person, one who had chosen to sit at his feet rather than bustle about getting dinner ready, one who had cried deep and broken tears when her brother had died, one whose eyes had been opened to the truth of Jesus’ statements–and she did what none of the others knew to do: she anointed him for burial.

This is a profound passage on so many levels. There is the expense of the gift–an entire year’s wages. She took her most expensive treasure, her family’s security, and she destroyed it in order to bless Jesus. She gave all she had. This prodigal act of love was scolded by the others, but Jesus–but Jesus. He saw, he received, he blessed. He saw it as the faith-full and solemn act that it was.

It was Tuesday–two days before Passover. The Cross loomed at the end of the week, and the fragrance of Mary’s gift–that heavy and expensive perfume–no doubt accompanied Jesus to the Cross, through the betrayal and the scourging and the mocking. As he gave his life, every breath may well have been tinged with the sweetness of her act of love and faith.

Mary gave her most precious gift, and it didn’t matter than no one else understood. She offered all she had, and all that mattered was that Jesus saw it, that he understood, that he was blessed.

I think about that with my little offerings–how often to I value them more if someone else sees and notices, shares the experience with me? I was thinking about that this morning as I prepare to share a song I wrote many years ago–a song on this passage. Even if no one else showed up for church, would it be enough to sing it to Jesus?

I’m just grateful that the Lord brought such a thought to mind. He is asserting himself at the top of my affections, claiming his rightful place and refocusing me on him. I pray that I would pour out my gifts to bless him, giving him the worship he deserves.

What will you pour out to Christ today? Your worship, your praise, your tears? Will it be prayers for the lost, or finances given lavishly to support his work in the world? And will it be enough if he is the only one who sees?

Jesus told Mary’s story. He loves to bless his people with shining rays of his own glory. But he knows that seeking that glory for ourselves will destroy us. So he invites us to make HIS glory the focus of our lives, and we enjoy the glow spilling over on to what we do, who we are.

Be blessed, friends. Go enjoy the glory of Jesus on this day of worship.



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