Her heart is pounding with excitement. She looks down at the grey stone box she is holding and a joyful smile lights up her face. She thinks back to the previous week, the visit to the talented specialist who custom blended the rare, exotic fragrance she now holds in her hands. “Yes, it is perfect,” she murmurs to herself. “It is the perfect way to honor the Master Teacher,” who is now seated in their front room.
How she loves and respects the Master Teacher, and how grateful she feels towards him, for the incredible favor he did for her family a few days ago. A favor so great no gift could ever repay him, but this special surprise will let him know how much he is honored.
With eager anticipation she enters the room and kneels at his feet, opens the stone box and begins pouring the costly perfume over his feet. “Are you crazy? What in the world are you doing?” The voice is loud and condescending, and comes from one of the Master Teacher’s associates. He continues, “What a waste! You’re throwing away a year’s salary. That money could have been given to a worthy cause like feeding the poor.”
Her smile vanishes, replaced by confusion and clouds of doubt. “Am I being wasteful?” she wonders. “I thought this was the perfect gift, but am I wrong?” She’s afraid to look at the Master Teacher; afraid she will see disapproval on his face.
Then she hears his voice. As always, it is calm and full of warmth. “Let her alone. The poor will always be with you, but I will only be here a little while longer. She honors me by preparing my body for burial.”
Relief floods through her and joy resurfaces in a broad smile on her face. She looks into his face and is greeted by his love-filled eyes. “I knew it!” she thinks. “It is the perfect gift!”
You may have recognized the story above as an incident from the life of Jesus. (John 12:1-8) The woman, Mary, is the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead a few days earlier. That was the incredible gift she could never repay. The criticism came from a disciple, Judas Iscariot, and caused Mary to doubt herself. But the warm way Jesus received her gift and his verbal affirmation validated her love and thoughtfulness. In receiving, He was giving.
Have you ever had an experience like this woman? You got what you thought was the perfect gift for someone, only to later have second thoughts about it. You were really anxious until they opened the gift. Then their excitement and happiness gave you so much joy, it was like you were getting the gift! As we enter the holiday season, I hope we all remember that we give to others, not only in the gifts we give them, but in how we receive the gifts they give to us.
In fact, do you know that you can make God’s joy complete? When God sent His Son into the world, He was so eager to give His gift to us that He had His angels deliver a singing telegram to some shepherds, and accompanied it with a spectacular light show (see Luke 2: 8-18). Whenever anyone receives the gift of His Son Jesus, God receives so much joy that He throws a party and all heaven celebrates! (Luke 15:7,10)
Give God the gift He most desires, by receiving Jesus as your Savior this Christmas!
Please join us this Sunday at 9:00 or 11:00 AM. We are starting a new series this December, “A Prophetic Christmas.” This week, in my message, “Immanuel,” we will unwrap God’s incredible gift of His Son, Jesus.