The Fragrance of the Perfume

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled withoctober-04-assorted-001 the fragrance of the oil          John 12:3

While Hollywood has generally given us the impression that Mary was a young beautiful woman, that may not have been the reality. In that time even poor young beautiful women would have been married and Mary was not poor. While we do not know Mary’s age it seems possible that she and Martha were both widows, living with their brother Lazarus. That would give us an entirely different view than the film version. In this scene we meet a Mary who kept all her savings in that perfume jar. It acted as something of a retirement account. As she grew older with no marital prospects, no way to work or even the right to own property that perfume was all she had besides the kindness of her brother. She was presenting  that gift in a single defining moment as her worship and expression of love to the Lord Jesus.

As the fragrance filled the room people began one by one to realize how exorbitant and yes even a little crazy what Mary was doing really was! Her family and friends were shocked but silent. Then one by one the disciples, beginning with Judas,  began to protest. “Why wasn’t this sold …and given to the poor?”

But Jesus knew Mary’s heart and while she remained silently at His feet He defended her. Today we have little to describe how Peter or John, Andrew or Phillip worshiped, but Mary’s act remains as the Bible’s best example of how we should be after 2,000 years. In a way that costly perfume continues to fill each of our rooms with its fragrance!

Anxious for Nothing or for Everything?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God Philippians 4:6

Am I anxious about tomorrow’s decision or resting in whatever comes? A
India and Nepal 109 - Copym I worried about fixing things in the house (Like the furnace that failed before Christmas), or am I trusting that God knows everything we need? Am I happy with my small ministry in the church or am I constantly pushing for a more prominent position? These are where mental battle lines are drawn each week for many of us. Interestingly, Paul wrote these words from a Roman prison cell where he also observed that whether he lived or died he was content in Christ.

One famous ballet dancer shared in a New York Times magazine interview, that he never felt more empty than when he had finished a perfect performance and heard the sound of applause filling the air.. Recently, one man was arrested with 21 million dollars in cash under his mattress, and another sits in jail to conceal the knowledge of a treasure ship filled with gold. They have each traded their health, their freedom and their years for one moment of riches. In contrast, I will always remember a village at the center of a tea plantation in north India. I sat on the ground with small children who happily ate their rice, dahl and chicken with curry. There were no tears, complaining or pushing and shoving to be seen that afternoon. Gentle shy smiles peeked up at me as my own tears flowed down my face.

Where is that kind of peace and contentment here in America or in my own life today? We seem to complain deeply over the loss of small things and fight bitterly for control of passing power,position or possessions. But when we pray and release everything to God, the greatest treasure sits waiting to be discovered! What could be of more value than His peace?

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.! Philippians 4:7





Darkening Horizon

…Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews whoimg_4333 came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.  John 11:31b-34a

We often think of Mary as the ideal believer since she had chosen the good part listening at the feet of Jesus. But at the feet of Jesus is a place to learn, not a place to pose for pictures. Mary was in the good place but she soon faced the ultimate test just like we do. Lazarus, her brother died and he had died while Jesus had purposely delayed his coming. “If you had been here Lord!” , her heart broke trying to fit together the puzzle pieces of the harsh finality of death with the loving promises of the master. Mary could not see beyond her tears, yet Jesus was touched by her weakness just as He is today by ours.

We do not need to reach some ideal level of always joyfully believing the best when the worst has fallen in on our world. Our Savior is touched by the feeling of our infirmities, our hopeless state and our tears. He is not a demanding master but a master who takes the terrible demanding circumstances upon his shoulders and carries them to the cross.

What is your greatest sorrow? How heavy is the weight of your load? How long is your night that never ends? Jesus at your most vulnerable moment weeps and asks, “Where have you laid him?” No matter our darkening  the horizon of our world our Jesus sees beyond!