The Heart that Loves the Lord
Translated by Allan Liang
The Scripture verses we will learn today are all quite familiar and this story is recorded also in the Gospel of John 12:1-8 and the Gospel of Matthew 26:6-13. It began by telling that the story occurred at Bethany, where Jesus saved a person by raising them from death, and the setting being when Jesus reclined at the house of a person with leprosy. The Gospel of John gives the name of the woman, Mary, (John 12:3) who poured a jar of very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head. What followed was the disciples’ inability to understand and Jesus’ defense for her. In order to understand what this action means, let us take a look at what the most expensive perfumes of the time were like. Some records say that the best perfumes of the time were exceedingly precious, and were often safely kept in jade jars as a family treasure, passed from mother to daughter. Perfumes were like the “financial securities” of today, and could be used as items of investment due to ease of being carried and traded. Consequently, when the woman poured a jar of perfume on the Lord Jesus’ head, it was actually quite an uncommon act. But she did this without uttering a single word because her attention was completely fixed on her Lord, and did not care if this act would be criticized or rebuked. The Lord Jesus gave her such an explanation, she poured perfume on the body of the Lord to prepare for the Lord’s burial (Mark 14:8, Matthew 26:12, John 12:7). The Lord was just about to be crucified and buried, but the Lord’s disciples did not care about this, even though the Lord clearly revealed this to them more than once (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:45), but the woman understood, and according to the Gospel of John she was the Mary who listened to Jesus teach by his feet, and received what was better (Luke 10:38-42). She used the expensive perfume to anoint her Lord - the King of Jerusalem, as the Song of Songs 1:12 says: “While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance.” To the woman, this was the most natural thing and hence, she did not care about the criticisms of others. However, the numb disciples who lacked spiritual sensitivity gave a number of rebukes; from their perspective, it would be better to exchange the perfume for money and give the money to the poor. Helping the poor seems to be reasonable, but the disciples completely neglected the work of salvation that would be accomplished by Jesus’ death and resurrection, instead the disciples saw only the value of money, comparisons of market value, which appeared to be out of love, love of the poor, but without knowing, they gradually lost their hearts of love of the Lord - a clear contrast with the woman’s actions. Today, we are often in such a circumstance, using our subjective feelings to determine whether something is right or wrong, good or lacking, and should or should not be done, and we forget that loving the Lord our God is what the first commandment teaches, and we must love with all our heart, all our soul and our mind, and not love in a divided way. In other words, if we are to do only one thing on this world, that would be loving the Lord with all our being, glorifying God and enjoying him forever (The Westminster Shorter Catechism, number 1). Let us think about this, how much of our troubles and sorrows are due to our concentration leaving God, using our own measuring sticks to measure out a narrow standard which we become unknowingly entangled in? May God let us be in the world but not of the world, have the same mind as Christ Jesus, focus on the works of the Lord, and have our hearts and minds connected to the eternity of heaven, for having been chosen by him, we belong to Christ, and must everyday on this earth live out his glorious testimony for the Lord. The woman was commended and remembered by the Lord, she will receive the glories of heaven with her Lord, and her beautiful deeds will be made known to the nations (Mark 14:6-9). May the Lord use today’s Scripture to enlighten our hearts, allowing us to see that even actions done out of love need to be tested in the presence of God, allowing us to understand what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2). May our hearts and our minds be renewed daily by the Lord. Please meditate and pray, do we often use our subjective understandings to judge others and criticize ministries? Is the love of the Lord foremost in our hearts? May the Lord lead us to love him more each day, and to enjoy him forever more.