An Alabaster Jar Praise (Matthew 26:6-13)

by Xylia Sparks-Davis on 10/04/12

I have a good friend whose favorite flower is the gardenia.  The flower is a perfect match for her personality.  She is a person of pure intention; not really into being the center of attention; but you always know when she has been in the midst of a situation.  Her presence is always felt.  She is the one with a kind word at just the right time or a warm smile for a lonely child. Her kindness and meekness – strength yielded to God’s control – fills the room long after she has left.  Her fragrance lingers.

Do you have an essence that takes over a room?  The woman with the alabaster jar did.  She is unnamed in Matthew 26 but in John 12:3 is revealed as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  Her fragrance was that of uncontained praise.  Her offering of choice was spikenard oil, a cousin of the herb valerian.

To get the essential oil, spikenard plant must be crushed to release the oil.  Mary had been crushed.  The illness and subsequent death of her brother Lazarus had turned her world upside down.  Mary and Martha were not recorded as being married so their economic stability would have depended upon their brother.  Her family unit had been compromised.  Lazarus was the emotional balance between Mary and Martha’s temperaments – the difference between peace and confusion.

Mary had wept bitterly at the loss of her brother…until Jesus.  Jesus hit the reset button and restored everything.  Lazarus was alive and Mary was overjoyed.  There were no words that could fully express her rapture; but she had to do something! She had to show Jesus how she truly felt.  He was more than just her friend; He was her Lord!

Finally, she found means and opportunity.  When she released the contents of that alabaster jar at that dinner party her intent was clear – to show her admiration, love and honor for Jesus.  When the jar was closed, no one else would know how she felt. Once it was released, not only would the whole room know but also every generation that came after her would feel the depth of her praise.

I find it interesting that she chose spikenard for her offering.  Spikenard was used in the healing of emotional conditions. It was incredibly expensive and according to John, she had a pound of it – a year’s wages worth.  What she had just lived through a situation that was incredibly expensive to her emotional well-being.  The spikenard oil was bought not merely with money but with tests and trials. She had been crushed but the oil that flowed from her was not bitterness or pain – but praise to the One who restored her.  Mary’s praise was in proportion to her trial. 

Mary’s spikenard was also the spice used by the Bride in Song of Solomon.   Frankincense and Myrrh were spices used to adorn the groom; the same two spices that were presented as gifts to Jesus at His birth.  He is more than prophet, priest and king. He is the bridegroom awaiting a celebrating bride – the church.  I wonder if Mary realized that she stood in for the Bride of Christ when she poured out her adoration upon Jesus?

Some will say that your praise is a waste; that your time should be spent on other more “worthwhile” endeavors.   Not so, your praise is a sweet aroma in the throne room of God.  Jesus waits to smell your essence. You are His beloved Bride.  Your praise is more costly than any Chanel perfume.  He waits for your precious oil to be poured out.

Your test has past and your praise is the testimony.  Let your aroma linger long after you are gone.

Comments (1)

1.Doris A. St. Juste said on 10/12/12 - I say wow?!? Beautifully written, “Xy”…my sister. Truly blessed I am to be thought of in that manner. You know that I don’t see myself that way, but it reminds me of something you said to me some time ago. You shared with me that it’s a covering. A covering that those around me see, but I didn’t…still don’t. One placed there by the Lord above. God uses us, in the filth that we’re in to point others to Him. Thank you, “Xy”, for those kind words. Love you, my sistah. Shabbat Shalom. ;^D