Sabbaths, Feasts, and More
Marking Jewish Themes with Devotion
“Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you!” (Song of Songs 1:3 NIV).
There came a day when Yeshua visited the home of Simon the leper, and Mary of Bethany joined the gathering. In the sweet moment of fellowship, she broke an alabaster flask and poured an expensive and treasured ointment on Him (Mark 14:3-9). Mary is described as a woman in the village who was a sinner – someone with a tainted reputation (Luke 7:37). Several who watched raised their eyebrows and judged. Others complained openly to Yeshua of the extravagant waste.
But the truth about Mary is that the world had broken and rejected her, and she turned to Yeshua for wholeness. She found unconditional acceptance and forgiveness and knew Him intimately. Mary deemed Yeshua worthy of such a sacrifice of honor.
I admire how Mary risked everything to show Him love despite the cost or criticism.
Yeshua memorialized her outpouring of love in Matt 26: 13. This gesture had such meaning. She gave the best part of what she had – and when she broke the top of the jar open to pour out the ointment, Yeshua became prepared or anointed for burial. She became anointed for burial too — as much of the ointment lingered on her as she wept and rubbed the perfume upon His skin with her hair.
Mary saw something that others had missed. She made a public statement by her actions that Yeshua was about to die. That moment proved that she had the courage to lay down her life for her Bridegroom too, just as He was about to do for her, the Jewish nation, and the whole world.
You see, love is not true love if both partners are not willing to die for each other. Mary responded with like intention. She matched His intensity. She burned with the flames of love just like He.
Have you ever poured your affection out to a friend with sincerity and eagerness only to have them respond with, “Ditto?” It’s so deflating. You are longing for like action. Like. Response. Ditto just doesn’t cut it. Mary had the courage to go way beyond, “Ditto!” to the affection Yeshua showed her by offering unconditional love and forgiveness.
She responded with like intensity.
Love demands this kind of response.
A peek into Mary’s world reveals and proves she gave a weighty gift. The Greek word, alabastron, is translated “alabaster box” in the KJV, as well as “flask,” “jar” or “vial” in some translations. Commonly found in Israel, alabaster is soft and porous similar to white marble and is mentioned as one of the treasured stones used in the embellishment of Solomon’s Temple (1 Chronicles 29:2). In Song of Songs, the handsome lover and pursuer is described as having legs like “alabaster columns” (ESV) or “pillars of marble” (NIV, KJV). In Yeshua’s day, ointments, oils, and perfumes were bottled in vessels made of alabaster, which kept them unspoiled. A thick covering of wax sealed the flasks preventing spillage.
Alabaster was a strong enough substance to keep the oil or perfume completely contained until the time of its use. Usually, the alabaster containers were tall slender vases. When opened the necks were snapped so the ointment could be tipped and poured out. As well, alabaster can be carved and reshaped easily. It is transparent allowing light to shine through it.
We are those alabaster jars, broken before Yeshua in this beautiful and heartwrenching life, letting His light shine through us. Song of Songs 1:3 tells us that Yeshua’s name is as “perfume poured out.” We carry the healing ointment of salvation with us which is the meaning of Yeshua’s name. When we are broken through trials and before Him in worship, His fragrance of salvation and beauty is released. And to the degree we are broken without becoming hardened, the more the perfume is expelled, affecting everyone present and not present.
Mary’s story still changes lives, thousands of years later. Each time it is read and received, it is like her alabaster jar is rebroken and the healing ointment escapes to change those hearing her story. We remember that both the Bride and Bridegroom are anointed for burial and willing to die for each other.
The same is true for the breaking of your alabaster jar as you yield and allow the suffering of brokenness to prepare you to follow Him anywhere and influence many as you obey.
For more study…
Luke 7:36-50, John 12:3, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, Psalm 45:14
Work it out in daily life…
Prayerfully reflect on the brokenness of your life. Ask the Lord to allow those painful seasons to bring you into an intense love for the Lord. Pour out your affection in worship. Ask the Lord to show how you can put that love into revealing His salvation to the world. Ask Him to help you not resist the deep work of brokenness but embrace it to allow the sweetness of the ointment of His name to come out of your life as a lasting memorial.
©Bonnie Saul Wilks