Quite a while ago, I read Angie Smith’s book, I Will Carry You. I posted a few things from it at that time, but I have been holding on to it (it is a friend’s) to copy a few more of my favorite excerpts. At the time these really spoke to me and gave me a lot more insight into Mary (the sister of Lazarus) and what her sacrifice really meant. Hope you enjoy…
Years ago a pastor at the church we were attending gave a message about what happened after the resurrection of Lazarus. His sermon contained some of the most profound and moving thoughts I have ever heard about the story of Christ.
Days after his [Lazarus’] resurrection a celebration was held in honor of Jesus. Everyone was gathered around the Lord when Mary shattered a bottle of perfume and wiped the lavish scent across His feet with her hair. The scent was to be used in a society where bathing was not frequent, so this particular nard was extremely pungent. A few drops would have been more than enough, but without regard to cost or what those around her might think, she simply poured it all out as an act of pure worship. Many have speculated that Mary was preparing her beloved Savior for His death and burial, but our pastor went on to explain that the scent of the perfume surely would have been on His skin a few days later when He was beaten and crucified. So, in essence, every time a Roman soldier’s whip hit Him, the scent of Mary’s worship was released and rose all around Him; a reminder of Who He was.
Come with me for a moment to the feast where dozens are gathered around this mysterious, glorious Jesus. As the celebration roars around Him, many people seem oblivious to what lies ahead. Whether or not Mary knew what the next several days would entail, we do not know. What we do know is that she could think of nothing in that moment other than an act of absolute devotion and worship.
In the midst of a room full of people, she went to the feet of Jesus. This may not seem like a noteworthy event, but for many reasons it was. Not the least of which was the fact that it was not considered culturally appropriate for her to be sitting at His feet. In addition, Jewish women were not to take their hair down in public. Biblical scholars have suggested that this was her way of acknowledging her unworthiness before the Lord.
While Martha was busy serving the guests, Mary pulled the pins out, hair tumbling around her, and bowed low to her Savior. I must admit, I am typically either busy doing what Martha was doing, fretting over everything being right, or I am paying attention to the rules. It occurred to me how rarely I ignore everything that demands my attention, everything that tells me how I should act, and sit in pure love with eyes only for Him. What a glorious image.
I don’t believe her actions was simply a reflection of her gratitude over the life of Lazarus because the setting and way the events unfold communicated an inherent heaviness as she pours the perfume. It doesn’t feel totally celebratory to me. It feels like letting go.
Regardless of whether or not He has saved her brother, she would have worshipped Him. She loved Him because of Who He was to her, not what He had done for her. She had put her full trust in Him, and that is why she spilled the bottle at His feet. Despite the criticism she received, the Lord recognized what she was doing and commended her. Nothing in this world is of any value unless it is given freely and with abandon to Him, just as Mary’s offering was given….
…Just as quickly as she had celebrated her brother’s resurrection, Mary stood, watching Jesus be crucified. She watched as He was mocked by the crowds of people who hated Him. She saw the wounds He carried when He was lifted into the air by soldiers giddy with the anticipation of death.
I have to let myself be where she was in order to embrace the depth of sacrifice. I naturally want to distance myself from the horrific truth, but in every thorn in the crown they forced on His head, there is a truth I need to allow to settle on my brow. We serve a God who is aware of our suffering.
As Mary and the others who loved Jesus watched HIm, they were overcome with desperation. The Lord Himself cried out in hurt, and they stood helpless, watching as the breath of this life left Him. At some point she left the site of the crucifixion and, I imagine, wandered the streets in sadness to visit and mourn with friends and family.
Here is the part you may not have considered before now. Everywhere she went, every step of the way, she was followed. Every person she came into contact with, every stranger who saw her cry, every home she entered was being filled with something intangible, a gift that would be with her for many days to come. It was the scent of love for her Savior, and it was caught in her hair.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the beauty of this image. She was carrying with her an invisible yet ever-present reminder of who He was to her. Without a single word she told His story over and over again. I want that…