Blog 19 – John 11:55-12:11
True worship – do not give to the Lord what costs you nothing.
SNL Sunday 17 February 2013 7.00pm

Readers should also read 1 Samuel 24:18-25. This blog as usual is written not by John the Evangelist but by Derek McKelvey.

I was totally blown away by this when it happened, but when I looked back on it a few days later after it had all happened I could not think of this without crying – how did she know? What depth of discernment and compassion had motivated her?

We were resting up in Bethany and enjoying one of those super meals that that house was renowned for – there was a sense of unease since we had come back into reach of the authorities but they did not yet know we were there. So we were relaxed, if underneath we were afraid.

And then Mary got up and took the box of ointment – worth a fortune[1] – these were kept for a burial and were scrimped and saved for so you did not lose face if someone died by not having it. They must have used another so recently for Lazarus, who was sitting at the table, laughing and joking as he always did – that too still blew my brains. But now – perhaps it was the one set by for her death – Mary took the box of ointment and broke it and pored it over Jesus’ feet. She could have taken a little out of the top and put the rest away and it still would have been extravagant – but she poured it all and broke the box. He and no-one else would have it all. And she wiped his feet with her hair that she had let down.

I did not understand but instinctively I knew that something beautiful was happening – the fragrance filled the place and everyone watched deeply moved.

That is, except Judas! Looking back it is easy to say we should have known then but that would be too easy. We didn’t and we were simply annoyed that he broke the atmosphere, brought us from something amazing and mysterious back to a squabble about money. Heaven knows we had little of that and what we had we often gave away – but this we never had – this was giving that was only due to God the great giver. As I lay on bed that night, I could not help but think of David and the threshing floor he wanted to build an altar – when offered as a gift he would not take it – he said ‘I will not offer to God that which has cost me nothing’ – and he was right.

I will not give him what I can easily do without, or what I have left when I am satisfied – for he did not. Not then, not now. And when it comes to worship, not me!

[1] About ten months’ pay at the going rate.