Break Open the Jar

by Mike Ratliff

1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” John 12:1-8 (NASB) 

I am convinced that most professing Christians are absolutely clueless when it comes to genuine worship of the Lord in spirit and in truth. The idea that going to a building once or twice a week to sing a few songs and listen to Bible lesson and a sermon constitutes genuine worship would be foreign to Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church. Genuine worship is more than singing God glorifying songs or simply praying a prayer that someone else wrote. If it isn’t these things, then what is it?

From John 12:1-8 we learn of an event that took place in the last few days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. It was a dinner party that took place at Simon the Leper’s house. Jesus was there as were Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary performed an act at this party that shows us what real worship is.

As the guests reclined around the table in Roman style, Mary took a jar of scented oil called nard, broke open the seal, poured it into a bowl, dipped Jesus’ feet in the bowl, rubbed the oil or ointment into his feet, then wiped the excess off with her hair. This ointment or perfumed oil was costly. It was worth a man’s wages for one year. It was used in the embalming process. Families bought this scented oil then treasured it as an extremely valuable family possession. For Mary to break open the jar then pour it out like this was an extreme act of worship. It was costly, it was pure adoration, it was worship in spirit and truth not an act to get anyone’s attention other than God’s. God, Jesus Christ, accepted this act of worship and edified Mary for it.

Judas Iscariot was a thief and a liar. He was a phony disciple. What was his reaction? He scoffed at the act of worship and proclaimed that it was an extreme waste. When Christians become spiteful and complaining at the way others worship the Lord, they are exhibiting the spirit of Judas. The Lord, however, intervened and would not let Judas rob her of her jar of ointment. He told everyone that Mary had performed an extreme act of worship, knowing in her heart that Jesus was about to die. He told them that the remainder in the jar would be used at His burial. How did Mary know that Jesus was going to die? Yes, Jesus talked about it, but His disciples did not “get it” until later. How did she come to this understanding? She was a true worshipper of our Lord. She spent time at His feet in utter worship and adoration. She loved the Lord her God with her entire being. When Christians do this, they have put themselves into position to have heart to heart reciprocal love with God Himself. Does God push us away when we humble ourselves like this? No! When we take our focus off ourselves while placing it on God, loving Him, obeying Him, living for His glory alone, we will be changed. We learn to think like Him. We see things from His perspective instead of the world’s. We find ourselves in the midst of mind renewal because we are living sacrifices.

To live this way requires us to break the jar. That means we become broken bread and poured out wine for God’s glory. We humble ourselves before the Lord and live in a way with those all around us the way the Lord would. We become merciful to others. We exhibit graciousness. We become the embodiment of AGAPE love to everyone. Our patience is beyond the comprehension of everyone, even ourselves. This is impossible for us to do by trying to do any of this. Instead, we become the extensions of Jesus’ hands, feet, will, and life. When we spend time with Him, we will take on His character. When we spend no or little time with Him, we take on the character of the world.

We know how Judas Iscariot ended up. Let’s agree to be like Mary, broken and poured out in our continual worship of our Lord, living for His glory while doing His will in the strength of His joy by His grace.

Soli Deo Gloria!