Broken alabaster jar
Perfume wisps and wraps
Blessing One who is to be
Broken and poured forth.
Abandoned water pitcher
Feet run to proclaim
Living Waters that drench
The parched and weary soul
Lifegiving Fount who would soon cry
The Promise Keeper
The Mystery of God revealed
Stands before me
Why indeed should I seek
The Living among the dead?
The Saviour calls my name
Rabboni, Master, King
My heart makes reply
My spirit hears the homeward wooing
And whispers back
‘Lord, I am Yours’
not my will
Yours be done’
A voiceless longing rises
Deep calling to deep
In emptiness and brokenness
My heart stretches out to you
My Creator, Healer, Restorer
Face down I call Your Name
Sweet Balm of Gilead
Humble at heart
You stoop to lift me up
Your gentleness makes me ‘great’
Sun of Righteousness
You wrap me in Your healing warmth
Your very Name is as ointment
Fragrant and soothing
Cascades of love
My parched heart rejoices
Spill forth joy
Bursting with rainbows of grace
My dancing soul in sweet rest
Bows down and cries
‘Father Your will
Not mine be done’
What is worship? Declaring the worth of God? Bowing our knees to honour Him? Rejoicing with singing, dancing and clapping?
What is worship? Mystic union – the moment when gazing into His face, touched afresh by the knowledge of His grace, all flesh is stilled, the soul acknowledges His goodness and His worth by saying – ‘Father, I am yours to command, send me’?
While each of us may have our own understanding of what worship is, one thing we cannot dispute that God our Creator and Saviour is worthy of worship.
The Israelites begged Moses to cover his face because they could not bear to gaze upon the glory of God, however pallidly it was reflected on Moses’ face. They feared a God they could not control, a God who could not be bought and bribed, a God who was real – who spoke, who commanded, who did things.
Imagine, each time they looked at Moses face, they were reminded of the holy reality of God. Fear, fear of punishment, fear of falling short, fear of God’s requirements cast a veil over their hearts. It filtered the words into their hearts. Fear filtered out the love of God. Separated from the character of God, divorced from the reality of His love, the law became drudgery, a heavy burden, an insurmountable obstacle to peace and rest.
How can one submit to that which one fears? How can one believe in the goodness of that which one fears? How can one listen when fear forms a wall? In Jeremiah’s time, fear had so hardened their hearts and blinded them, that the Israelites could not hear the love and concern that God was voicing through His true prophets. Fear made every message seem ugly and threatening. Fear made them deaf to the promises that were woven into every warning.
But in Christ the veil is removed. He came with the express purpose of exploding the myths and half-truths about God. He came to tear down the barriers of fear and lies that would keep us from running to God. He came to show us the Father heart of God, His tender affection towards us.
He did not come to set some impossible standards, but He came to show us the purity of the righteousness of God, the amazing ‘other’/holy quality of His love. Love full of wisdom, truth, patience, strength and full of justice.
He came to reveal the true glory of God – the character of God. Glory, not as we think of it in our petty human minds, where we associate glory with plaudits and shining lights. Jesus came to reveal the full dimensions of God’s love, righteousness, truth, justice, grace, mercy, power.
And He came to be the Way into the Father’s heart. No more hanging outside with bleating lambs, hoping the sacrifice is acceptable. He became the Lamb that was fully acceptable. No more downcast eyes and prostrate figures – John was lifted up and set on his feet, in the presence of the Holy God. True, the elders voluntarily fell down before the Throne, but they did that because they could find no words exalted enough or complete enough to express all that was in their hearts after they had experienced the beauty and glory of God.
The Door – stands open. Each day we can enter into His glorious Holy presence. Nay, more than that he has opened His heart to us to be our HOMES, to dwell in Him…
No more waiting for Moses, Samuel or Jeremiah to go between, to find out the will of the Lord. No! WE can enter and dwell in the Name of Jesus, to hear the voice of the Lord for ourselves. We can gaze upon His beauty, His holiness and be transformed by His love.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love casts out fear,
because fear has torment.
He who fears has not been perfected in love.
We love Him because He first loved us.
1Jn 4:18-19 MKJV
I had always thought that there were just two incidents where Jesus was anointed. But recently, as I have gone through the various accounts, it seems fairly certain to me that there are 3 separate incidents. ( I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong)
The 1st incident takes place in Simon the Pharisee’s home, probably in the city of Nain, not long after the widow’s son was raised from the dead. (Luke 7: 36- 50) A woman, labelled ‘A sinful woman’, weeps her heart out, in sorrow for her messed up, broken, sinful life. Her mourning is shot through with joy, for she knows that here is One who has the power to forgive her sins. She washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wipes His feet with her hair, kisses His feet, and anoints His feet with precious spikenard.
The 2nd incident takes place at Mary and Martha’s home in Bethany. 6 days before Passover, just a day before Jesus rode into Jerusalem. (John 12:1-11) Mary anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes His feet with her hair, at the feast given to celebrate Lazarus being raised from the dead.
The 3rd incident takes place at Simon the Leper’s home. (Matt 26:1-12, Mark 14:1-12) A nameless woman, whose story and motivation is not known, walks in on the feast and pours the precious spikenard on Jesus’ head.
As I read and re-read these narratives, I have been fascinated by the portraits of the three different women.
The 1st was a penitent sinner, the 2nd a joyful sister, the 3rd a nameless worshipper.
>> “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar.” Isa 33:17
Through their different circumstances and pain, each one of them had received a fresh and clear understanding of Jesus as the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the Son of God, the One whose kingdom is not of this world.
We all know of the three Wise Men, and their journey to behold the King and worship Him. In these gospel narratives I came across 3 simple women who came with their hearts overflowing with repentance, gratitude, awe and worship, carrying what was precious to them as an offering, for they knew that they were in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
>> “Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the LORD. Knowledge of the Holy One leads to understanding.” Pro 9:10 ERV
Each of these three women knew that their actions were likely to cause comment and outrage, and yet that did not deter them. Their eyes had seen the glory of their Maker, Redeemer and Master of the Universe revealed in the humanness of Jesus. At that moment of revelation, fear of man died, and they were set free to worship God with abandon.
>> David declared, “… I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” 2Sa 24:24 ESV
Each woman came with the costliest thing she had to offer. And it was all for Jesus and Jesus alone.
6 days before the Passover. The Great Sabbath. A day which begins a period of being set apart to prepare hearts to celebrate the Feast of Passover and the Day of Atonement. At Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, at the house of Martha and her siblings, a feast takes place.
Lazarus, out of the grave, now a tourist attraction, target of desperate, foolish plots to kill him, intent on telling his story…
Martha, happily serving, making sure all the guests were fed and taken care of…
Outside around the house there were throngs of people hoping to get a glimpse of Lazarus or Jesus…
Various groups of Pharisees and leaders watched uneasily, wondering where all this was going to end, trying to take back the reins of control, Jesus had to die; there was no other way to stem this tide…
Jesus’ disciples, confused and unsure by all His talk of dying, convinced He had a last minute trick up His sleeve, wondering what role each had to play in the coming Kingdom…
Judas, the observer, wondering how it would all profit him…
Mary, the worshipper had eyes only for the King. There, by the tomb, as Lazarus walked out wrapped in the shroud, she had seen Jesus the Lord of Life, and she saw with painful clarity, the corruption, unbelief and death that was in her heart.
How often she had sat at the feet of Jesus, believed Him to be the Son of God, but when the stone was rolled over the tomb, all she could think was “Jesus, You don’t care! You used us. Where are You when we need You? If You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Lazarus, whom they thought was maggoty and decaying, walked out of the grave. In that blinding moment of truth, she saw before her the Creator, the I AM, El-Shaddai, the source, the origin of Life, the Master and Keeper of the Universe standing before her, his glory sheathed in human form.
She knew He’d heard her thoughts, just as clearly as if she’d spoken aloud. The accusations she’d hurled at Him, the hardness and resistance in her heart. Jesus saw all, and yet, He had compassion, He did not deny Mary and Martha their unspoken half-believing request.
(Mary kneeling at Jesus’ feet) Lord and giver of Life, forgive me, for I was blind
I thought I knew You,
I see now that eternity is not enough to discover all that You are.
In You I begin to see the heart of the Father Almighty.
You said that You did only what You saw the Father in heaven doing,
When You wept at the grave and were groaning, were You echoing the Father’s heart?
(pouring the oil on His feet) You are the GladTiding-bearer,
crossing mountains and valleys with ease.
How beautiful are Your feet, scarred and calloused as they are,
For You have brought news of the end of the war between God and Man
Proclaiming peace, publishing salvation,
Declaring in every action, ‘Our God reigns!’
His Kingdom’s come!
(wiping His feet with her hair) I have seen the goodness of the LORD,
Pass before me, right before my eyes!
All that I am, all that I have, has worth and meaning
Only as I surrender it all to You in worship and reverence.
Spikenard may fill the house with its glory,
But Your glory fills all the earth.
As I have bowed in worship, and surrendered my glory to You,
I am covered with the fragrance of the oil that I poured out on You.
I see in this moment, but dimly, that I was created to carry Your glory,
To be in Your image, and shine forth the goodness of God.
May I now go forth in Your Name, Lord, to proclaim,
‘Our God reigns! His Kingdom’s come!’
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.
They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Rev 4:9-11 ESV
Worship begins when the ‘light-bulb’ goes off, illuminating and expanding for us the understanding of who God is, and showing us who we are in the light of His Glory. For Mary it was a magnified understanding of who Jesus is as the Son of God, as the Resurrection and the Life. For the twenty-four elders, it is the increasing understanding of the Holiness of God, that leads them to lay down their achievements/crowns/rewards and bow in worship.
When we bow down in worship with our understanding and our spirit, we rise up carrying away the song and perfume of heaven with us, wherever we go.
Sheep and goats bleating, pigeons gurgling, clinks of coins, voices raised in heated argument. Men crouched over desks meticulously recording transactions. Dizzying crowds and activity, dodging people and helpful ‘I can get you an unblemished lamb’ elbow grabbers, benumbed and bewildered, the moment of worship stripped of all its awe and wonder, worshippers going in and out to get ‘it’ over and done with as soon as possible.
Then Jesus, the Son of God, steps into the Temple. He sees with the eyes of His Father. He sees the profit margins, the dodgy deals, poor people being squeezed of more than they can afford. He sees the prideful, boastful, smug self-satisfied hearts of the self-righteous, coming in to give offerings and make sacrifices as a pat on their own backs, a check-box ticked, their halo polished and set just so. He sees the empty, vacuous hearts of those coming to fulfil a requirement. For them, worship was just a superstition, a crossing of fingers, a bribe held out to make sure that their tiny worlds would stay the right way up.
Where are the worshippers? The ones seeking to know the Lord? Where are the worshippers? The ones in love with the Lord.
Is it all about giving and taking? About bribing and boot-licking, to make one’s voice and petition heard? Is that how you see My Father? As a petty bribe-taking bureaucrat, needing his palm greased before he lifts a finger in your behalf?
Is this is all that it has come to? Keeping accounts, haggling for better bargains, a hastily said prayer, with nary a thought for the Maker except for the benefits He brings to mankind? Oh where, Oh where are the Lovers, who seek to dwell in the courts of the Lord? Have they been driven out by this mad, noisy throng?
Let Me make a way for the Seekers, the true Lovers and Worshippers of God, out of my way all you merchants, all you millstones and stumbling blocks! My Father’s house will be a house of prayer!
Prayer! Communion with the Lord. Bowing in worship before Him. Hearing Him speak in your heart. A place where all that is worldly is stilled and silenced before the Holy Living God.
Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; 1Co 6:19 GNB
What does the Saviour see when He looks into my heart?
Grudge books, outstanding debts waiting to be collected? Records of favours given, and favours yet to be collected? Profit and loss statements of conditional love given and received?
Is my heart a merchant’s warehouse, full of the noise of the world? Am I replete and smug in the knowledge of my own goodness? Shallow, with a bargaining eye on the favours that are held in the Maker’s hands?
Who is it I am serving? Whose kingdom am I working to build?
The Lord, the true Owner of my Life and Heart comes to claim His place, but He comes in peace on a donkey to cast out the world system built on conditional love that held sway for so long in my heart.
Grudge books, registers, records of rights and wrongs, all flushed out by the Living Waters of His Word. The Prince of Peace enters, a new economy He sets into place. Freely you have received, now freely give, unconditional love must now hold sway.
With all the clutter and deadweight gone, my heart is stilled to hear, the voice of the One who spoke the world into existence. My eyes can now clearly see the splendour and majesty of the One who loves me and gave His life for me. In sweet communion, kneeling at the feet of the Lord, I am set free to worship, to declare with every breath, ‘Lord, you alone are worthy, to be honoured, heard and obeyed’
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments… My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them … and my Father and I will come to them and live with them. John 14:15,21,23