With Fragrant Abandon

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Allow me to set the scene. Lazarus has been raised from the dead, his sisters are rejoicing in his company, and Jesus is celebrating with them in their house. Martha, ever the servant, is providing food for the table and all are gathered together.

But then, Mary does something that is against the normal conventions of society. It’s a tremendous act of devotion sequestered in one simple verse.

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. – John 12:3

Slow down and read that verse again, picture it in your mind. I don’t know if it was loud in the room, I assume there was the murmur of conversation as there often is when a group is gathered. The Bible doesn’t say at what point in the meal Mary approached Jesus, but it does tell us that the dinner was given in honor of Christ (John 12:2). Now imagine what must have happened. All the disciples and Lazarus were reclining at the table eating, drinking, listening to Christ when suddenly Mary approaches. In her hands is a bottle of fragrant perfume—an oil for embalming.

Do you think the room grew quiet as she approached our Lord? Do you think everyone noticed what she was doing?

And what about how unconventional she was? She broke protocol and societal norms to take down her hair in the company of men and wipe Christ’s feet. Her adoration was on full display before all who were gathered in the house. She worshipped her King in humble devotion with reckless abandon for any who watched.

It’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it? But do you want to know my favorite part? It’s that last sentence.

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. – John 12:3

Even if some had missed what Mary had done, there was a change in the room. A fragrant offering reached everyone in the house. Her actions took on a life of their own, filling the space of those gathered.

Her devotion became a fragrance that couldn’t be ignored.

It makes me wonder about my own life. Do I live in such a way that my life is poured out as a fragrant offering for the Lord? Am I so enveloped in worshipping Him that I don’t care what others think of me? Do others see that there is something different about me—that Christ is alive and living in me?

This story illustrates a powerful picture of a woman so devoted to Christ that she didn’t even regard the voices of others as important. Her focus was on Christ and Christ alone and it made others take note.

For a while now I have been praying through Romans 15:13—someone might even call it my life verse. It is certainly a goal and a prayer to be a person filled with the hope of Christ. For in this verse it talks about being a vessel of hope, of being a person so focused on Christ that the Holy Spirit overflows.

It’s messy, it’s fragrant, and it fills a room with light.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Will you devote yourself to Christ today? Here at the beginning of a new week, regardless of circumstances, will you lean forward like Mary and worship Him with all that you are? Will you trust the Lord and ask Him for peace and joy that surpasses understanding?

You see, this world is quite disordered right now, so how about we make a different kind of mess? Why don’t we worship with abandon and watch as the fragrance of hope and devotion overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit?

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of caring about who is watching. Instead, I want to draw near to the throne of grace—I want to press as close as I can to meet with the Lord. I want to dwell with Him in His Word, in prayer, and in worship, for only in communion with Him does a fragrant offering fill the space around me. I want to be like Moses and meet with the Lord face-to-face, which really means presence-to-presence. That, my friends, is holy adoration like Mary’s that cannot go unnoticed.

Pray with me:

Lord, You are mighty to be praised. I anoint You today with all that I am, my heart set upon You, my soul on fire for You. Thank You, Lord for this reminder of what it means to follow You. I am to worship You with abandon, without regard for what others think. May my life be an offering unto You, Lord. A heart set on You that overflows with hope to those around me. Use me Lord, today I lay all aside for You. Amen.