LIFE GIVING CHRISTIAN
"A victorious Christian life is not a superior brand of Christianity reserved for the elite of this elect. It is normal for every Christian" (Ronald Dunn). As I meditate on the story in the gospel of Mark about the woman who came to Jesus and poured the expensive perfume on Him, it brings a deep interpretation of a Christian giving her life to her Saviour (Mk.14:1-9). These are a few things which we can learn from her life.
Brings Valuable Perfume
Have you noticed that important people who have done great things in the Bible are nameless? Here is a woman who did a great thing for Jesus and we are not even told her name! Now John tells us it was Mary, and most people think it was the same incident as in John 11:1-8 and Matthew 26:6-13. But it is by no means certain that it was the same occasion. However, Mark and Matthew see no need to mention her name, which teaches us that our good deeds should be done anonymously!
According to some scholars, the price of this flask of oil was the salary of a person for one year. So we can understand very well the value of the perfume.
When people usually come to Christ, they want something for themselves, their family or loved ones, but very few people bring something for Jesus. What does the Lord Jesus want from us? What can a Christian give His Saviour? Jesus wants the most valuable thing, that is, a life submitted completely to Him.
Jesus said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt.16:25). A key to understanding this verse in a deeper way is to take a closer look at the word ‘save.’ This is the word sozo in the Greek text, and its meaning is ‘to keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger, to heal and cure, to preserve.’ Many times, when we read this word in the Bible, we only think of it in terms of ‘being saved’ spiritually and its meaning for our eternal life in the sweet by and by. However, this word speaks strongly of our rights in this life on earth, here and now!
We live in a self-help, self-realisation world. People everywhere are getting caught up with all kinds of self- preservation techniques. Oh, how we wander through life searching for happiness, love, peace and acceptance! And in our own struggle to achieve this, many times we have only come away with more wounds and grief. The soul part of man always seeks its own way, and does not want to yield or submit to anyone, much less the ways of God. The soul is the seat of pride and arrogance, and it is the place where feelings desire to rule, which can cause us to make decisions that are not always healthy for our spiritual growth. The soul of man must be brought under subjection and submission to the Lord if we are ever going to realise the true blessings of God in our lives. Take a look at 1 Peter 2:25, which makes this point very clear: "For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." Our souls were designed to have a spiritual overseer. If we have made Jesus our Saviour, but not our Lord, another spiritual overlord will take that place, and he comes to steal and to kill and to destroy (Jn.10:10). This is one of the main reasons why so many Christians struggle in so many areas emotionally. Today we see lust and anger at an all time high, yes, even within the church! While people are saved, they have not put Jesus in the first place within their lives. They are not in the Word daily, nor do they spend time with the Master developing their relationship with Him--He is simply not Lord to them, or their Shepherd and Overseer! Remember, Jesus is the Word of God (Jn.1:1-14). To submit to Jesus is to submit to His Word. "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’" (Jn.8:31-32).
Broke The Jar
She broke the seal of the box. The precious ointment had seals of wax; breaking the glass was impractical and could cause injuries! What does it mean to ‘break the jar’? a) It shows that when it is broken for the Lord Jesus, it should not be utilised for any other person. b) It shows that this only brings glory for the Lord Jesus Christ. c) It shows that the value of this oil is not more than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians we give our life to the Lord Jesus with brokenness. Our life is only to be used for His glory and honour, and only He will be glorified through our life.
Jesus likes the people who come towards Him with broken hearts. "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psa.34:18). "He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds" (Psa.147:3). "For this is what the high and lofty One says--He who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’" (Isa.57:15). The Apostle Paul defines brokenness in a Christian life, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal.2.20).
Valued Jesus More Than Anything
Do you know how costly 300 denarii is? A year’s wages! Has any of us even seen perfume as expensive? Was she a rich person? Did she save up for this? We don’t know! Whatever the cost, it belonged to this woman. It was hers! She had a right to do with it as she wished. She poured it over His head, probably all of it. Just imagine the cost, a year’s salary, without any returns! Well, that was just the point--she was returning what Jesus had spent on her! Her love for the Lord was such that she had to do something unique, something original, creative, and demonstrative! He was so worthy that the ordinary, everyday appreciations did not do justice. It was something novel for the culture, but altogether appropriate!
Today many people talk about social services rather than spiritual services because many Christians convert themselves from the glory of God to the glory of men. Many Pastors, evangelists and missionaries turn to social services because the Lord Jesus’ ministry requires carrying the cross.
Jesus told the rich young man to obey the commandments (Mk.10:17-22). However, Jesus seemed to speak to the young man in the terms he understood from the scribes and the Pharisees. The pattern Jesus used was unassailable--‘Do not’ violate a commandment. The instruction ‘do not’ is repeated five times. The young man replied, he had obeyed since being a child. He felt genuine love for this man as He looked at him (Mk.10:21).
This story concluded with Jesus’ final attempt at the young man’s transformation. Jesus told him to sell all his possessions, give to the poor, and "follow Me." Jesus was asking him to give up his earthly treasure for heavenly treasures. Unable to accept this command, he turned and left Jesus (Mk.10:22). Although the passage ends with v.22, Mark writes of Jesus continuing to instruct the disciples on the value of knowing God rather than trusting riches. The young man was unable to surrender riches, position, and title on earth for heavenly treasure.
As John the Baptist was completing his work, he said, "Who do you think I am? I am not that One. No, but He is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie" (Acts.13:25).
Jesus Praised Her
The Lord Jesus always testifies for those who become a testimony for Him. Many people sharply criticised her, but she stood with all confidence amidst all criticism, and that was why Jesus testified about the work she had done for Him. In this world people seek human praise, favours, respect and honours; but the true Christian is the one who gets the praise from the Lord Jesus Christ.
I remember the story in Mark 2:1-5 where four men brought a paralysed person to the Lord Jesus Christ. After seeing their faith, Jesus forgave the sin of the paralysed man. Honour and praise come from the Living God. Nobody there praised these people, but God knew their efforts and dedication towards Him and He glorified these men and healed that person.
To Be Preached Everywhere
It is a great prophecy by the Saviour for this woman. The Lord always honours those who honour Him with all of their heart, mind and soul. This greatest honour she got from God, the twelve disciples did not get. This honour was not a worldly reward, but the reward that her work would be preached wherever the Gospel is preached.
Her extravagance matched Christ’s extravagance! She has done what she could. Do you and I realise what we ‘could’ do?