God continues highlighting to me the importance of owning our identity. To silence the voice of the critics. And usually, I’m the loudest, meanest critic in my life. This morning as I was reading the book of John, I stopped on Mary's story of anointing Jesus. John 12:1-11
How did Mary do it? She waltzed in her crowded home and lavished Jesus with her most expensive gift, a 12oz jar of nard. She poured out her beloved perfume and dumped the whole vessel out on Jesus. Then she went on to use her hair to wash her Savior’s feet. Surrounded by critics, she gutted herself. She was opening up the door for ridicule and judgment. But she didn’t care. Her eyes and heart were fixed on the one who saw her, ate with her, taught her, took time to defend her, and then the miraculous act of raising her brother from the dead.
Allow me some creative rights, would you? Sweet Mary had so much love for Jesus that she couldn’t hold her heart back any longer. Perhaps she felt the sand sliding fast through the hourglass and knew it was now or never. His words were consistently pointing to His death, and they were picking up speed. She had to show Him how much she loved Him. She looked around her bedroom, wondering what she could bring a King, the Messiah, the son of God. He needed nothing but was always asking for His followers to believe. And believe she did. Grabbing her bottle of expensive perfume, more than likely her dowery, she shoved it in her pocket and darted out her bedroom door. There was no way she wanted to tell her sister what she was thinking; Martha might talk her out of it or try to add to it, and this was her sacrifice.
She glanced around the room. Martha was being the perfect hostess, busy passing out appetizers while the men were talking amongst themselves. This party was for Jesus, and Mary brought Him the one gift she could think of that would show her faith. She wholeheartedly believed Jesus was the son of God, Emanuel, God with us. Maybe she was timid at first as she approached. Slowing moving through the crowded home, slipping past this person or that, and then she sees her Jesus. He was in the same place He was when He was teaching, as she sat at His feet the day Martha scolded her for being lazy. Mary smiled at the memory of Jesus coming to her defense, and her heart raced. She knew this was the moment. She was safe with her friend, her savior, her Jesus. He wouldn’t shame her for this wild act.
She approached Him and paused. Jesus looked at her and saw her heart and knew what was behind her nervous smile. Mary fell to her knees and poured the fragrant oil all over His feet. Her love for Him wasn’t romantic. It was deeper than that; it felt eternal, but somehow, she could sense her time was short. The tears welled up in her eyes and spilled over, dropping in large splashes. The room was permeated with the perfume and arrested every person’s senses. No one could smell the roasted lamb anymore. Mary hijacked the night. She didn’t say a word, but everyone heard what she was speaking. The oil mixed with her tears and the liquid offering was pouring out all over. She didn’t want to waste this gift and allow it to fall to the floor, so she uncovered her hair and let it fall to her master's feet. Scandalous! And then the most intimate of all offerings were given, she began to use her long locks as a cloth and washed His feet, spreading the perfume and her tears while her dignity was laid low.
Her face was down. She couldn’t see the expression of any of the guests, nor did she care. Her focus was fixed. If He was going to die, like He said He was, she would not have any regrets this night. She was going to lay it all on the line and be the first to anoint Him for what He came to do; die. A year’s worth of wages mixed with a lifetime of praise was lavished on the feet of Jesus. Maybe a few tears fell from some bystanders as they watch Mary extravagantly love Jesus. Perhaps others wished they had the guts to be so blazoned with their affection toward the one who changed their lives and the trajectory of their destiny. But it was a single woman who lived with her siblings and was known for going against the norm. She sat with men as Jesus taught. She couldn’t be bothered with baking bread when the bread of life was in her house. And once again, Mary’s wild ways caused Jesus to come to her defense.
“Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial” Jesus reprimands Judas, giving him one more reason to betray his rabbi. Judas could never fully receive the truth. He couldn’t grasp the fullness of Jesus and His teachings. He witnessed miracles firsthand but could not comprehend what this crazy woman knew; Jesus was going to die to defeat death and bring life. Jesus had been predicting it and telling it to them for months, John 10:12 “I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again.”
But the betrayer had no revelation of what offerings were or what it meant to humble oneself in the presence of God and give Him your all. Judas’s love for money robbed him of his time with Jesus and compelled him to put a price on the Messiah's head. Thirty pieces of silver are worth 185.00 today, and Jesus was covered in 54,000.00 worth of perfume in today's economy. Let that sink in for a moment. Mary gave at all cost and even offered her pride with her perfume. One sacrificed and one sold. One endured criticism, the other criticized. One was still lingering in the fragrance of her offering, while the other threw his payment away. One owned her day and lived with no regrets. The other sold his day and died with regret.
Today, we have the same choices. Might I recommend risking ridicule and rejection over regret? Can we be as bold as Mary and give our all while others judge the way we love our Savior? Perhaps our act of confidence and fearless faith will linger in a room and cause another to sense the change in the atmosphere because of our offering. Let’s live wild lives for Emanuel, God with Us!