“precious ointment”

Perhaps it missed our purview that the land of Israel is the only country that touches three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Israel was not only the land promised by God, but it also served as the bridge to international trade. It’s important to note such a thing when reading Mark chapter 14. The scripture speaks of a woman of ill repute entering a house and pouring ointment of spikenard on the head of Jesus. Spikenard was a costly aromatic anointing oil extracted from an East Indian plant. Obtaining an alabaster box full of the ointment was not an easy task, which explains its high value. Judas described its worth as a “years’ wages.”

Most colognes today are not made with oil extracts. Chemical compounds can give a pleasant scent, but they do not invoke the same attention as the more expensive oil compound and they fade rather quickly. The oil, however, is a sustaining smell not soon forgotten.

The spikenard was not only a rare and sought after fragrance, but it was strong enough to saturate the whole house. Dinner just wasn’t the same after Mary came to call. The house was filled with her passion, repentance, and broken spirit. The pharisees took up the cause and murmured about her and what they considered the inappropriate scene. The disciples were most shocked by the move. Judas’ thoughts went to waste and money. Simon, the host, had to consider his own failure of not washing the feet of Jesus.

One woman with a precious ointment changed the entire mood and conversation of the house. Her brokenness filled the whole room.

Psalm 51 gives us both direct imagery and instruction by comparison.
David wrote that the sacrifices of God are a broken heart: “a broken spirit, O God thou wilt not despise.” We not only know what the sacrifices are, but by deductive reasoning, we know what they are not. Unmoved hearts and unbroken spirits cannot approach the altar. Indifference won’t find room before the Lord. Religious platitudes have all become benign. It’s the broken spirit that changes the order of the service. One desperate person seeking God can change the room with a fragrance not soon removed.

I pray today that you will come before Him. Give the best you have and open your heart to His love. Not only will you be blessed, but the church itself will change as you anoint the Lord with your “precious ointment.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

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