Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 45

Wednesday: Jesus Is Anointed for Burial

by

Today's Text: Mark 14:3-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13

Scripture Reading: Mark 14:3-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13

I have always found sacrificing comes easily for me. It is the keeping of a good thing that feels so tenuous. I am always positive God is going to ask for the precious things, the most precious things, and so before I can be disappointed by their abrupt departure, I toss them into what I perceive to be His hands. Take my life, take all I am and all I will be, all I have and will have, is my oft-whispered prayer. This exercise, though, is less noble than it sounds at first—more the actions of a pauper unaccustomed to God’s goodness than a daughter of the Most High God.

What does it mean to hold on to a thing until the act of pouring it out is actually noble, actually costly? Even if the thing itself is held dear or is worth much, what does it mean to reserve it for the essence of its purpose instead of wasting it in dribbles and drops like a careless child carrying a cup of milk? How do we know what the difference between wasting a thing and pouring out a thing is, especially when they look so much the same?

The answer to all of these questions lies not in the vial of costly perfume nor the woman in this story, but in the Man over whose head she poured herself: Jesus, the perfect, all-sufficient, timely sacrifice, the one of greatest cost, greatest worth, and greatest value, pouring Himself out over the soon to die, decaying flesh of humankind.

This act of nobility Jesus pointed to was to redirect the incredulous gaze of the disciples for whom nobility looked like the rule and reign of an earthly king. Jesus wanted to show, once again, that nobility in the kingdom of heaven was the opposite of the expected norms. This broken woman pouring her broken flask over the soon to be broken body of her Savior—this is the way of the kingdom of God, Jesus was saying. Hers is a true act of generosity. She has done a noble thing for me,” He tells them (Mark 14:6).

God saved His precious expression of Himself in flesh for the most opportune moment, the best moment. He saved the costliest offering for the moment of maximum impact. The Bible says, “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). As this woman poured her alabaster flask over the head of her Savior, we are shown a picture of the emptying of a good thing for the best one, the greatest exchange: Christ’s death for our life.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • Peony Noirr

    ❤️

  • Lindsey Bailey

    What a beautiful reminder.

  • Marissa Burleson

    My heart is to continue to give and pour out the good things that I’m blessed with back to the one that gave them to me in the first place, to always bring Him praise and glory.

  • many years ago I had several spiritual experiences. One of them was experiencing HIS presence. It happened twice. How do I know? There was a very strong fragrance that i smelt and I was told by church friends that, it was the “Fragrance of Christ”. I often wondered since then the “how”, “why” of this “Fragrance”. Reading this passage today, I now know the answers to the “how” and “why” – it was the perfume that was poured over Jesus before he died and as Marlaena Guenther have commented earlier, “this lovely scent would have carried with HIM for a long time” Thank You for this new discovery :))

  • Sabrina Michelle

    Lord, I admire this lady and it is my desire to be so attentive to you in the same manner. With all the distractions around me, I want to remain focused on you. I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit and keeping me grounded.❤️❤️

  • Marlaena Guenther

    I love how this perfume is used to anoint Jesus for burial. This lovely scent would have carried with him for a long time, a reminder of Mary’s sacrifice and love for him. If this was Wednesday, and he died and was buried two days later, don’t you think an entire bottle of expensive perfume would have remained engrained in his skin through most of that time? Especially since they didn’t bathe regularly in those days?

  • Deborah Gee

    The verses from Mark 14 always remind me of a beautiful old song by CeCe Winans called Alabaster Box. A song of thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice.

  • Mary Abel

    Let me be so timely in my service for Him.

  • “It’s a beautiful thing when the worth of Jesus and the love of His followers match.” -John Piper

  • Thank you all for praying for me yesterday. For the most part all went to my favor however we have another court date May 1. For now I am thankful for all of you, all the godly women around me that are praying and of course my God who is giving me the strength to endure. I hope to look back one day knowing that this was for a purpose. I felt strong and and that’s only because of all you praying for me.

    • KimN

      Thank you for the update Mari. Thankful for His strength and goodness that are with you always! This journey may be uncomfortable and heartbreaking but if you continue to trust Him there WILL be something beautiful on the other side. I continue to pray for you and your beautiful family!

    • Churchmouse

      Prayers for strength, wisdom and peace will continue

  • This message today was like a love dagger straight to my heart. I have been SO stuck in a place of trusting God with my tithes and offerings, but simply always expecting to continue to be stuck. It’s a rut of stuckness and financial oppression that I put myself in. Yuck! This is not what God has planned for me as his daughter! I don’t have to push my portion to God and expect struggle with the rest. I GET to partake in his kingdom. I GET to bless others through the release of his goodness. Finally I get the greatest riches, his tangible and irreplaceable reckless love. Thank you lord!

  • Churchmouse

    “She has done what she could…” and even today we are talking about this woman’s sacrifice. Her legacy reached from then all the way to now and, I believe, will reach to the end of time. What could I possibly do that would have that kind of impact, that kind of result? What do I have that compares in value? With that costly perfume she had given a year’s wages, perhaps her entire savings. When I look at myself at my age, what I value most is my time because I don’t know how much I have left. I am nearer to the end of my life than the beginning. And I can so easily squander time, fritter it away. I confess I am too good at wasting time. Forgive me, Lord! Let me use my days talking about Jesus. The results are in the hands of the Holy Spirit but let it be said that I did what I could so that others might know Him. A holy gossip. Yes. Please. All glory to God.

  • One of the writings always impresses me more than the rest every time. This is that writing. Such a powerful word picture: pouring out

  • Evelyn Fahle

    Valerie, my parents had to let go of the control and anxiety of my life choices years ago. I was on a destructive path, but I had to go it alone and God was the only one who could save me from myself. I am his, so are your kids, and He is the only one in control! Now 4 years later- our family is stronger than ever and they could have never expected the beauty from ashes God has cultivated through my life. Just a little encouragement for you this morning!!

    • Chris Gruhlke

      This also encouraged me! Thank you for sharing.

    • Natasha Reyes

      My family’s story is very similar! My mother was trying so hard to keep us on the right path, but my brothers and I kept on straying (drugs, bad relationships…). Then God told her to surrender us to Him. She stopped trying to control our lives, but continued praying for us and loving us. Now we are all in our late 30s and early 40s, happy, fulfilled, productive, and with God in the center of our lives. And we are such a close family! I am so thankful!

  • Momtomany

    The reading of this story in John identifies this woman as Mary, Lazarus sister. She had just seen her brother raised from the dead by Jesus and she understands, more than the disciples, what Jesus was on earth for. She and Martha had to trust Jesus at his word when they rolled the stone away from their brothers grave, but Jesus told the if they believed they would see the glory of God.

    And now we see this precious, costly, beautiful gift being poured out in love for Jesus. Imagine the scene and the scent- beautiful to Jesus and indignant to those who were yet to fully believe and understand. Lord help my unbelief and trust you with open hands and an open heart.

    • Debi

      I wonder if this is the same incident? Oil on feet vs oil on head? I heard a sermon once that made them two different instances??

      • julie

        I was trying to figure this out myself. as well. I read the cross references on bible gateway and wasn’t completely sure. Can anyone offer further commentary? Thanks :)

        • Megan

          Hi! I just heard a sermon this this week and they were saying that it most likely was poured on husband head and feet. The authors of the gospel wrote different things because of what they thought was important and from their perspective of what they saw.

        • Jacqueline

          I was so curious about this too! I did some reading, and it seems these were different instances. If you’d like more reading on this I found this link really interesting and helpful:

          https://www.bibleserralta.com/TwoDifferentWomenAnointedJesus.html

          • Julie

            Thank you so much. This was very helpful and definitely cleared things up!

  • Leigh AnneAkey

    Today’s passage reminded me of this song, Broken and Spilled Out. (Recorded by Steve Green and written by Bill and Gloria Gaither)

    One day a plain village woman
    Driven by love for her Lord
    Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
    Disregarding the scorn
    And once it was broken and spilled out
    A fragrance filled all the room
    Like a pris’ner released from his shackles
    Like a spirit set free from the tomb

    Broken and spilled out
    Just for love of you Jesus
    My most precious treasure
    Lavished on Thee
    Broken and spilled out
    And poured at Your feet
    In sweet abandon
    Let me be spilled out
    And used up for Thee

    Lord You were God’s precious treasure
    His loved and His own perfect Son
    Sent here to show me
    The love of the Father
    Just for love it was done
    And though You were perfect and holy
    You gave up Yourself willingly
    You spared no expense for my pardon
    You were used up and wasted for me

    Broken and spilled out
    Just for love of me Jesus
    God’s most precious treasure
    Lavished on me
    You were broken and spilled out
    And poured at my feet
    In sweet abandon Lord
    You were spilled out and used up for Me
    In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out
    And used up for Thee

  • I was really convicted in reading this that I, like the author, tend to have an attitude that God is going to take things from me, so I better just turn away from them now. It carries over into my family, my friendships, my belongings, etc. and it impacts how I treat my things and the people I love and care about. I am scared to consider anything too valuable for FEAR God is going to take them from me, not because I desire to have the Lord in control.

    I need to realign my thinking. I need to realize that God has given me the blessings I have as a father gives good gifts to his children, and he’s not just toying with me or dangling a carrot in front of my nose. I need to trust that if God calls me to sacrifice something in my life, He is good and gracious to give me what I need to deal with it in that moment – I don’t need to protect myself. HE is my defense and my comforter.

  • Kimberly Hartzler

    Emily, I took it as a context for the 30 pieces of silver Judas was given to betray Jesus.

  • Amy Bilotta

    The last passage was the Old Testament prophecy that Jesus would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. I love that they paralleled the passage of Mary with Judas’ story, because it shows that two people who know Jesus can value Him very differently. Her perfume cost ten times what Judas sold Him for (which was the price of a mere slave, 30 silver coins). The longer I walk with the Lord, the more fascinated with Him I become and the more value I ascribe Him. Lord, show us the worth of the treasure we have in You!

    • Lisa Martin

      One other note, after ridden with guilt, Judas tried to return the money to the priests. They would not accept the “blood money” and used it to buy “the Potter’s field” for burials of foreigners.

  • Monica Davis

    Let me be a living sacrifice!

  • Valerie Hines

    The picture of pouring all that I have on Jesus, knowing how he has saved ME the worst of sinners places my heart back in his hands with complete TRUST!

    Oh how I love Jesus!

  • Maria Nilsson Swedem

    I’m thankful for the wtitings. Today sick and weak I long for His presence and beeing able to give him me and all relationships and all that I own. Love to them that read this.

  • Sarah Peterson

    How do we know what the difference between wasting a thing and pouring out a thing is, especially when they look so much the same?…I still don’t know the answer to this question…do y’all?

    • Missy

      Hey Sarah,
      As a filter for how to spend my time, or things our kids want to do, I often ask 1. Does it matter eternally? and 2. Does it pass the Philippians 4:8 test… “8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

      Obviously still some room for interpretation, but usually those two checks set me on a straighter course.

    • anna mcneese

      I was thinking the same thing, Sarah. Could it have to do with gratefulness and trust in our Good Lord rather than fear of a distant master?

      • Christy

        I think the point of the writing today was that our gifts, sacrifice, and service are not wasted when given to something with proper value. Mary valued Jesus, so she poured out her expensive ointment to the one who in return poured out his body for us. She gave to what she knew was of most significance. Judas thought it was a waste because he valued the temporary, the money. The money was more important to him than Jesus.
        It goes to our motivation…when I give (or do anything), even to to the church, do I give for me? for recognition? out of guilt? out of duty? Or do I give because I want my earthly work to be sacrificed to the mission of the gospel of Jesus? Do I work for something bigger and much more significant than myself (the mission of Christ) with pure motives?
        Those were just my takeaways…hope it helps!

    • Carly

      Sarah, I struggled with the same question this morning. I’m such a “doer”, and even though I’ve grown up most of my life as a daughter of God, I still daily find myself trying to earn my salvation. So when this question wasn’t directly answered, I was almost mad. I thought to myself- how do I do this right, how do I sacrifice the right way? How do I submit to Jesus enough to where He loves me?

      Then it hit me- her answer is THE answer- Jesus. I must seek HIS righteousness, not my own. When I look at His sacrifice, any sacrifice I’ve ever made is nothing in comparison. Some days it’s hard to wrap my head around, and I’m sure my mind will wrestle with this all day. But Jesus is understanding, loving, and so forgiving. His sacrifice and love can allow me to freely turn over the valuable things in my life- my marriage, my time, my money- to Him, not just because He’s called me to, but because I want to trust Him with those things.

      Praying that God gives us a spirit of understanding.❤️

  • Leslie Limardo

    I had a hard time understanding what this meant. How do i “invest” in Jesus? He doesn’t need anything from me. He invest and pours into me. But as I was praying this morning I got it. These past few months have been a world wind of busy. Things happening at work, at home etc. The best time I could give was in the evenings when i was barely awake. I used to get up early but because of all of the extra work spent late nights up unable to get up early. But my best investment in my relationship with Jesus is getting up extra early and spending that time because I’m at my best and can give more. I miss that time together. For me that’s what i can do.

    • Erin Soles

      Being a stay at home mom with little ones always vying for attention, and working from home, I could have written this word for word. Time seems to be the most precious of things that I hold near and dear right now. In this season of busy and chaos, Jesus has gotten my leftovers. What a good, good father we have, that no matter how out of sorts my priorities are, his grace is never ending. Thank you Jesus that no matter how miserably I might fail today, you still lavishly pour out your love on me! Break me today Jesus, break my agenda, break my plans, so that I might seek the very best thing…You!!

  • I was reading that she didn’t need to break the flask. She could have poured the ointment out, but it was a thick ointment and she wanted to get every drop out of the crevices and leave none behind.
    In the same way, I need to be broken and give up every drop of myself, not just the easy part.

    • Brandi

      ❤️

    • anne jones

      Yes, thank you for your comment Bessie. I want to give up everything as well and know I fall short in those things I subconsciously or at times consciously have not TRULY given up.

    • Mari

      Never saw it that way Bessie this is beautiful

    • Lizzieb85

      Hm, interesting. I have heard that the jar was sealed & that once it was open, one could not close it again. The only way to open it was to break it. Therefore, it must all be used at once.

      Both can be right. The point is the same: ALL or nothing.

  • Verse 8 stands out even more to me: “She has done what she could.” Whether it´s some coins or a costly perfume – God sees right into our heart. And what really matters to him is whether we did what we could.

  • Ruth Lund

    Lord I pray that you will show me how to empty myself of those good things in order to gain the best thing – You! I hold on to worldly things because I don’t trust you completely. Show me how. I remember times when that complete trust had been easier – usually in the darkest of days when I have seen clearly that you really are the only answer – but help me to see this every hour of every day, even in the lighter seasons when the load of life is lighter.

    All I need is you. You. YOU!

    Amen.

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