Hey there! How is everyone? Hope all y’all had a great summer. The kids are all back in school by now, I guess. Some of the grownups are still out on cruises and the like. I know I had a visit planned that was trumped by a cruise. Imagine taking the Bahamas over Mama? Of course she did! I would too! I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t begrudge her the trip for one minute, but I miss that one! What do you do when you face disappointment or hard situations?
That’s not a typo or bad grammar in the title of this post. Mary, His mother, was also His handmaid and worshiped Him. Mary Magdalene anointed His feet with perfume, and wiped them with her hair. Mary of Bethany reportedly poured a jar of spikenard onto His head.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to lump them all together to tell a story. I first heard it expressed this way at a conference in Dallas Texas in 2000. The speaker was Bishop Joseph Garlington, from Philadelphia, PA.
Jesus is there, reclining at the table. Mary anoints Him with the perfume, head, or feet, doesn’t matter. It gets on more than just His hair or His feet – it gets onto His robe, it soaks into the skin, its strong scent clings to Him like a blanket. That scent becomes an olfactory reminder of Mary’s worship – an act of tenderness, of love, of reverence, of devotion, that would bring Him comfort through the next few days.
He knew what was coming. He knew for a certainty what He was about to face. Many of His closest disciples would be nowhere to be found, one would deny Him outright, one would betray Him to those who wished to kill Him. The townspeople would gather along the route for a grisly sport – taunting and jeering at those condemned to die the death of crucifixion. The soldiers were brutal out of their own horror for the procedure. Jesus knew He would be beaten, spat upon, kicked, cursed, and abused in a million ways. Yet He chose to walk the entire path. What would strengthen Him for this offering of Himself? In part, Mary’s worship.
As He celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples, He caught the scent – Mary’s worship. As He went out to Gethsemane to wrestle His humanity down to the ground in submission to His Father, there it was again – the bouquet of Mary’s worship. As the soldiers came, Peter cut off someone’s ear, most fled and Judas betrayed with a kiss, He had a little reminder of why He was doing this – Mary’s worship. As He was paraded back and forth between Herod and Pilate, up and down the steep streets of Jerusalem, He smelled something that helped give Him the courage and fortitude to go on – Mary’s worship. As they stripped Him of His robe and tied Him to a pillar for a scourging that had no legal limit and would have killed nearly any other man, the breeze and His own sweat brought it back to Him like a sweet balm – Mary’s worship.
As they put a scarlet robe on Him, and a crown of thorns on His head, beating it down with sticks, and placing a flimsy reed in His hand to act as a scepter, then mockingly bowing their knees and paying ‘homage’ to Him, He could still see her in true reverence at His feet, still feel the tears of love and smell the perfume – Mary’s worship. As they put His own robe back on Him, tearing the newly formed clots and causing His blood to be shed again in premonition of what was coming, He could still smell it – Mary’s worship. As He was prodded and pushed and half dragged down the streets of Jerusalem by abusive soldiers, carrying the heavy crossbeam that would shortly cause His death and was surrounded by jeering crowds, He could still take comfort in the fragrant memory – Mary’s worship.
Mary’s worship. It comforted Him, blessed Him, gave Him courage and strength, reminded Him of why He was paying this price – that some would love Him, some would worship Him, some would live for Him. Even though He was surrounded by jeering crowds and abusive soldiers, He could see and smell it – Mary’s worship.
Mary’s worship. I want to bring Him comfort, solace and joy like that. What about you? What is your special act of worship to give Him? Do you Him and love Him? Or do you need to talk to someone because you don’t really know what I’m talking about? Find a pastor or a priest. They can help you be a fragrance of love to Him with your own life. Like Mary’s worship.