Someone once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses His life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul. Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Those are probing questions, aren’t they? Jesus was a master at asking questions. His questions make us think about what is really important to us and also to Him.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in order to redeem us. I don’t know if this side of heaven we will ever fully understand the totality of His love and sacrifice for us – but we should at least try to fathom it. Otherwise, how will our love and commitment to Him ever reach the heights and depths it should.
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20 wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
In John 12:3 we read of the love that Mary had for Jesus and the costly way she expressed that love. “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.”
True love gives off a wonderful fragrance. Others are blessed by it. True love also gives off a powerful witness. Here we are 2000 years after the fact and we are still blessed by Mary’s devotion to Jesus.
Matthew and Mark both refer to the alabaster box the ointment was contained in. It too was very expensive. It was likely manufactured in Alabastron in Egypt. The area was known for manufacturing such vessels and perfumes. Matthew and Mark tell us that this particular spikenard was “very precious” and John tells us that it was “very costly”.
True love and devotion are that way. They are “very precious” and “very costly”. Is our love and devotion for Christ in the categories of “very precious” and “very costly”? Another thing I like about Mary’s sacrifice is that she expressed it while Jesus was alive. Many times, we express our love and devotion to others after they have died. It may make us feel better, but it really does them no good.
We are not sure how Mary acquired the perfume or how long she had it, but we do know that she had several choices on what she might do with it.
1. She could have kept it and used it just on herself.
2. She could have blessed others with it but not Jesus.
3. She could have used it on herself and others and perhaps including Jesus. Or…
4. She could have used it exclusively with Jesus – which she did.
It seems to me that what she did was impulsive. Love can be expressed impulsively. I wonder what motivated her? I don’t think it was a sentimental adoration.
1. I believe she held Jesus in the highest regard and reverence.
2. I believe she had a heart of gratitude for His restoring her brother, and even more, I think she grasped, at least in part, the sacrifice Jesus would make for her on the cross. Judas Iscariot was critical of her extravagant love. He was the keeper of the treasury and realized what the value of the spikenard would mean to the funds which he had been pilfering. He didn’t care about Mary. In John 12:7 Jesus came to her defense – “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor, you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
3. I believe her faith in Christ motivated her, as well. I think she was convinced that He was the Son of God, her Savior, and her LORD.
4. I am sure her love for Him was genuinely based on her reverence for Him, her gratitude for the ways He had enriched all their lives, and her faith in who He was.
Lastly, let’s consider the characteristics of her consecration to Christ.
1. Lip service was not enough. Her love and devotion to Christ motivated her to give.
2. Her love and devotion moved her to give that which was very costly.
3. She was far different than Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, who pretended they were giving everything, but in fact, kept back some for themselves. Mary gave her all.
4. Mary’s love and devotion for Christ could not be contained. It had to be poured out. It had to be expressed. There is no doubt in my mind that Mary’s devotion brought joy to the heart of Jesus. Have our hearts been broken and poured out in love and devotion for Jesus? Do our work, our worship, and our witness bring joy to the heart of Jesus?
Our prayer should be the words of the old hymn – “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee. Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise….”
May our hearts be broken as we contemplate what Christ did for us. May our lives be poured out to partner with Him in expanding His kingdom in the hearts and lives of many who are still in the dark.
By His grace,