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The Alabaster Box

Do you recall the story of the alabaster box, found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 7, where the women poured expensive oil on Jesus shortly before His death? How often in the bible do we read where someone did something for Jesus? Not much, and I think most miss the true message in this story. In essence, the alabaster box of oil represents our response to Jesus and His gospel.

Yes, the acquisition of the oil required sacrifice, but, more importantly, it was the pouring out of her heart in supplication unto Jesus that is the point. This pure holy response can only be as we, too, come to fully receive Jesus and love Him more than self. Our spirit is only able to commune with the Lord’s spirit to the extent of our response to Him and His gospel.

This was an act of pure love. She anointed Jesus with no gain unto herself, but as comfort to Him. The act of anointing with oil asked a blessing or setting apart for a special purpose. Recall how Moses anointed priests (Exodus 40:15), Samuel anointed the early Kings of Israel (1 Samuel 9, 16), and the Apostles anointed unto healing (Mark 6:13, James 5:14). But there was more to her anointing of Jesus. In this simple act of faith, the woman poured out her heart unto Jesus. Why faith? Because she received what He said about His coming death, and she desired to do what she could to help Him prepare for the great suffering that would come. She wanted Jesus to know that she accepted it, acting in support, not rejecting what he said, as did Peter, and most likely others of His male disciples.

Judas even belittled the women, by saying she wasted the money. He said the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor. They doubted what Jesus said about His death, showing no faith, as the women showed in her act of anointing Him. The women’s focus was Jesus and Jesus alone. Is this not the first commandment, ‘To love the Lord God with all our heart, might, mind and strength?’ She believed what Jesus said. Some of the men, on the other hand, until Jesus rose from death and they touched Him, did not believe. It is easy to believe when there is no price to pay, but much harder when a high cost is required. Losing Jesus was a high price, one they could not even contemplate. Yet she did.

So what was Jesus’ response to her gift? It is found in Matthew 26:10, “And in this thing that she hath done, she shall be blessed; for verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, this thing that this woman hath done, shall also be told for a memorial of her.” There is deep meaning in this passage. Only as we learn to fully laydown self and trust Jesus, can He be allowed full place. This requires great faith and submission. None of them wanted Jesus to die, but only this woman received it and acted in loving support. This is why Jesus said such a profound thing about her simple act. He wanted to draw attention to it, that we might understand and follow her example. We must submit our will to His will, in full purpose of heart, to conduct ourselves as she did when faced with our own trials. Often we will be asked to simply endure and trust that God knows best, even if it means death.

The men said what should be done, according to their own reasoning. This showed their arrogance in not allowing Jesus to lead. On another occasion, other men leaders mocked Jesus for letting a so-called unclean women touch Him, when washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her hair (Luke 7:36-39). All of these men, whether His disciples or not, put self-reasoning and men’s perspective first.

Contrast their response to the women’s responses. Jesus received the women’s actions and questioned the men’s actions. He desires submission, humility, a broken thankful heart, faith and trust. Let these women’s responses be examples to us. For Jesus to govern our life and for us to live in His Kingdom, we must learn to serve Him in pure love, and this requires that we give Him our full heart and walk in faith.

Lillie Nicole McCloud’s cover of CeCe Winan’s “Alabaster Box”