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Sometimes a sermon I’ve studied for ambushes me.

It happened last night.

The passage was John 12:1-8. The story was the remarkable event that occurred in Bethany at a dinner party, given in Jesus’ honor.

Mary did three shocking things:

1. She poured out an entire pound of a very costly perfume on Jesus. A drop or two would be expected. After all, in that time and place, with the absence of showers, deodorant, and after-shave, special occasions were marked by the use of perfume. However, no one had ever seen an entire year’s worth of perfume poured out on one person, at one time. It could have lasted several lifetimes, but was poured out on Jesus. If this was her dowry or life-savings, it was an unbelievably precious gift.

2. She anointed his feet. In that time and place, the most demeaning job was cleaning feet. Jewish slaves were exempt from that. Only Gentile dogs would lower themselves to such a degrading task. So, this young woman put no conditions on her love for Jesus.

3. She let her hair down in public, to wash his feet. Her hair was her glory. The first man to see a woman’s hair was her husband, on her wedding night. A married woman who let her hair down could be divorced – a single woman stoned. And Mary violates every boundary, every rule. Apparently, Jesus was her glory.

When she was scolded for her behavior, Jesus said, “she has done a beautiful thing for me. Tell this story wherever the gospel is preached.”

I found myself asking, “Have I ever given a gift to Jesus that was the most precious object to me – a gift that would invite criticism – a gift that indicated no cost is too great, no condition too heavy?”

My giving today was different – really, really different – in my anticipation, my attitude, the amount.

My joy today went through the roof when offering time came.


It was a great, great day.


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