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.