A Christian businessman was traveling in Korea. In a field by the side of the road was a young man pulling a plow while an old man held the handles. The businessman was amused and took a snapshot of the scene. “I suppose these people are very poor,’” he said to the missionary who was interpreter and guide to the party.
“Yes,” was the quiet reply. “Those two men are Christians. When their church was being built, they were eager to give something toward it, but they had no money. So, they sold their only ox and gave the proceeds to the church. This spring they are pulling the plow themselves.” The businessman, silent for a few moments, said, “That must have been a real sacrifice.”
“They did not call it that,” answered the missionary. “They thought themselves fortunate that they had an ox to sell!”
I read that story and wonder how much I really give up in order to advance the gospel, in order to obey Romans 12:1, where I am told to be a “living sacrifice” to the Lord. How about you? Are you content just to tithe and call it good? But aren’t there other things we are asked to sacrifice? In Mark 14, we learn of a woman who sacrificed not only her most valuable possession but also her pride. Could we say the same?
Just a few days before Jesus’ death, we read about a dinner party where an uninvited woman showed up with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume (about $15,000 today), broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Guests were indignant and harshly rebuked her. “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” I love Jesus’ response.
“Leave her alone…Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
In Lady in Waiting, Becoming God’s Best While Waiting for Mr. Right, Jackie Kendall explains the purpose of the alabaster box in biblical times. When a young woman was old enough to marry, her family would buy this box and fill it with ointment. When a man proposed, the future bride would break this box at his feet in order to show him honor.
Don’t miss the importance in this story about Jesus.
Amidst the arrogant rudeness of the other dinner guests, she, a lowly woman, cared not that she was being mocked and ridiculed. Her entire focus was on her Savior. He who would be betrayed by Judas a short time later had to breathe a sigh of relief that someone understood what he had come to earth to do and wanted to honor him for it. His disciples certainly didn’t. The high priest didn’t. Those for whom he had performed miracles didn’t. Many of us still don’t.
But this woman did. In a few hours, Jesus would be on his knees, weeping that God would stop his crucifixion from happening. But at this moment, he had an acknowledgement that it was worth it. Someone wasn’t requiring anything from him but wanting to love on him right where he was.
Dear Readers, what is your most treasured possession, your “alabaster box”? This woman gave all she could. Could Jesus say the same about my life? Could he say it about yours?