During my Gathering Stones Lenten Devotional series, I described Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as they welcomed Jesus with extravagant love just before he was crucified. (Click here to see that post.)
Today, as I sat thinking and praying, looking out my window at the beautiful spring day, I thought once again of Mary and how she poured herself out at the feet of Jesus. And I thought how I want to be more like that, fully abandoned to Him, blessing Him, not just expecting a blessing from Him. I also acknowledged in my mind and heart that not everyone would applaud this total abandonment. They sure didn’t all applaud Mary.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
John 12: 1-12
The so-called disciple, Judas, belittled and criticized the display of love that Mary showed. We should realize that it had not been made known yet who Judas was truly serving. How discouraging that should have been to have another follower rebuke her publicly. Yet, the evidence appears that Mary was not fazed by the opinion of others. While Judas the thief, acting like the evil one he served, tried also to steal her joy, Mary walked in triumph, for the Lord Himself defended her. He is our mighty defender, too.
My thoughts continued on remembering this story and thinking of Mary’s abandonment to Jesus. She anointed his feet with a costly perfume that historians tell us was Nard. What is Nard?
Nard is made from a desert grass. In Biblical times, nard was very valuable. It was used for anointing in spiritual ceremonies. It was very costly. Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with nard in preparation for His death. On our spiritual journey, we may have times of gathering and making nard. Remember, nard can only be made from grass gathered in the desert. You have to be in the desert to gather it.
Our desert times can be lonely and dry and difficult. Our desert times can make us very thirsty for more than what our reality shows in the present. But what will we do with those times in the desert?
We can curse the time there. We can complain and grumble like the Israelites did in the desert.
Or we can gather the desert grass and let God turn it into something valuable and costly, like spiritual nard. Then we can lovingly offer that spiritual nard to our Lord, the only one to satisfy our longing and thirst.
Be warned: It costs us something. Sometimes, it costs us everything. David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, “I will not offer … to the Lord that which costs me nothing” (Amplified Bible). Following God should cost us and will cost us. What do we do with the pain of that cost? We gather desert grass along the way. We make it into spiritual nard. And we offer it back to the Lord for His glory.