Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Aroma of Sacrifice

Some of my good friends could probably tell you that every so often I get obsessed with someone from Scripture. For a while, it seems, God will keep sending Scriptures my way that emphasize a particular Bible character. Sometimes, it can even be someone really obscure. Several months ago, that person was Balaam; it seemed that every time I studied my Bible I found Scriptures to do with him. (Did you know that besides being listed in the story in Numbers, he is also spoken of at least 6 or 7 other times throughout the Bible?) Another was David, then Jeremiah, then Barabbas (hopefully I will be able to share some of my thoughts on him soon), and now Mary.

For a long time, now, I have almost been jealous of Mary. She was able to be with Jesus, touch Him, and show Him her devotion in person:

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:1-7)

How I have wished that I could also kiss the feet of Jesus and prove to everyone how much I love Him!! What an amazing sacrifice that she gave, to literally pour out all of her savings in loving Him.

On my hour drive to school, I usually listen to a sermon. Not really noticing what I was putting in my CD player, yesterday I popped in one that I hadn’t heard in a while. It ended up being on this very passage, and God spoke to me so much through it. Some of the things I realized where things the preacher said, but most of them were just things God told me in my heart.

First of all, I don’t need to be jealous of Mary, because I can do the same thing for Jesus even now! Mary’s devotion was shown, not by what she did, but her attitude in doing it. It was willingness to give up everything for Christ. She even gave up her dignity, because in that time, for a Jewish woman to uncover her hair was degrading. Also, the very cost of the perfume was a huge sacrifice. It says it was worth about “three hundred denarii”, or three hundred day’s worth of wages (almost a year’s salary!!). If you consider that here in the US, minimum wage is $6.55, three hundred days of working only eight hour shifts would mean that a worker would make about $15,720!! And this is what she “wasted” on Jesus.

Second, when we sacrifice something this costly for Jesus, it is an aroma to the world. It says in verse 3, “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” Everyone who was near knew what she had done, and how much she had given up for her Savior. Even those around her considered it a “waste” she knew that her Savior was worth so much more.

Third, Mary did not give any thought to what those around her would think or what she was sacrificing. She knew that she would be thought of as crazy, but she did not care what others thought. I’m sure she felt just as Paul, when he later said, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8).

Fourth, from great trial comes great love. Look at what had happened only a chapter before. Jesus had allowed Lazarus to die (verse 6), then raised him from the dead. If Jesus had simply healed Lazarus, do you think that Mary would have felt such love for Him? But oh, He raised him from the dead!! How could she help but love Him with everything she had? I am sure that this is why Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. At the time, it didn't seem loving, but He knew that the greater blessing was for them to feel the greatest possible love for Him.

We should all be like Mary. We can all come before Jesus, and pour out everything we have, even if it means losing our worth before other people in loving Him. He is worth it all!! I want my love for Him to be an aroma of sacrifice, just like Mary’s.

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