A highly-anticipated and heavily funded program that didn't reap the results we anticipated.
The dynamic pastor of a mega church resigns to pastor a mission church in Africa.
Seem like a waste?We don't like to admit it, but we apply worldly standards of success to God's work as well.
We'd like them to be. In fact, if any one of us had been standing with the disciples that day when Mary broke her expensive vial of perfume and poured it over Jesus, we'd have joined right in with the murmuring. "Why'd she do that? She could've done so much good with it! What a waste of perfectly good money. It should have been put to better use. We need to appoint a committee to address wasteful jar-breaking practices." (Matt. 26)
And most of us thrifty-minded Americans would fully expect Jesus to agree. With kindness, yes, but still agree. He should have thanked Mary, given her a hug, and gently explained that next time she might think more carefully before wasting herself on Him with such extravagance.
But that's not what He did and His answer often leaves the rest of us scratching our heads and feeling embarrassed that we still disagree.
In fact, He drove the point home even more firmly when he told them that everywhere the Gospel was preached, her story would go with it.
Every wonder why? Why THIS story over all the other amazing events that happened wherever he went?
The secret is in the word "wasted." When we apply the world's standards to this incident, the perfume was, in fact, severely wasted. It was wasted money. It was a waste of Mary's future income. Women in those days didn't have access to luxurious treasures like that very often. Once it was gone, it was gone. No chance to put it on Ebay. No garage sales. No Antiques Roadshow host would offer her a shocking fortune for it. It was gone, puddled on the floor, dripping off the hair of the one she considered worthy of such an offering.
The disciples totally missed the point, even after Jesus explained it. But we don't have to.
Jesus told them that this story would be told hand-in-hand with the Gospel--because it IS the Gospel.
Jostling crowds followed this preacher from Nazareth from shore to shore, eager for a front-row seat to the show. They wanted healing, wanted demons cast out, wanted fed, wanted hope. But what did they bring? Who among them brought Jesus anything?
Salvation is a gift to us from God, but it is NOT free. We present the message often as though it was free, as in "free gift with every purchase!" There was a terribly high price to pay for rebellious Man to experience God's forgiveness and Jesus knew he was about to pay it. And at that moment in history, Mary was the only one who caught on.
Her act of emptying her priceless jar perfectly symbolized what Jesus had been telling them all along, but they were too dazzled by the miracles and free food to hear it. "If anyone would come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me."
God's gift is more than an offering. It's really an exchange. We can't keep what we have and gain what He offers. He offers to exchange his riches in glory for our ragged robes. His righteousness for our sin. His everlasting life for our pathway to destruction. It's not until we are willing to empty ourselves of our own willfulness that we can accept that gift.
Until we are willing to waste ourselves and all we have on Jesus, we aren't worthy of him. And He cannot fill us with himself when we are already filled with ourselves.
Wasted on Jesus. It's not possible. God keeps excellent accounts and nothing is wasted that is given to Him. We cannot know the peace, the joy, the fulfillment that God has for us until, like Mary with her alabaster jar, we have totally wasted ourselves on Him.