~ Erin Blair
Throughout this life we
are surrounded by so many things, so many distractions. Sometimes I feel like I am in a whirlwind
trying to get everything done and in its place.
Working in a law firm, I am constantly trying to meet deadlines for
filing legal documents, scheduling clients, getting cases ready for court, and
so much more. I’ll admit it is hard for
me to just forget all about those things I have to do at work and focus on my
first love, God. God should be first in
our lives, everything else comes second.
This means that God needs to come before work, our children, our
spouses, keeping the house “spotless,” having laundry all caught up, and having
a warm, delicious meal on the table every night. It is all about priorities, giving up
everything else to put our first love back in His place, first.
In Mark 14:3-9 we read
that Jesus went to the house of Simon the leper in Bethany to have a meal. As they were eating, a woman came with an
alabaster box of ointment of very precious spikenard and poured it on Jesus’
head. Of course as we read along we see
that some of them that were there (probably some of the disciples) were upset
saying that it was a waste to anoint His head with the spikenard because it
could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Let me run off on rabbit chase for just a
moment: it was not necessarily wrong
that they wanted to sell the ointment and give the money to the poor. They thought that they had good
intentions. After all, Jesus commanded
to “sell all you have and give it to the poor” (Mark 10:21). So why did Jesus rebuke them in verse 6? Because she did a good work by anointing His
body for burial (v. 8).
We have all read this
passage before and there are many things to learn from it. But I want to look at one thing in particular
about this passage that you may not have noticed or considered before. Why does the scripture go and say what she
brought was an “alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious”? I mean, the writer could have just said she
brought a box of ointment and anointed Him with it and we still would have
gotten the lesson of her preparing His body for burial. Why an “alabaster box of spikenard” rather
than just “a container of ointment”? In
order to answer this question, we need to go back in time and have a history
lesson about the customs, culture and location of the time this was written.
When Christ was at
Simon’s house, the culture and custom of the day was for young women to store
up a dowry for marriage. This dowry
consisted of anything ranging from clothing, home furnishings, gold, silver,
jewels/jewelry, money, perfume and many more varying items. One item that was very popular, especially
among the girls of a wealthy family, was to have an alabaster box of perfume,
or spikenard, laid aside to wear on her wedding day and the days after
that. It was a very expensive perfume
and incense coming all the way from India and the surrounding region. Part of the reason it was so expensive is the
material the flask was made out of, Alabaster.
Alabaster (Oriental alabaster or alabastrites) was a mineral that was mined in the Far
East and was considered very precious.
It was mined in quarries in the Orient and is also found near Egypt, and
because so much work was done in mining it and fashioning it into boxes, vases,
and various other things, it was very hard to come by and very expensive. It was a very precious item for a young woman
to have and she would place it in a very safe place to save until she would
wear that perfume for her husband on their wedding day. This woman probably sat many times in her
room, running her hands over the alabaster box, thinking of who it could be
that she would wear that perfume for as she was joined to her husband.
But what is the
significance of her anointing Jesus with this perfume? By breaking the Alabaster box before she was
married, she signified that Jesus Christ was more deserving of this expensive,
precious ointment than her future husband.
By breaking the box, she basically said, “I would rather spend all this
money, all this precious costly perfume on Christ than wait to wear it for my
husband.” She considered Christ to be
more important than her husband. She
could have easily said, “No, I’ll wait to break the box for my husband. Christ can have this other, cheaper perfume
that I don’t really care for anyway. He
can have the second-best.” But she
decided to put Christ first before anything else. She sacrificed her money and her dreams of
wearing some of the best perfume of that day for her husband all to show that
Christ had the first place in her heart.
We need to be like this
woman and break our “Alabaster box for God.
Now our “Alabaster box” will all be different due to our different
situations in life. But they key is to
be willing to sacrifice much for God. We
need to be willing to give up our most precious item for God and not do so
grudgingly. If a woman who bought such a
costly ointment in the hopes of having it for her husband can give it all up
for Christ, then we can certainly give up time, money, or whatever we need to
for God. We need to put God back as our
first love in life and not get distracted by the things of the world that take
up our time and “demand” our “alabaster flask”.
I pray that we are all willing to “break our Alabaster box” at the feet
of Christ and put Him back as our first love.
the wife of Jordan Blair who preaches for the New Madrid church of Christ in
New Madrid, MO. Erin currently teaches the teen girls class and has helped with
preparing and working with church activities like Ladies Days, Prom
Alternatives, Youth Rallies and VBS. She is currently working as a paralegal
for a law firm.