As one of my favorite book characters, Peniel, says, “I love a good story.” I will read literally almost anything. One of my favorite things to do (and many other people get more invested than I, apparently, according to the amount of fanfic and reddit posts out there) is to wonder what-if and how’d-it-happen. What is that character’s backstory? What were they thinking when that was happening? What made them the way they are? If the story continued, what would happen to them next? And while I will read almost anything, one of my absolutely favorite genres is historical fiction. Giving stories to people who really lived, or to people who could have lived.
If you will remember, not too long ago, I went to a local ladies’ conference called, “More”. One of the sections was a dramatic interpretation called “Alabaster Jar”, a song that was acted out by one lady as it was sung by another, and beautifully done. It was based on the story from Mark 14:3-9, which reads:
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask filled with costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves and said, "Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint my body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."
If you read the different gospel accounts, you will get a few more details, such as the woman was a known sinner, and that she wept and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. John’s telling names her as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
As I was watching and listening to the performance, my brain kicked into gear. What was going through her mind as she brought the perfumed oil to Jesus? She was a broken woman, one who was known to be a sinner. In Luke’s account, Simon, who was hosting the dinner, makes a big deal about it. He pretty much said if Jesus knew who this woman was, and was the Man of God He claimed to be, He wouldn’t have anything to do with her. This woman knew who she was. She recognized who Jesus was. She wanted to offer the best of what she had to Him, to honor Him. Her best happened to be a jar of very costly fragrant oil. I don’t think she had an agenda, other than to give Him honor the only way she could think of. She anointed Him with this costly oil. She wept, knowing who He was and that nothing she could offer would come close to being good enough. She poured out her love for Him in kisses, tears, and oil. And Jesus received her. He didn’t just receive her gift, but her. She gave Him all she had to offer, and He took not only her gift and her love, but also her sins. He offered Her forgiveness and peace.
What are our gifts to Him? Whether physical or spiritual, what do we have to offer to Jesus? Our gifts are our “more” to Him. He knows what we have to offer – He gave it to us. What are we doing with those gifts to bring Him honor? I don’t know what your gift is. As old as I am, I’m really only starting to learn what mine are. I hope you can find yours, and use your “more” to serve Him, and in turn be able to live “more abundantly”. Just as the woman with the oil, Jesus offers us forgiveness and peace in return for worshipping Him and giving Him praise and honor. He offers far “more” to us than we can ever give to Him. All we can do is break open our hearts at His feet, as Mary did her alabaster jar. We offer him our gifts, our love, and our tears, and allow Him to use us. We offer Him more, and He helps us be more. We give more, and He refills us with more of His Spirit. He gives us more than we even know to ask for, and we use it in His service to bring more people to know His love, grace, and mercy.
You are writing your own narrative. Will you break your alabaster jar? Will you offer more? Will you be ready to receive more? Peniel and I are ready to hear your story, and see Jesus do more through you.