Today I turned in my devotion for our upcoming Lenten devotional book here at the church. It is a wonderful treasure of writings and art from members of our church and it is a blessing to read the thoughts and hearts of individuals that often don’t get the opportunity to share.
My devotion was based on the John 12:1-11 passage where Jesus is anointed with expensive oils by Mary, Lazarus’s sister.
Growing up, my sister and I had your normal sibling love/hate relationship. I can remember some fun times and I remember some passionate fights but when she left for college, our friendship blossomed and two years later when I followed her to college, we roomed together. We often made trips to Springfield, Missouri, for some “culture” and that included shopping. On one trip to Battlefield Mall, we walked past a store of paintings and prints and I was struck by one displayed in the window. It was a large print of a painting titled Reflections by Lee Teter of a man leaning against the Vietnam Memorial with soldier images reflected from inside “The Wall”. I fell in love with the print immediately and went in to see how much it cost. It was $60. It might as well have been $600 to this poor college student.
Several months later on my nineteenth birthday, I unwrapped the gift from my sister – still a college student herself. It was the print. I was in shock. What an extravagant gift for her to give to me! Especially when I could be such a brat of a sister. It is one of the few gifts that I’ve ever cried over – not because of how much it cost (which I felt bad about) but because I knew she loved me. She really loved me!
Mary loved Jesus. She really loved Him. So much so that she broke the alabaster jar and poured onto the feet of Jesus her most extravagant gift. The disciples were shocked at the waste of such expensive oils but they missed the point. This was a sacred moment with Jesus. Mary realized it. Mary sensed it. And Mary responded giving all that she had – the precious oils and herself – in love to Christ.
My sister broke the alabaster jar and gave me a cherished print – and her love. Today, that print hangs in my living room in a prominent place. When I look at it, I am moved not only by the story in the painting but by the story behind the painting as well.
What is in your alabaster jar? What is in mine? What is the most extravagant and sacrificial gift we can present to Jesus on this journey to the Cross to show our love for Him and Him alone?