Bible Commentary: “An Alabaster Jar” The Days Of Lent

March 19, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Bible Commentary | Leave a comment
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“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 NIV)

In Matthew 26:7, Mark 14:3, Luke 7:37 and John 12:3 we read the account of the woman, whom John identifies as Mary (the same Mary Mark identifies in 16:5 and Luke in 8:2 as Mary Magdalene, the woman whom Jesus cast seven demons out of). The accounts tells us that when Jesus was in Bethany, where Lazarus lived with his two sisters, he was invited to the home of Simon the Leper for dinner along with Lazarus and his sister Martha, who served. During the course of this dinner this Mary Magdalene comes with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, which she breaks and then pours this perfume on His head. She also kneels at His feet and washes the feet of Jesus with her tears and then dries them with her hair.

Judas, the disciple who betrays Jesus, is outraged at this extravagant waste of expensive perfume and remarks that it could have been sold for much and feed the poor (but Judas is a thief as well as a betrayer and really wanted the money). Simon also has a problem. It seems that Mary Magdalene was a woman who lived a sinful life (Luke 7:37 NIV) as well as having seven demons cast out of her so Simon objected to her even touching Jesus, “When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39 NIV).  In each gospel Jesus rebukes those that are being harsh to her and remarks that “she has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matthew 26:10 NIV, Mark 14:6 NIV) anointing His body beforehand for His burial (John 12:7, Matthew 26:12, Mark 14:8).

However, in Luke Jesus tells His host a story and then asks a question: “Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”  “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:40-47NIV)

What did Mary Magdalene do that was so important that both Matthew and Mark state, “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” (Matthew 26:13 NIV, Mark 14:9 NIV)? She praised God in extravagance!! She took a year’s wages, not a year’s worth of savings, all that she had earned before taxes and paying bills and used it all for Jesus. She also washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair – would you ever consider doing this for someone? Why?  Because it’s unheard of! No one loves someone else that much. Yet, she did and she showed her love freely to Him in front of everyone no matter how harsh His friends were with her she never stopped. She praised Him with all her being and she was rewarded for it.

Child of God – We don’t have a literal alabaster jar to break and pour on Jesus but we do have our praise and that no one can ever take away from us. In Revelation we learn that our prayers are mixed with incense and offered on the altar to God (Revelation 5:8, Revelation 8:3, Revelation 8:4). Why are our prayers so important? This would take forever to answer but the simple answer is that our prayers are mixed with praise. Take for example the prayer of Daniel, “I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers” (Daniel 2:23 NIV). This is how we should pray, with thanksgiving and praise. With all our strength pour out to God our love and adoration! Too often we just intone a list of needs for others and ourselves and call that prayer but God wants more than that from us. He wants our extravagance!

Our prayer:
Lord, forgive me for not giving you the praise that you deserve all the time. You are the rock of Ages that cannot be moved. Stable and faithful, perfect and Holy. Light and truth. Always loving, always forgiving and merciful. Our circumstances and feelings change, but you never change. Therefore, you deserve to be praised forever. Amen.

If you want to have a personal relationship with Jesus as your Lord and Savior pray: “Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and that out of love for me you willingly sacrificed your life so that I may live. I repent of all my sins and open my heart to you as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer for the first time or if you have any questions please contact us. We would love to hear from you.


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