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Peering through the window that night... I saw her give her all.

Peering through the window that night…I saw her give her all.

My growing up years were spent in a little town not far from San Francisco… Alameda. Years later, I remember taking my two oldest children, Matthew and Amy trick-or-treating on the familiar tree-lined streets. The big old homes were close together and the atmosphere was festive. The kids had so much fun, but I thoroughly enjoyed looking in the well-lit windows, seeing the interesting furniture and beautiful décor.

Imagine with me that we could peer through the windows to see Jesus having dinner with his closest friends—the disciples, and Mary, Martha, probably Lazarus—at Simon’s house in Bethany. We have recalled Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the donkey foal, we have watched the strange show of Jesus’ fury as he turned over tables and cleared the Temple of money makers, we have listened to his teaching, and bent our ears as he brilliantly managed the Jewish leaders’ attempts to ensnare him with their questions.

But in the evenings, Jesus retreated from Jerusalem to stay with friends in nearby Bethany. This is where we find him as Mark recounts a particular dinner. Picture with me what it would have been like to peer through the windows and take in the events…

A prayer: Lord, as we look at that night so long ago, we do not struggle to understand what happened, but let us not read this scripture without putting ourselves in the script. Please help us take from Mark’s words what you would have us apply to our lives today. Amen.

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. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 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.”1.

Can you imagine looking in the window that night and taking in this event that we are still talking about more than 2000 years later? Hmmm. We learn from John’s retelling of this event,2 that the woman was Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus who anointed Jesus with this ‘ointment’ derived from the spikenard plant from India3.

Think of the events of the days to follow, Friends. Wherever Jesus went, that perfume of Mary’s filled the air. Everyone he was near in the days to come would be affected by her action—the arresting soldiers, Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate, the Sanhedrin. Hmmm.

Stepping back from the window, I wonder…

…how did Mary get that valuable perfume?

…was she saving it for her dowery?

…why did she pour it on Jesus, and why on this night?

…did Mary suspect that the end was near for Jesus who she loved, Jesus who had raised her brother back to life again?

…how did she feel when she was criticized in front of all the disciples for her generous act?

It seems to me that Mary did this for Jesus as a generous expression of her worship. Nothing mattered more to her than demonstrating her adoration for Jesus. And I believe she saw the Lord’s appreciation in his eyes—even before he spoke. That was enough for her.

And then I wonder about me. Moved as I am by Mary’s actions, I wonder what is my generous act of worship for my Lord? Am I willing to give sacrificially of myself to him? Or perhaps it is a giving up of something to honor him because of my love for him. Hmmm…

The widow who gave her two mites gave her most – that is what moved Jesus.

Mary gave her most – that is what moved Jesus. I guess I want my heart, my worship to cause the same look in Jesus’ eyes as those two women. How about you... any thoughts?

in the footsteps of Jesus from the gospel of Mark, #44


1 - Mark 14.3-9

2 –John 12.1-8

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