After speaking last week about the potential the church has to create a famous person,
this week we look at fame God produces, not man.
Matthew 26:6-13 tells one of three accounts found in the gospels: Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.
John’s account of this story (John 12:3-7) reveals the woman is Mary , as in the Mary and Martha story when Mary chose to sit at Christ’s feet instead of set the table. (Luke 10:39-42) This same Mary was led to bring her best perfume in its best container and pour it out on Christ’s head.
The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
People wagged their tongues and fingers at her. They had a whole lot to say about what would have been a better use of her possessions.
But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me?
Jesus called the “waste” good.
You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial.
Since Mary is described as one “who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said,” (Luke 10:39), I am wondering if her attentiveness allowed her to comprehend Jesus was going to be crucified soon. After all, she had been listening and is portrayed as someone capable of stilling the busyness.
I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
And here it is. I just blogged about her on January 17, 2020. This woman’s deed is being remembered and discussed. As tongues wagged in gossip and judgment on the perfume-poured-out day, God saw the truth of the scene and her act was captured up into His eternal story and now lives forever. And this, my friends, is the glorious news for all who know Christ. Every act of obedience we do by faith
Nothing is wasted in God’s economy when the heart is pure, the faith is present, and obedience occurs. Even the small stuff no one sees, like when you are bone-tired and your child needs care. You die to the comfort of sleep and bring your full attention to love the hurting. You hug your child while lovingly saying prayers into his or her ear. You gently dry tears in the dead of night. Your efforts are your most expensive perfume. You are giving everything you have, pouring out your life to honor Jesus by responding in the way He has asked.
The big sacrifices the others dismiss as small are also captured. You give all the money you have – $50. It feels like $5,000 to you, but then you watch others get praised for giving more than you. Makes us feel invisible, but God knows the true cost of each act. He knows it was expensive perfume. Tongues can wag all they want about giving less than the wealthy,
but God knows exactly what it costs.
When I taught from Hebrews 11 a few years back, a phrase stood out to me. I still don’t know quite what to do with it, but I know it’s grand. I am reminded again this week: Some were jeered at [there go those tongues again], and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:33-36)
Jeered at, harmed, imprisoned, stoned and sawed. Destitute, oppressed and mistreated.
And “they were too good for this world.”
I have been realizing how little I know about what I am seeing. What looks awful can be good. What looks amazing can be ugly.
Only God knows the truth.
All we can do is get up each morning and continue to live for His Kingdom; continue to do everything for His name. No matter how small we feel; no matter what people think or say; what we do by faith in Christ, in the power of His Spirit, is somehow swept up into eternity and lives forever.
Only God knows who is worthy of fame.
Turns out, we are all worthy in the kingdom of God.
Picture Explanation: This very messy basket sits next to the chair in which I curl up to study and pray. I thought I would show you some of the goodies in the basket, each of which I have touched so far in 2021. I am enjoying all kinds of group studies and discussions with amazing ladies via Zoom, one of the better parts of staying home more. My list of people I know with COVID is growing. I am praying.
Note: There is a perfume account in each of the four gospels. This post was written from the majority perspective that the lady appearing in Matthew, Mark and John was Mary because Christ’s remarks to her are similar in each account. The lady in Luke stands out as distinct because she anoints Christ’s feet (not head) and Christ’s remarks to her are about hospitality and forgiveness of sins not found in the other three accounts. No matter the particulars you align with, I believe the principle addressed today remains intact even for this passage alone.
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