Our Bible study this year recalls the details of the days leading up to the trial, death and resurrection of Jesus. In meditating upon His sacrifice for us in this “thoughtful hour”, we pray that you will sense your connection with all of heaven. Feel free to post your thoughts and reactions to things you have read and experienced in the study, #messagemag. Above all, it is our prayer that you get to know Jesus and experience His life-changing power for yourself.
At the table the Saviour sat with Simon, whom He had cured of a loathsome disease, on one side, and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, on the other. Martha served at the table, but Mary was earnestly listening to every word from the lips of Jesus. In His mercy, Jesus had pardoned her sins, He had called forth her beloved brother from the grave, and Mary’s heart was filled with gratitude. She had heard Jesus speak of His approaching death, and in her deep love and sorrow she had longed to show Him honor. At great personal sacrifice she had purchased an alabaster box of “ointment of spikenard, very costly,” with which to anoint His body. But now many were declaring that He was about to be crowned king. Her grief was turned to joy, and she was eager to be first in honoring her Lord. Breaking her box of ointment, she poured its contents upon the head and feet of Jesus; then, as she knelt weeping, moistening them with her tears, she wiped His feet with her long, flowing hair.
She had sought to avoid observation, and her movements might have passed unnoticed, but the ointment filled the room with its fragrance, and published her act to all present. Judas looked upon this act with great displeasure. Instead of waiting to hear what Christ would say of the matter, he began to whisper his complaints to those near him, throwing reproach upon Christ for suffering such waste. Craftily he made suggestions that would be likely to cause disaffection.
Mary heard the words of criticism. Her heart trembled within her. She feared that her sister would reproach her for extravagance. The Master, too, might think her improvident. Without apology or excuse she was about to shrink away, when the voice of her Lord was heard, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her?” He saw that she was embarrassed and distressed. He knew that in this act of service she had expressed her gratitude for the forgiveness of her sins, and He brought relief to her mind. Lifting His voice above the murmur of criticism, He said, “She hath wrought a good work on Me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying.”
The fragrant gift which Mary had thought to lavish upon the dead body of the Saviour, she poured upon His living form. At the burial its sweetness could only have pervaded the tomb; now it gladdened His heart with the assurance of her faith and love. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus offered not their gift of love to Jesus in His life. With bitter tears they brought their costly spices for His cold, unconscious form. The women who bore spices to the tomb found their errand in vain, for He had risen. But Mary, pouring out her love upon the Saviour while He was conscious of her devotion, was anointing Him for the burial. And as He went down into the darkness of His great trial, He carried with Him the memory of that deed, an earnest of the love that would be His from His redeemed ones forever.
Many there are who bring their precious gifts for the dead. As they stand about the cold, silent form, words of love are freely spoken. Tenderness, appreciation, devotion, all are lavished upon one who sees not nor hears.
Had these words been spoken when the weary spirit needed them so much, when the ear could hear and the heart could feel, how precious would have been their fragrance!
Mary knew not the full significance of her deed of love. She could not answer her accusers. She could not explain why she had chosen that occasion for anointing Jesus. The Holy Spirit had planned for her, and she had obeyed His promptings. Inspiration stoops to give no reason. An unseen presence, it speaks to mind and soul, and moves the heart to action. It is its own justification.
Christ told Mary the meaning of her act, and in this He gave her more than He had received. “In that she hath poured this ointment on My body,” He said, “she did it for My burial.” As the alabaster box was broken, and filled the whole house with its fragrance, so Christ was to die, His body was to be broken; but He was to rise from the tomb, and the fragrance of His life was to fill the earth. Christ “hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor” Ephesians 5:2.
“Verily I say unto you,” Christ declared, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Looking into the future, the Saviour spoke with certainty concerning His gospel. It was to be preached throughout the world. And as far as the gospel extended, Mary’s gift would shed its fragrance, and hearts would be blessed through her unstudied act. Kingdoms would rise and fall; the names of monarchs and conquerors would be forgotten; but this woman’s deed would be immortalized upon the pages of sacred history. Until time should be no more, that broken alabaster box would tell the story of the abundant love
of God for a fallen race.
ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.
No one likes being in a place where they are not wanted. Few things are more uncomfortable than knowing the people around you do not want you there. Is it possible that God is looking for people who are comfortable being uncomfortable? I want to invite to explore what it means to be divinely disruptive.
Isn’t she just asking to be judged? Isn’t she flirting with criticism? Sometimes in our most passionate times with God we are also in our most public revelation. Can you remember a time where your passion for Jesus overpowered your concern for your reputation? Just use #messagemag to respond.
Notice that the attention actually shifts to Jesus, and the woman is only the evidence used to show his lack of authenticity. People will always try to disprove God by the actions of others, but praise God that He doesn’t shy away from these situations. Jesus doesn’t mind standing in the gap—taking a hit—because of someone’s past mistakes. He doesn’t allow anything to come between you and Him.
Take a moment to meditate on the words of this old Hymn.
Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever;
He is my all, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, like pride or station;
Self or friends shall not intervene;
Though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,
Though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial,
I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.
There is another side to the coin. Some people see it as disruptive when other people go after God in the way they feel inspired to. This is how Simon responded. Because the woman went to Jesus in a way in which he and others did not approve, he spoke condescendingly about her. Be honest now: Can you think of a time when you were being a Pharisee, looking down on someone for something you did not like? Share it with us using the #messagemag.
Max Lucado in his book, A Love Worth Giving, points out that it is hard to give what you do not have. Jesus brings attention to the great love this woman has poured out on Him, and specifies that it is because she has received great love in the form of great forgiveness. This should cause you to wonder if you are really open or aware of the love God shows you. In your personal time with God, ask Him what loving action He is doing for you that you may not be receiving?
I believe that God is looking for people who are not afraid to be disruptive, people willing to sacrifice their comfort zones for the sake of having an encounter with the Christ. Talk to God about the comfortable places in your life that He wants to disturb. Talk to Jesus about your life and those that you are around whom He wants you to disturb. Maybe one day you will look back and realize that God used you to be divinely disruptive.
Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Shiloh Seventh-day
Adventist Church in Ozark, Alabama. He also pastors the Mt. Olive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dothan, Alabama.