Recently during my personal time with the Lord in the morning, I’ve been stuck on Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 11 & 12). So this Coffee Stain is a bit different.
Jerusalem was on fire, burning with the idea that the Messiah had arrived. They’re looking for Jesus to parade into town during the Passover season, thump the Romans and set up a Davidic kingdom in Jerusalem.
Jesus would have had several million hits on You Tube from the crowd with their fickle praise during this time. The fire didn’t burn very deeply for most of them, though. The “hosannas” quickly turned into “crucify Him!” a few days later.
A few days before the Passover celebration Jesus shows up again at Lazarus’ house. These friends knew the price of identifying with the Lord. Jesus picture would have been in the Post Office: “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”
Do What You Want Lord
The big guys in Jerusalem wanted him stopped, so giving a feast for the Jesus could be interpreted as an act of defiance. In reality it was an act of thanksgiving, love and worship.
And if Lazarus died again? He belonged to Jesus and the Lord could do what He wanted with him. (Am I like that? Do what You want with me Lord!)
So, on this night with just a tinge of chill in the air, everyone was in place. The men eating, Martha serving and Mary … well, Mary was in her place dong what she did best—unorthodox worship.
She takes an ultra-expensive perfume and pours it on the Lord’s feet and head (Mark 14:9; John 12:3)
The perfume was worth a year’s salary, according to some. If my calculations are correct a pint of Chanel N°5 PARFUM GRAND EXTRAIT Limited Edition is worth about $2200.
That’s not a year’s salary, so Mary was pouring out some heavy-duty wealth. I imagine it was a kind of savings account for the family. If they needed money they could sell it. Martha and Lazarus could probably have stopped her so in a sense they joined in her worship.
The last time we saw Mary at Jesus feet she was weeping, “Lord, if you had been here…” In other words, “WHY weren’t you here?”
This time she is offering one of the purest acts of worship we see in God’s Word.
Three times we see Mary at Jesus feet :
1. Learning from Him (Luke 10:39)
2. Heartbroken, asking why (John 11:32)
3. Worshipping (John 12:3)
The only time she wasn’t criticized was when, in effect, she asked, “Why?” Selah (pause and think about that).
(As a matter of fact she seems to be underfoot nearly every time we see her. Lord, do you have to shoo me away because I’m underfoot?)
I think we see ourselves in Mary when she hurts and doesn’t understand what God is doing.
The busy, measure-my-worth-by-what-I-do Christian can’t understand sitting, listening to Jesus. The average follower of Christ can’t understand such a sacrifice of wealth. The greedy, traitorous “follower” can’t understand loving Jesus so much instead of loving wealth and position.
It shocked me to realize that with the strength of this perfume, Jesus probably still had this fragrance on Him at the Cross. Maybe the Roman soldier who bent near to nail a spike into his hand came up short for just a second, “What was that smell?”
Mary was like a priest adding good-smelling incense to the offering of Christ.
The good lady dried his feet with her hair. The smell of that perfume must have lingered in her hair for weeks, and in her heart for the rest of her life.
A Mary kind of offering/worship is an identify-with-Jesus-wholly offering. The whole house was filled with the odor of that perfume. You can’t miss that kind of heart. Often people are perplexed as they see it and it flushes the devil out of hiding.
“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief…” (John 12:5, 6 NIV)
Have you ever seen sacrifice or worship like this in those around you? Share it with other readers of Coffee Stains. I’ll print your responses (if you’re too lengthy I may have to edit it). David.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Everyone is an optimist until he gets hit in the mouth.” Mike Tyson
Flickr, Creative commons, elizaraxi Mary Anoints Jesus; Felix Padrosa Photography Perfume bottle product shot