We honor our friends when they achieve notable milestones.
We give tribute to the great ones we have known when they pass from this world to the regions beyond.  Praise is really our tribute to the Lord, our detailed exposition of His glory and our gratitude for His impact on our lives.

Early in the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry an outstanding tribute was given to Him by Mary of Bethany.  She possessed a container of a valuable ointment called Nard.  The container itself reflected the value its contents; it was a superb jar of alabaster, a white semi-translucent mineral used for fine vases and decorative items.    It was her most prized possession.

Jesus often stayed in their home in Bethany to rest from the rigors of public ministry and private mentorship.  The Bible says that Mary and her sister, Martha, made Jesus welcomed in their home.  Her brother was the famous one who had been raised from death at Jesus’ command.  Mary’s accustomed place was at the feet of Jesus, listening to His every word.

On this night, her sensitive heart was deeply troubled.
She seems to have been the only one who heard Jesus’ frequent predictions of His coming sacrifice.  Overcome with love and grief she broke her alabaster jar and lavished its contents on Jesus.  With this act of worship she earned the rebuke of the disciples and the commendation of the Lord.

A Lesson in Worship
The details of just where and exactly when she paid tribute to her Savior are not clear in the Bible.  The important things are crystal clear and from these details we learn much about worshiping the Lord Jesus.

  • True worship is costly. Tribute literally means a payment of money as a sign of submission or allegiance.
  • True worship is willingly given.  No one forced Mary to make this tribute; her love compelled her.
  • True worship demands our best gifts.  God is worthy of nothing less.
  • True worship blesses the Lord.  Of all His followers, Mary touched the Lord’s heart in a special, meaningful way.  Our worship matters to the Lord Jesus.

Hear the words of commendation Jesus gave her when the disciples rebuked her:

  • “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
  • “She did what she could.”
  • “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”
  • “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Our worship is our tribute to the Lord Jesus. 
We can do something beautiful to Him as we give Him the best of our talents, skills, words, time, and energies.  We can praise Him at the limits of our abilities.  We can be in tune with the moment-by-moment leadership of the Spirit, sensing as Mary did, the significance of every day.

When we gather with the church to minister to Jesus, each of us breaks our own alabaster jar and lavishes it on Jesus in tribute to Him.  As we do this, the Gospel is empowered by the Holy Spirit to reach our part of the world.  Souls will be born into His Kingdom and that is the greatest tribute of all.

Luke 10:38-42 NKJV
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
John 12:1-6
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
Matthew 26:8-13
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Lord Jesus, I don’t have to wait for Sunday services to break my alabaster jar! I do it now! I focus my heart on You. I open it and pour its contents on You in the most profound love I can express. If there are hard places in my heart, I invite You, Holy Spirit to break them. I want nothing between us, Lord except love. I break my heart open, even the dark, hidden places that only You and I know about. I want that darkness to flow out of me—a catharsis of worship, of pain, of bitterness, of confusion—whatever abides there that is not Your plan for me. I will wait in Your presence for the ministry of the Spirit to do this breaking, emptying, and filling work in me. Lord, this is the greatest tribute I can bring today. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Change My Heart, O God
Words and Music: Eddie Espinova

Change my heart, O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God.
May I be like You.

You are the Potter.
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me.
This is what I pray.

Change my heart, O God.
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God.
May I be like You.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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