What a Waste


Heart pounding, she pushed away from the shadowed doorway and approached the men at the table. Although many sets of male eyes watched her draw near, her eyes were captured in the gaze of the only one who mattered. Voices dropped away and silence blanketed the room as she knelt before this one who had changed her world.

With shaking hands, she caressed the elegant bottle, its graceful neck that her girlfriends admired, the ornate designs that indicated the value of the oil within. She shut her eyes and with a vicious snap, she broke the thin neck of the vial. Fragrance filled the room.

With a smooth movement, she lifted the vial and poured it over the smooth hair of her King. As rivelets ran down his sideburns, her tears coursed down her face. Voices at once rose in protest.

"What's she doing!"
"Hey, that's crazy! That's expensive oil!"
"What in the world...Lady, you're nuts!"

Lips pursed together, she tipped the vial until there was nothing left. The last drop landed on his oil-soaked head and she fell at his feet, weeping. It was all she had, but it would never be enough.

His hand touched her shoulder and gently squeezed. She heard through her weeping the sound of that voice that had called the planets into orbit. "Leave her alone! She knows what she's doing. I'm telling you guys, what she has done will be remembered forever."

So what had she done?

If we're honest with ourselves, we stumble over that story too. It's been estimated that the cost of that alabaster jar of ointment was up to a year's salary. A single woman had very little means of support in those days. And she had just thrown it all away on a man who would be dead before the week was up.

Doesn't your common sense kick and and say, "That really wasn't very smart. Nice, yeah. Spiritual, sure. But not smart"?

We live like that, too. Sure, we're Christians. Sure we tithe, go to church, serve in the nursery, teach VBS, even give to missions. But we live smart. We don't waste ourselves on eternal things if it might cost us earthly things that are more important.

It has been suggested that the pungent nature of that costly oil would have still hung on Jesus' skin as he was being crucified. As he was whipped, slapped, and laid out on rough crossbeams, was it her gift that kept him going? Was it the scent of one woman's sacrifice that helped him make his own? When his best friends had deserted him, his best buddy denied their acquaintance, and his own Father had turned away, Mary's gift was his only companion. The aroma of her love that had been "wasted" on him would still have floated about his head. Maybe that's why he predicted that what she had done would forever be entwined with his death and resurrection. Because for him, that aroma would be forever entwined with it in his memory. His real best friend turned out to be a woman.

So what are you wasting on Jesus?Is your gift to him comfortable for you? 

Sure you are regular at church--unless the big game is on. 
Sure you give--unless bills are a little tight. 
Sure you read your Bible--if you have to.  
Sure you live righteously--if it doesn't clash with what you really desire.
Sure you witness to others--if the mood is right and you're not embarrassed.
Sure you pray--to ask God for what you want.
Sure you pour your oil on him--a few drops.

It is significant that the Bible records that she broke the vial to pour it. Most of us would have taken out the stopper and dropped a couple drops on his head, feeling quite spiritual about it. But when she broke it, there was no going back.

Have you allowed Jesus to break you so that there is no going back? Or do you live with one foot in the world--just in case? When we break our lives over his head, we are all in. And that's really what scriptural Christianity is all about. 

What is your alabaster vial?

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