Meridian Star

February 1, 2014

From the Shepherd's Heart

By Dr. John A. Temple / guest columnist
Special to The Star

—     “As He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.”  — Mark 14:3

We live in a world of brokenness. Broken hearts, broken dreams, and broken treasures are but a few of the losses we experience in life. Often, we find ourselves beginning a new year with the realization that something is missing this year. Life is going to be different from now on.

    When something breaks, several feelings are common:

    1. We realize the value of what we lost. Many things of tremendous value are taken for granted while they are enjoyed. The spouse we see every day, the job we perform, the friendships we enjoy, the possessions we accumulate, all are appreciated more when they no longer exist.

    2. We rehearse how the past was better. Usually, the look to the “good ole days” plays conversations, experiences, celebrations, and memories that can only be enjoyed through yellowing photographs and vivid replay of events that seem to be forever complete.

    3. We grieve over the injustice of not being able to retain valuables forever. It seems unfair that our lives are now measured by emptiness instead of fullness.

    In Mark 14 there is a mention of a woman who intentionally lost something of value. This woman approached Jesus, broke an alabaster flask of costly oil, and anointed Jesus with it. This oil was considered a most valuable possession. Yet, she breaks the flask, never to be used again.

    We can wonder how she afforded such a valuable possession. She may have saved her money to purchase it. It may have been given to her from some close admirer. She may have saved it for some special occasion.

    We don’t know all the details. All we know is she broke the flask and let this valuable possession go. Why can she so freely lose something valuable and we so freely grieve? Let me give a few suggestions:

    1. She saw the purpose of the oil was to be used. The purpose of the oil was to moisten skin and enhance the senses with its aroma. Neither is accomplished while stored in the flask. Its ultimate celebration is when we let it go. Likewise, many celebrations are best realized at their completion when the purpose is realized.

    2. She saw the chance to show appreciation was too precious to miss. The focus of the woman was Jesus, not the alabaster flask of oil. Sometimes our focus can be misdirected. For the woman, the value of showing honor to Jesus was worth the price. He was about to give her something of far greater value. That was eternal life.

    3. She may see in the loss there is a gain. Jesus said that this woman’s sacrifice would be told as a memorial to her. There are times that the most precious memories that others have of us will be because of the price we paid. Maybe, we need to realize that everything worth celebrating has a price. Sometimes, the celebration that is coming is worth the brokenness we experience to get there.

    Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www.