Today’s Reading – Mark 13-16
Mark 14:3 – And while he (Jesus) 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. (ESV)
What’s the most extravagant gift you have ever given or received at Christmas? Maybe it was an expensive piece of jewelry. If you have seen many commercials lately, apparently there is a market in our culture that isn’t afraid to give a new Lexus to the one they love at Christmas time. I don’t know that I’ve ever met such a person. Though our society views gifts like this as incredible, the Bible gives us an even greater picture of true love and commitment. The account of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus is found in all four gospels. This incredible act of love and thankfulness should help us consider the value we place on Christ in our lives.
This past summer I wrote an entry dealing with Luke’s account of this story. I spent some time discussing this story in detail. That post can be found here. Today, however, I want Mary’s example of sacrifice to encourage us during the season of Advent to consider what we are willing to give to One so worthy.
Mary’s gift to Jesus was an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard with a value of 3oo day’s wages. Pretty extravagant stuff. In fact, it was such a nice gift that some of those present grumbled about her gift being a “waste.” Jesus, however, is quick to rebuke those who held such a view. This gift was fitting for Jesus because he knew his death was quickly approaching.
She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. – Mark 14:8 (ESV)
If you were to give Jesus a gift this Christmas, what would it be? What do you give to the one who owns everything? What gift would you consider worthy of giving to Him?
- A promise to come to church every Sunday.
- A promise to be a better person.
- A fat check to a local charity.
Many times, people make the offer of these gifts in an attempt to win the favor of God. Some believe if they can just be better, that God will smile on them. They get this idea from human relationships. When an extravagant gift is given to a loved one, many believe this is a clear sign of their great love and expect something in return. The gift works toward making the relationship better. Most human relationships work on the “give and take” principle. I gave this gift, so now they owe me. Is this how relationships work in God’s economy? Not according to the gospel.
According to the gospel, you will never be able to place God in your debt. There is no level of sacrifice, service, or surrender that will force God’s hand to forgive you and welcome you into his holy presence. However, the good news of the gospel tells us the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by coming into this world, dying on the cross, and ultimately rising from the dead serves as an acceptable gift to purchase your freedom and forgiveness. The only thing required of those who would receive this gift and desire restored fellowship with their Creator is repentance (turning from sin) and faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done on our behalf.
Therefore, any gift that we would offer God finds its motivation in response to what he has already done for us. This is exactly what we see in the example of Mary and the alabaster jar. She wasn’t anointing Jesus’ feet in an attempt to earn something from him. She was responding to the love that Jesus had demonstrated toward her.
So, in light of this truth, answer the question again. If you could give Jesus a gift this Christmas, what would it be? If we understand all that Jesus has done for us then we would be led to offer him the most expensive thing we own…our very lives.
Rest in Jesus,