I wish I had an alabaster jar. A precious vessel full of extravagantly expensive perfume to pour upon the head of the One I love and worship. I would gladly sacrifice a year’s wages and much more to hear Him say, “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
When I put myself inside the head of the woman who did this to Jesus in Matthew 26, the stately scripture story takes on an emotional passion. This is a woman who has spent time with Jesus, sitting at His feet, soaking in His words, receiving His loving gaze. Her heart is full of devotion for the One who has opened her eyes to the beauty of the Kingdom. Impetuously throwing off social propriety, she breaks into an all-male dinner party to lavishly anoint the head of Jesus with carefully conserved perfume costing a whole year’s earnings. The shock and indignation of the other guests does not deter her. Their negative reaction will not keep her from expressing her heart to her most treasured friend.
In the midst of the sombre events leading up to the crucifixion, this story brings a shaft of light to looming shadows. It is as if she can not help herself, this woman whose spontaneous act of worship pushes aside all protocol to demonstrate a full measure of love in the only way she knows how.
From out of the shadows she slips up behind Jesus as he reclines at the table, breaks the flask open and pours perfume over his head. Immediately the room is suffused with the sweet, heady fragrance of exotic nard. Then dribbling the remaining drops of scent on his feet, she kneels and wipes them with her unbound hair. (John 12:3)
Conversation comes to an abrupt halt. There is an embarrassed silence in the presence of such unbridled devotion, then the accusations fly. She is called wasteful by the disciples, derided for using something better spent to help the poor. But Jesus doesn’t see it that way. “She has done a beautiful thing to me.” He sees her heart, her intense desire to make a sacrifice for him. “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”
It is doubtful she knows of Jesus’ approaching death or at least how close it is. But her heart has been moved by God to perform this symbolic act of consecration without knowing its full significance. What she has done to him will be remembered down through history, declares Jesus himself. Just as His coming act of love for her will never loose its power throughout time.
I ask myself, am I as full of passionate devotion towards Jesus as this woman? Are there times when I abandon all social conservatism to pour out the abundance of my love ? What beautiful thing can I do to express what is in my heart for Him?
There is no one objective answer to these personal questions, but they lead my thoughts to times of unrestrained worship; those “shining moments”, as I call them, when my heart overflows with love and gratitude to my Savior and Lord. My soul is an alabaster jar, a precious vessel broken open so all that is fragrant within streams out in worship to the lover of my soul, who says, “she has done a beautiful thing to me.”
May my prayer be like special perfume before You. May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening gift given on the altar in worship. – Psalm 141:2 New Life Version