I have a small alabaster box that I purchased in Morocco. It is carved out of a light colored rock with etchings on all four sides. Also, it has a lid with even more carvings. It is beautiful in its simplicity and I have no idea if it similar to the material that was used to make the alabaster jar in a story told in the Bible. But it sits on my desk to remind me of the beauty found in this story told by Luke. The story is also mentioned by two other authors but Luke gives a little more detail. Here is the story in short. (1)
Woman with the Alabaster Jar
Simon the Pharisee, also known as Simon the Leper, invited Jesus to visit his house. While the teacher reclined at the table, a woman, who was known as a sinner learned He was there. She showed up with an alabaster jar filled with an expensive fragrant oil. She began to weep at the feet of Jesus, washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. Then she poured the oil over His feet. The other two authors, Matthew and Mark, said that she poured it on His head. Chances are, she poured the oil on His head and feet. Either way, it is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness and gratitude.
In essence, Jesus forgave all of her sins, accepted her and loved her with His all. In turn, she expressed her gratefulness and worshipped Him with her all. Despite of the unfriendly onlookers, she poured her pricy possession over the Master without hesitating. I don’t know how much the oil cost but some suggest that it may have cost a year’s salary.
What wasn’t apparent at that moment is that she helped prepare Jesus for His burial. It would be a short time later that He would pour out His life to redeem the world from sin. He would be beaten, mocked and nailed to a cross. He would die, but the blood that He shed would wipe away all her sin and the sins from anyone else who seeks forgiveness. She helped prepare Him to give his all.
It is such a short word. Anyone can whiz past it in a sentence or speak it in a breath without realizing its impact. It encompasses… well… everything. In this story, “all” keeps reoccurring. Sometimes, I hold my alabaster box in my hands and reflect on the “all” the woman gave and the “all” Jesus gave to us.
What would it look like if we poured our all into the hands of God? What could God do with us as broken vessels? And what if He poured the Holy Spirit into us and strengthened us to do His will? What an amazing story our lives would tell!
1. The whole story is found in the Bible. Luke 7:36-50; Mark 14:3-9; Matthew 26:6-13.
Pamela Williams writes from Southern California.
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