Broken Wide Open
…she came to Jesus, broke the jar, and gently poured out the perfume onto His head.
Mark 14:3 (The Voice)
(from a Lenten Devotional written for Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, SC)
On Wednesday of Holy Week, we find Jesus in the village of Bethany at the home of Simon, the leper. The gospel writers relay a story of a woman and her extravagant response to Jesus as she pours expensive fragrant oil on Jesus’ head. Each of the writers gives specific details from their own perspectives in which we can piece together a picture, but John notes that her name is Mary.
We believe this is the same Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, attentive to his teaching, while her sister, Martha busied herself with chores and ridiculed her for not helping. She knew the only place that made sense for her to be was with Jesus and listening to his voice. This is the same Mary who ran to Jesus after her brother, Lazarus died, knowing he was the only one who could truly comfort her.
With her sister likely within view and her resurrected brother lounging at the table with Jesus, Mary responds in a remarkable way, yet still perfectly in alignment with her character. Mary, and her all-in commitment to Jesus, seems to know just where to put her focus in moments when it matters.
She’s brought fragrant oil, equivalent to a year’s wage, to a party. You don’t accidentally bring something that costly to a party unless you intend to do something with it. Just like everything she did, it was intentional. Mary’s actions mirrored her heart.
Taking the oil, she “came to Jesus, broke the jar, and gently poured out the perfume onto his head” (Mark 14:3b). What is beautifully striking to me about this passage is Mark’s observation that she actually broke the jar. She didn’t just pour it out. She broke the jar. There was no going back in her devotion, there was no undoing this extravagant display.
There was also no way her intentions could be mistaken. It wasn’t as if she tripped and spilled the oil on Jesus—it was a deliberate act that I’m sure she had been considering for some time. She didn’t just bring the oil to Jesus or the disciples as an offering to help the ministry based on its value, she came on a mission.
In front of a room full of people, she focused on the attention of one. She purposely unsealed a jar of perfume, broke it, and poured out the entire contents on the head of a man that she loved. She knew the value of Jesus himself was greater than any oil. She was risking ridicule and once again fully committing herself, her resources, and her reputation, all to Jesus.
There was no going back. Her life and her jar were broken wide open for Jesus.
The fragrance of that much perfume would have immediately filled the room and the scent might even have lingered on Jesus as he went to the cross only two days later. She was not only honoring him with this extravagant display, but preparing him for his coming death and burial, as Jesus noted, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.” (Mark 14:8). As she broke the jar open and it spilled out, she no doubt was also covered in the scent herself. There would have been no denying that she had been with Jesus.
I want Mary’s example to be true of my own life and my relationship with Jesus. I want there to be no confusion as to my commitment to him. I want to be found at his feet, running to him, and pouring everything I have out to him in an act of submission and obedience.
I want to be so connected to Jesus that the fragrance of Christ that I carry on my life is undeniable.
I want to be broken wide open for him.
Let today be the day you make the choice to go all-in.
Are you ready to risk ridicule, resources, and reputation in complete devotion to a life with Jesus?
What’s one thing you can do to purposefully and publicly express your love and devotion to Jesus today?
Lord, help us to be willing to go all-in our devotion to you. Like Mary, may we be found holding nothing back. Give us the courage to express our love for you publicly and live in a way that shows we are undeniably connected to you. Amen.
Matthew 26: 6-13; Mark 14: 3-9; John 12: 1-3
To read more from Tara L. Banks, get your copy of Waiting on Wonders, 40 Days of Wonder HERE.