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Friday, March 13, 2009

Flowers in southern Chile (photo by Patricia Hormabazal)
Bright Yellow Dahlias in Southern Chile
Photo by Patricia Hormabazal

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"Why This Waste?"

"When the disciples saw this, they were indignant!  'Why this waste?' they asked" (Matthew 26:8).

I grew up in the sixties, raised by parents who had both grown up through the Great Depression.  My mom especially was influenced by this experience during her formative years and to her last earthly breath remained very, very thrifty (some might say, miserly).  However I am very thankful for the example of my parents' resourcefulness and personal responsibility; two character qualities greatly lacking in our modern world.

I purposefully have provided very little context to the daily text.  Do you recall the occasion?  It's one of those passages that has always intrigued me.  (You can read the brief story in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.) 

Photo of Anointing at BethanySix days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany and he reclined at the table in the home of Simon the Leper.  A woman came to Him, well known in the community for her past sinful lifestyle, and was identified as Mary (John 12:3).  It would take a great deal of courage for her to appear at a banquet where she was an uninvited guest, her reputation was stained throughout the community, and she would have to carry out her extraordinary act of devotion in the presence of others. But, with absolute determination, she proceeded to pour out of her alabaster jar a very expensive perfumed ointment on Jesus' head. 

As she did so her tears began to flow like a cleansing fountain as they fell on Jesus' feet.  She then proceeded to wash His feet, not with water, but with her tears of gratitude.  She wiped them dry with her long hair.  A respectable woman did not unbind her hair in public, but she did, as she fully expressed her devotion and used it for utilitarian purposes.  Perhaps she'd planned to only pour out a portion of the perfume on Jesus' head as was the custom for an anointing. But the deep felt love and gratitude she felt toward Jesus moved her to pour out the remainder of the costly perfume on Jesus' feet (about a pint altogether).  Those who were observing this seeming public display began to mentally calculate that this expensive perfume was worth more than a year's wages.  Wow, that really was an expensive anointing!

Photo of Clive Christian #1 perfume bottleToday what is claimed to be the most expensive perfume in the world is Clive Christian No. 1 which retails for $2,350 for 30ml (1 ounce) of the pure perfume. I still think Cotillion, the Avon perfume Brooksyne wore while we dated, smells just great!

At this anointing the disciples were indignant and asked, "Why this waste?"  As I read the story I actually identify with this concern of the disciples.  They recognized the monetary value of the costly perfume and quickly calculated that this perfume could be sold and the proceeds used more nobly, given to the poor for instance.  Mark records that these disciples, "rebuked her sharply." 

At this point I find myself saying, "Way to go, Guys! Teach this woman that such extravagance is unnecessary and could be put to better use."  Surely Jesus, who loved the down and outers, would agree with such an assessment. (John's gospel cuts to the mustard when he points out by name the main instigator who was on Thrift Watch duty that evening was Judas and he provides the real motive:  "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it" (John 12:6).

But Jesus rebuked the disciples; "Leave her alone", He said.  He went on to commend the woman and point out a truth I am demonstrating in this very message: "I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her" (Mark 14:9).

This story is a reminder of the convoluted value system of the world.  What encouragement can we receive from its message today?  In what way might it spur us on to giving unreservedly in our devotion toward God?  To others, even believers, sometimes our act of devotion may seem extravagant or "a little over the top".  But fully surrendered hearts give more than just a token; they give until it hurts.  I want to have the heart of the Psalmist David in II Samuel 24:24, when he declared, "I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, I come to Your altar with thanksgiving and contrition as I offer You my whole heart and my life, past, present and future.  Use it for Your glory and set me apart for Your purpose as I live out my life here on earth. 

J. Hampton Keathley points this out: "Her actions obviously demonstrated her deep devotion and love for the Savior, but it also demonstrated her keen insight into His true identity and purpose. This is made clear by Christ’s own interpretation of her actions. What did she understand that the others had been insensitive and blind to? This act revealed she knew Christ as:
    1. King: Such an extravagant gift was only lavished on a king. This was very appropriate in view of the fact that on the next day He would proclaim Himself the King of Israel through his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
    2. Priest: John 12:3 and Mark 14:8 define this as an anointing. As priests were anointed, this is in keeping with the fact that Christ was a Royal Priest and was about to make atonement for His people.
    3. The Savior Who Must Die: As He had told the disciples that He must die, so He must have also told her. While they were unable to grasp this, Mary did. She undoubtedly recognized her sin and need of a suffering Savior and did this as an act of faith and devotion. She understood the reason for His death (her sin), and the significance of His death (her salvation).
A detailed study on the anointing at Bethany by J. Hampton Keathley

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"Broken And Spilled Out"  Video  Steve Green

"Lord, I Offer My Life To You"  Video  A wonderful song that surely expresses the heart of Mary, the one who poured costly perfume on Jesus' head and feet.  It should also express our heart's desire too.

"There Is Forgiveness" (Psalm 130:3,4) Audio from the Integrity Scripture Memory series. (Open this page and click on the play button.)

Here is a listing of the entire Scripture memory series mp3's.

Article on most expensive perfume.

Photo of Patricia Hormabazal

Today's flower photo was taken by
our friend Patricia Hormabazal,
who is originally from Chile, during a recent trip back to her homeland.  I have shared her photos the last two day here on Daily Encouragement Net. Below is a photo she took of a Chilean fishing village.

Fishing village in southern Chile (photo by Patricia Hormabazal)
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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