The Old Cross and the New (A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)
All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique – a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before. The old cross would have no truck with the world.
Today, on Wednesday of Holy Week, we remember Mary anointing Jesus at Bethany. This was an extravagant and costly act of devotion. The expensive nard perfume came from the Himalayas of northern India and according to Pliny the Elder, the best perfumes came in alabaster flasks, many with a long thin neck as pictured above. The Bible tells us this alabaster jar and its contents were worth a year’s wages. It was probably the most treasured and valuable item Mary owned; possibly her life savings were contained in it.
Mark 14:3 tells us that when Mary anointed Jesus, she didn’t just pop the lid and pour a little out. No she “broke it” open. The Greek word used here means to “shatter”; “break into pieces”; “crush”. In other words, there was no going back on her giving; no holding back a little for herself later. She “broke the neck” of her alabaster jar and poured out everything she had on her beloved Savior. John 12:3 tells us “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” While Mark 14:10 shows us a dark side to this beautiful act of devotion; some saw it as “a waste”.
Tonight, let us remember how Mary held nothing back in her devotion to Jesus; she loved Him dearly and gave Him her best. She extravagantly broke it all on Him. May the Holy Spirit fill us afresh with such self-giving devotion.
Tonight, let us take note that such devotion cannot be hidden; where the alabaster jar has been broken the house WILL be filled with the fragrance of its perfume. What is the aroma of your house today? Finally, tonight, let us beware. The one who sees this costly devotion and outpouring as “a waste”, is in fact His betrayer. All Judas could see was his own selfish loss, cloaked in the lie of caring for the poor. May God keep us free from mammon’s spiritually blinding deception and the supposed wisdom of the world’s economics.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life"- John 3:16 "Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" - John 14:6