THE ALABASTER BOX
John 12:3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
This is one of the greatest pictures in the Bible, an incredible glimpse of love and faith in the life of one of the earliest believers. Mary of Bethany stands in stark contrast to the disciple Judas. Mary is a picture of the intimate nature of our walk with Christ. Judas is always painted as some far out, demonized man. But Judas was not that different from many Christians today. What was his error? He wanted to use his relationship with Christ to further his agenda on earth. Sound familiar? Actually, the message of Judas is very close to the popular, “You can have it now” message that has become all too common today. Matthew Henry pointed out the love and devotion of Mary, she is the pattern of what a Christian’s life should look like.
” Let us anoint Christ as our Beloved, kiss him with a kiss of affection; and anoint him as our Sovereign, kiss him with a kiss of allegiance. Did he pour out his soul unto death for us, and shall we think any box of ointment too precious to pour out upon him? It is observable that she took care to pour it all out upon Christ’s head; she broke the box (so we read it); but because it was an alabaster box, not easily broken, nor was it necessary that it should be broken, to get out the ointment, some read it, she shook the box, or knocked it to the ground, to loosen what was in it, that it might be got out the better; or, she rubbed and scraped out all that stuck tot he sides of it. Christ must have been honored with all we have, and we must not think to keep back any part of the price. Do we give him the precious ointment of our best affections? Let him have them all; love him with all the heart.”
This act of devotion unveiled the error in the heart of Judas. Judas couldn’t stand this open display of love, love that was willing to pour out everything at the feet of Jesus. As Mary poured out the ointment and kissed the feet of Jesus, Judas raised up the smoke screen of ministry, “we could have used this costly ointment to minister to the poor”. Obviously, Judas was not interested in the poor, he was disgusted by Mary’s open display of affection on Jesus, Judas saw no value in this kind of love. People with a personal agenda for self improvement cannot see the worth of Mary’s offering. “Why this waste?” Many of us have heard those and similar other words criticizing our acts of devotion. Of course we are to minister to the poor. If our ministry to the afflicted and hurting of this world does not flow out of our love for Jesus, then we are just another religious group looking for a way to soothe our conscience.