Friday, February 19, 2016

A Friend

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor. But Jesus, aware of this, said to them,But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.
I have heard the story above so many times but there is one aspect that I never focused on.  I always heard about the expensive perfume she used on Jesus and how it was as valuable as a whole year’s salary.  It was also always highlighted how the disciples thought she was wasteful and could have given to many poor people with the expense of the ointment.  The one point of the story that I never really got before was that Mary acted in confidence and love in what she did for Jesus, in spite of being judged by the disciples, because she really knew Jesus on a personal level. 
Mary knew Jesus in a personal, face to face way.  He came to her house, He ate at her table, He visited with her and her family in their living room, and He stayed at their house when He was passing through and needed a place to rest.  She had sat at His feet on more than one occasion and she knew He was the Messiah.  She knew He was the chosen one and that His words were true, and if He said that the time was coming that He would be put to death, it was true! 
Mary knew Jesus in a way we have not had the opportunity to know Him, but have we not?  We may not see Jesus’ face or hear His voice, but is He not with us every single second of every single day?  He “does” life with us, right by our side.  No one knows us better or understands us more.  We often discredit ourselves and do not accept the fact that we are loved and accepted by Jesus as we are by our dearest and closest friends.  We need to understand that we are loved and cherished by Jesus just as Mary was.  We need to have the confidence to step out and serve Him in any way we can and not be worried about it being “good enough” or worrying about what others think of us.  We need to live and serve Jesus like Mary did, confident that we are loved and accepted by Him.
Mary gave a sacrifice of expensive ointment as we know but the greater sacrifice may have been the ridicule she accepted on behalf of her friend and Messiah.  She knew His time on earth was not long and she wanted to anoint Him while He was still living rather than wait for His death.  Being willing to take a stand for Christ is not much harder than standing up for a friend.  When we know someone well and love them it is easy to defend them to others.  We would not think of betraying them regardless of the cost.  Jesus was very frank that those who followed Him could expect to be persecuted and ridiculed.  It may be somewhat easy to change our mind on a principle when under attack or to switch sides over an opinion, but few would turn their back on a real friend.
The Bible calls Jesus a “friend of sinners” and that He truly is.  All He asks of us is to share His love with others and by doing so honor His death.  Mary’s gift was special in many ways but it was basically her personal honor of Christ.  That is something we can all share.

Scripture to Claim:
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

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