Martha looks so happy! She’s not just serving tonight. She is floating! Her face, radiant. Never did I think filling cups and serving food could look like such fun. Or, so much like…worship! How wonderful that my sister has found such peace!
I know I should be helping Martha right now, but I can’t help but watch him.
I can’t help but wish that everyone here, that everyone everywhere, could discover such peace. To discover…him.
How I wish I could tell others of the peace I have found at his feet. Of the wisdom I have found in his words. Of the love I have found from being seen by his eyes. I feel as though I might burst if I don’t share what I have found!
As if aware of my thoughts, Jesus lifts his head to look at me. My heart takes flight as he smiles. And my longing suddenly intensifies. Oh, I want to tell the whole world of what I have found in him!
But I am just a woman. I’m not allowed to even speak in public, and certainly not to a man—well, except Jesus, of course. But he is unlike any other man—any other person—I have ever known. He asks me questions. And invites my response! And when he listens, oh, it’s as if he believes my thoughts are somehow more important than those of the Pharisees! Can you imagine such a thing!
My heart begins to beat wildly as a question stirs inside of me.
Does he know?
Does he know how much I love him?
Does he know how much he has given me?
I want him to know. I need him to know. I want to thank him—but how?
What can I possibly offer him?
I am no one.
I have nothing.
The bag on my arm suddenly feels heavy. The weight of the alabaster jar I carry lowers my shoulder. The jar contains my life savings, in the form of costly perfume. I brought it tonight to give to Jesus. After all, what need do I have for it? He is all I need. I figure the money the perfume is worth would go a long way to support his ministry. To help others learn of him.
But now, as I watch Jesus converse with those at the table, I detect a weariness in his eyes. It’s a weariness, a weightiness, unlike any I’ve ever seen in him before.
As I fill my lungs with air, words he has spoken over the years begin to fill my mind. They were words I had tried to ignore. Words I had not wanted to understand, for they always seemed to hint at something awful.
Poured out…broken….destroyed….rebuilt….suffer….lay down my life.
My head snaps up.
My eyes meet his.
And in that moment I know.
I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that my precious, perfect, glorious Savior is about to lay down his life. For me. For us.
My feet begin to move of their own accord.
I have to do something.
What do you offer someone who has given you everything, and is about to give you even more?
Acting on an instinct born deep within my soul, I pull my alabaster jar from my bag and break it. Suddenly, the only thing that matters is pouring out all I have on the One who will soon pour out everything for me.
Tears flow freely down my face. I couldn’t stop them if I tried, and I have no desire to try. Instead, I allow them to flow as freely as the perfume I pour upon his head, his feet.
Oh his precious feet. The feet beside which I have sat so many times. Learning from him. Being changed by him. Being seen by him.
Sobs erupt from my body; and perfume and tears mix with the dirt and sand on his feet.
His precious feet shouldn’t be dirty. They are the feet of pure love. But I have no cloth with which to clean them. All I have is…my hair.
Without a second thought I unbind it, sending it cascading around my shoulders and down my back.
There is a gasp somewhere behind me. I don’t care. Let them say what they want. They always do anyway.
The only one who truly matters is looking at me with more love than I thought possible.
He smiles and I am undone.
I want to beg him to not do what he is about to do. And yet, in the depths of my heart I know he must.
He nods, confirming what my heart knows to be true.
I bow my head, knowing this will be my last act of worship before he does what he came to this earth to do.
And so I pour every drop of my costly perfume on him. If he is about to give himself up—if he is about to suffer and die for me, then he will do so with the fragrance of my worship lingering on his skin.
The room is silent.
The jar is empty.
My life savings is now anointing the body of my Savior.
If only I had more to give.
“Daughter, it is enough,” he whispers, his eyes meeting mine. “Thank you.”
My breath catches in my throat.
The sacred moment is interrupted by disgruntled voices. Voices thick with indignation and greed.
“What did you do, you silly woman?!” One voice calls out above the rest. “That could have been sold and the money given to the poor!”
My shoulders fall as the words hit their intended mark. Embarrassment taunts me. Am I just a silly, wasteful, emotional woman?
“Leave. Her. Alone.”
The authority with which Jesus speaks overwhelms the room—and my mind—with silence. He places his hand on my shoulder. His touch, an anchor for my heart.
“Why are you bothering her?” he asks those at the table. “She has done a beautiful thing to me. You will always have the poor among you. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could, and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.”
Jesus turns his attention back to me—to where I still sit at his feet. He wipes a tear from my face, then places his hand back on my shoulder.
“I tell you the truth,” he says to everyone in the room; his eyes fixed on mine. “Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
A knowing grin raises the corners of Jesus’ lips, and a silent gasp shutters through my body.
He knows of my hidden dream to teach others as I have been taught! He knows of my longing to tell the world of the love I have for him! Of the peace I have found in him!
Could it be that with one sentence, one declaration, Jesus just made me—silly, simple, female Mary—a teacher?!
His grin spreads into a full blown smile as he nods and whispers, “Many will learn from you my precious daughter. Many will learn from your beautiful act of worship.”
I would have fallen to the floor if not for Martha’s arm around my shoulders. I somehow manage to stand. Needing to touch him one last time, I grab his hand. The strength and power I feel there leaves me breathless. But as I pull my hand away, that strength lingers—it spreads. It burrows into my soul.
Martha and I bow to Jesus then retreat to the kitchen, clinging to one another.
We know dark days are coming, and we suspect they are coming soon. But we will not think about that tonight.
No, tonight is a night for worship.
A night for rejoicing.
A night to bask in the fragrance of sacrifice and love.
Tonight is a night to remember.