Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mark 14: Broken and Spilled Out

Funny how I know better than other folks how they should honor Jesus. I'm probably not the only Christian on the planet who heard about the Americans killed by Somali pirates this week and uncharitably wondered if cruising the world in a big yacht and delivering Bibles was really the best use of their money.

Which goes to show how little I know, after reading Mark 14. A woman pours an entire jar of fabulously expensive perfume over the Master's head. The disciples are offended by the "waste," but Jesus sees something even more valuable than bread for the poor.

He sees a woman whose heart is so full of love, gratitude and humility that she gives her most precious possession to the one she loves. As Jesus says, "she did what she could." This woman is not "not far" from the Kingdom - she is There. She is among the first fruit of ransomed souls who, like Paul to come, will pour themselves out like water on the sacrifice and service of their faith. It is said of the great saints that their zealous love is often misunderstood. Wondrous love makes the rest of us wonder, sometimes. Last spring Diane and I were about to argue when suddenly she became gentle and conciliatory. Surprised, I asked her, "you didn't use to do that, what has changed?" Sitting in her wheelchair she answered, "I have so little to give you, but I can give you my patience." What wondrous love. It was humbling.

By contrast, the disciples are just humbug. In response to their pathetic reference to helping the poor, Jesus retorts: "You can help them anytime you want." Emphasis on the "you". Don't worry so much about the mote in your brother's eye, take out the log in your own, whydontcha.

Jesus prophesied, "Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” And so it has been, and will be until He returns. Who in the modern evangelical church hasn't heard Gloria Gaither's "Broken and Spilled Out"? Who hasn't heard a sermon or Sunday school lesson about this story, or merely read it in the Bible? Just one more prophecy that 20 centuries later is spot-on.

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