It was only six days before the Passover as Martha and Mary prepared their celebration feast. Not a week earlier they had laid their precious brother Lazarus in the tomb. They could never have dreamed their bitter grief would transform to ecstatic joy when the all too late arrival of their beloved Jesus would raise him from the grave. Still awe struck, their spirits were high and excitement filled the air as they prepared this most special meal for now two guests of honor. Tears of gratitude and joy must have poured down their faces. It was hard for people to stay away. Everyone wanted to see for themselves the newly resurrected Lazarus, yet this night was meant just for their beloved Messiah, his disciples and their dearest brother.
I imagine Martha pulled out all the stops. Her best china, their finest linen and the most sumptuous foods. The mood could not have been more charged. What a contrast to last week. Having seen first hand some of the miracles Jesus performed and knowing how deeply he cared for their brother they sent word to Jesus as soon as he took a critical turn. To their utter devastation He did not rush to come and Lazarus passed. His body lay decomposing in the tomb as Martha and Mary separately parroted the same greeting upon seeing the Lord; “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
But come Jesus did, not on their schedule but rather according to the divinely appointed one where the Glory of God would be revealed and now, it was time to celebrate! Joy and laughter filled the table as did more than a dozen ferocious male appetites. I wonder which delighted the disciples more; the perfectly prepared meal or the sight of Lazarus laughing.
These fisherman, zealots and tax collectors could be a raucous bunch and it seemed now, there was no stopping them. With hopes high for the liberation of the Jews from Roman oppression they savored the taste of power. Amidst all the miracles Jesus had performed the jaw dropping exit of Lazarus staggering out of the tomb had certainly put to rest any doubts even Thomas may have had. The news was swiftly spreading for many miles and the conquering expectation they tried to quell had raised to a feverish pitch. It was against this backdrop of ecstatic joy Mary’s behavior could not have seemed more out of place. I can imagine the look on Peters face as Mary’s deepened sorrow consumed her. It must have sapped the joy right out that gregarious fisherman.
Of course Mary’s adoration for Jesus was understood, especially in light of her brothers miraculous return, but her tears of grief must have seemed morosely out of place. How could she be weeping at a time like this? This was a time of rejoicing. To make matters worse, there were much better choices for the dispensing of such costly ointment. To “waste” it on the Lord was not only foolish but irresponsible. I wonder if they secretly hoped her brother Lazarus would pull her aside and straighten her out since her husband had long since passed. Clearly this woman was out of line.
Yet how many times had the Lord spoken of his upcoming sorrow? That where he was going, they could not follow. How the son of man had been born to die and the suffering servant was about to enter into his passion. Weren’t they listening?
Mary wept as she broke open the priceless alabaster box of her heart. Pouring it on his head and feet, the love-bond she shared with the Lord did not bring her joy on this night. On this night she wept tears of prophetic intercession and bore unspeakable pain as she knew in her spirit the hour had come. The unimaginable suffering of Gods holy servant that would so cruelly swallow the Lamb of God into the darkness of death her brother had just been raised from.
As harsh judgment from his disciples filled the room Jesus broke its spell by interpreting her prophetic outpouring. ” Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to 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.” (Mathew 26: 10-13)
The intimate vow Mary shared with the Lord was not only the greatest joy of her life, but now at the hour of his death her greatest sorrow. But this cost of love brought her a dimension of spiritual insight few of his children have known. The inner most courts of the King, where Mary lived gave her access to a depth of spiritual wisdom, and understanding unknown to most. To embrace the deep secrets of God and the place of prophetic revelation. She shared his heart, the burden the Lord carried and I imagine as the angel of God strengthened Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Mary’s love strengthened him that day. Lifted Him, honored Him and most of all touched him.
One infamous day in battle, a servant of the Lord named Joshua made the Sun stand still. Yet this day, Mary, in an even more glorious way, Mary made the Son stand still. I believe she apprehended the attention and affection of the Savior and moved Him in the deepest place of His heart. May we all enter into that sacred place, the Holy of Holies and pour the alabaster box of our heart upon the altar of love for our precious Lord. For surely, that is a beautiful thing.