by Santosh Poonen
There came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But [the disciples] were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? (Mark 14:3-4)
Most people use this time of the year to reflect on the calendar year that is drawing to a close, and to make resolutions for the year ahead. As I reflect on the past year, I’m reminded of the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head and feet with perfume. An interesting note about this incident is that Jesus promised that wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she did would also be told (Mark 14:9). It’s almost as if Jesus was saying that the telling of the good news of God’s love for mankind through Christ must always be conveyed from the perspective of the devotion and love that this woman showed toward Jesus. It’s no surprise, then, that this incident is reported in all of the 4 Gospels.
Here was a woman who had been forgiven much. And in order to show her love for Jesus, she spent one full year’s salary (300 days earnings, according to v5) on an expensive bottle of Parfum du Nard (v3). She then broke the bottle open and poured out its entire contents to anoint Jesus’ head and feet. The disciples, being reasonable men, objected because the woman had wasted her entire year, as it were, on Jesus. I’m sure that if she had opted instead for the far cheaper “Day’s Wage Perfume”, or even the “Week’s Wage Perfume”, it wouldn’t have been as outrageous to the disciples. With the rest of her money she could have blessed many people, rather than wasting it all on Jesus alone. Jesus, however, not only defended her, He commended her: “She has done a good deed to Me. For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body” (v6-8).
So, the Lord asked me this question: “Did you waste this past year on me and my Body?” You see, wasting is greater than tithing (10%) – most Christians are satisfied with that Old Testament standard of giving to God. Wasting is even greater than giving – i.e., enough to meet 100% of the need – even by strictly New Covenant standards that’d be pretty good. Wasting means lavishing – 200%, or 300% or perhaps a 1000% of your life – for the sake of Christ and His Body. So much so, that to others it seems ridiculously extravagant!
Unfortunately, just like the super-spiritual disciples, many people would rather give their lives to “the poor” than waste it on Jesus. The Devil succeeds in leading many sincere Christians astray – or worse, into betraying Christ as Judas did (v10) – by appealing to their human compassion. If needed, he’ll even use preachers who sway them to tears with a staggering depiction of the genuine needs in the world around them. The human empathy that this evokes prevents them from wasting their lives on Christ and His Body alone. And, amid all their good humanitarian works, they end up entirely useless to God’s purpose on earth through Christ’s Body.
When we do waste ourselves on Christ, however, and function in the Church as His Body on earth, it is His compassion, not ours, that flows through His Body. Then we can be sure that God will approve our work, and the poor will truly be set free by the good news preached to them (Matthew 11:5).
So, I ask you the same question that the Lord asked me. Did you waste 2010? And, even if you didn’t, I hope you will waste 2011.
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