I have been reading chapter twenty six of the gospel of Matthew which records the events leading up to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. In amongst the stench of betrayal and hatred, Matthew looks back to a time in Bethany, a few days earlier, when he and the other disciples were in Simon's house with Jesus. The scent of spikenard, a precious costly anointment used to anoint bodies for burial, would still linger on His person. He would remember how that during the meal, Mary had entered the room, broken open a new casket of this immensely expensive oil and poured the lot, all over His head. There was so much of it that it trickled down His body and His feet instantly filling the air they breathed with it's intoxicatingly, heavenly scent.
Everyone was aghast. 'What a waste' they had said indignantly - 'that should have been sold and given to charity'. They thought that investing in worship and demonstrating love for the Saviour was a waste of money. But they were missing the point. Lazarus, Mary's brother was in the room that day. Yet only a few days before, absolutely distraught, Mary and her sister Martha had anointed Lazarus's dead body with oil, wrapped him in grave clothes and participated in the burial service. By the time the Lord Jesus finally arrived three days later, Lazarus's body had already declined into stinking decay, all hope gone. Yet, they had stood with the Lord Jesus at the mouth of Lazarus's burial chamber and heard Him shout 'Lazarus come forth' and so he had, wound up in burial clothes, yet not a whiff of death upon him. 'Loose him and let him go' the Lord had said, and so they had, and so he sat with them at that meal, talking and eating like everyone else. Sorrow had turned to unconfined joy.
Mary knew, that if the Lord was to be crucified, it was entirely His choice. Death had no claim upon Him. She recognised Him as the holy Son of God, sent into the world to voluntarily lay down His life, as a perfect sacrifice to take away the stench of sin and death and hell for all those who wanted forgiveness from God. She showed her appreciation and ensured that the scent of spikenard would linger upon His body all through His sacrificial suffering until the time that He too rose again, breaking the bond of death forever. The Lord made it clear that He understood, silencing her critics and declaring that wherever the gospel is preached, her act of faith and love should be told as a memorial of her.
What will you and I be remembered for I wonder? A life centred upon Christ? That is the only way to eradicate the stench of sin and be fit for the kingdom of heaven. I pray that the scent of Mary's worshipful act of appreciation will stir your heart today.
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