“And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head. … Jesus said, ‘She has done a beautiful thing to Me. … And truly, I say to you, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.'” (Mark 14:3, 6b, 9 ESV)
If you went to a dinner party in Jesus’ day, there was a good chance someone would anoint you with oil. It was a way of honoring guests—much like we would do, taking your coat and seating you in the best chair and bringing out the best silver for dinner.
But what Mary did went far beyond that. She didn’t use oil, but nard—a sweet ointment worth nearly a year’s wages. And nard came in a long, thin-necked bottle made of alabaster—maybe the modern equivalent would be jade. You could only get the ointment out by breaking the bottle neck. In Mary’s eyes, it was worth it—to love Jesus, to show Him what He meant to her.
I wonder if Mary remembered this when just a couple of days later, Jesus allowed His own body to be broken—His own life poured out—for love of her, and all of us? There is no costlier gift. Jesus’ broken body poured out God’s mercy on all of us; and His resurrection from the dead means that all of us, everyone who trusts Him, will be welcomed guests in God’s kingdom.
THE PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Your life, poured out in love for me. Amen.
* What is the costliest thing in your house, do you think?
* If you are willing, mention something costly—not necessarily in money!—that you have done because you love Jesus.
* Is there an object, picture, or anything else that reminds you how much Jesus loves you?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Reprinted from Lutheran Hour Ministries
(To view the entire “Lenten Devotions” mini-series, please click here.)