Mary and Her Perfume
Last night my devotion Scripture was on the last part of John 11 and the first part of John 12. It was where Jesus was being hosted at Martha, Mary, and Lazarus’ place, and Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with her perfume of pure nard and wiped with her hair. The background story leading to this occurrence was the incredible raising of Lazarus. The whole drama behind this could take up a whole sermon. Jesus, the Son of God, died and was raised within three days. Lazarus was dead, buried, for four days, as a sinner saved by grace. Jesus’ death and resurrection was prophesied hundreds of years ago again and again, but Lazarus did not even needed to die. Jesus knew he was sick, Jesus tarried on purpose, Lazarus died, and died more days than Jesus’ own. However, for me, the punchline was, Jesus loved Lazarus.
Anyhow, so after reading this portion of verses carefully, I was especially attracted to Mary’s anointing of Jesus part, so I re-read those verses again and again, meditatively. I was drawn so deeply and with a divine curiosity. Mary was doing that to prepare Jesus’ burial, and especially in complete appreciation for the life of her brother. She was the girl who used to sit before Jesus’ feet and listened intently at the words of Jesus. Now she’s anointing and wiping His feet. While others are arguing over who’s the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven most of the time, she understood Jesus’ true feelings.
The fragrant spikenard oil was very costly, especially to a woman. It was the dowry of the bride in those days. Its worth is about a worker’s one-year wage. The hypocritical Judas of course said what a waste, better to give to the poor; at least it’s a safe religious facade. Sure, he stole money from the fund, he will get some for himself by giving to the poor. Jesus replied, the poor you have always, but Me you do not have always, so leave her alone. I just think it’s all a love story. The smell of the perfume filled the whole house. Those words lingered in my heart for the whole night before I went to bed.
I kept asking myself and Jesus, what is that very expensive fragrant pure nard in my life that I may give you. It’s so costly that once you used it, you have no more, but it was ok, it was ok even when a bride would have no perfume with her. Well, I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like giving your whole life to somebody’s kind of love, maybe women would understand this thing I’m trying to paint better.
But while I was meditating on these verses, I saw something. I saw the name “Mary." A gentle nudge inside of my heart reminded me, I just made a decision to call a girl named “Mary" on this exact day. It was her birthday, and I think not many noticed that and said that to her in church today. Not on purpose though, people just don’t know I guess. It was our Chinese New Year special celebration Sunday too. In any event, I especially remembered that after I called her and said “Happy Birthday" to her, I felt something stirred in my spirit, and that something in Heaven is happening. I don’t really know how to explain this spiritual sensation, but it was there somehow. So after reading this Scripture, I prayed some prayer for Mary and went to take a shower.
I was asking myself and God what is my very costly pure nard all the time. Would I be able to give that to Jesus without regret? In my heart I am willing, but I don’t know if once God showed me, I would be as willing. But I kept asking and pondering, because my heart wanted to give. Then it dawned on me, the velvet-like softness of the Spirit on the inside said — “Mary." Just one whisper, just one thought, just the mention of one name, and I knew exactly what the Holy Spirit meant. Sometimes one word or picture can convey a whole love story of a thousand words, and time seems to stand still forever. I don’t think I described well tonight in this writing, but it’s just like the “moment of truth" in the dramas, where the lovers found out true love is there. When true love comes, it humbles all of us, doesn’t it?
The very costly perfume nard that Jesus asks of me is a simple but genuine care for people. As I do unto them, I do unto Jesus, and hence poured out that most precious and costly love in the whole universes of God. There’s no regret. That’s what Jesus showed me. I dedicated my life to Jesus over and over again before, and especially the past six months with a perpetual brokenness and surrendering. But every single time, it still felt like I died a thousand times and said “I am willing" a thousand times and it would still not be enough. I know I will stumble and I have and I will fail in love sometimes, sometimes terribly, but I will keep going forward. He has taught me that this in itself is a part of love, for love will endure to the very, very end, and is courageous in adverse circumstances and painful moments.
One finishing touch. I’ve been asking God to anoint me for the work of His ministry. Only His anointing accomplish His works, apart from Him, I can do nothing, absolutely nothing at all. Oh I knew this so well, I cannot do anything apart from the anointing of God. But this night He wanted me to anoint Jesus instead. Me anointing Jesus? I’ve never thought about this before. God wanted me to anointed Jesus before He will anoint me, in order for His anointing to stay true and pure in my life. He gave me this call to anoint Jesus with my costly fragrant perfume nard. Keep pouring out this pure perfume nard, and I will never run out because love never dies. That’s the reason Jesus said what this woman has done will be told for all the eternities. Jesus’ heart was touched and anointed.
Did you hear that gentle, sweet voice of Jesus, spoken through the Spirit within?
When Love’s present, His fragrance will fill the whole place
I’m so engulfed by it that I almost missed it.
The heart of God is
“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." — Jesus Christ (Mark 14:9 — cross reference John 12)
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