Based on Matthew 26 and John 12.
Miriam stood in her room, staring at the special jar on her shelf. Her mind raced back and forth with different memories and thoughts. She knew what she had to do, she wasn’t doubting that, nor was she scared. She was just wondering why.
Not long before that day, her family had gone through an event that was so unusual and so miraculous, that people continued to talk about it. Her brother, her beloved brother, had taken seriously ill and after the passage of a few short days, he died, She, herself, suffered to see her brother in such pain. She and her sister did all that they could, but his situation worsened and they both knew that only a miracle could save him. But, the miracle did not come in time to save him from dying. While he was suffering, a dear family friend, someone all three siblings had to come to know and love, was in the area, only about a day’s journey from their home. The sisters believed that He could do something to help restore their brother’s health. They sent someone to ask Him to come. In their heart of hearts, they believed that if anyone could help her brother, it was Yeshua. They knew He had a special love for them and they waited anxiously for Him to come. But, He didn’t. Then why didn’t He just pray for their brothers healing if He couldn’t come. They watched their brother die and were at a loss for words why their friend, the One who could have helped, did not do so.
Miriam stood there remembering, and beginning to understand only now just how little they knew back then, not realising God had a plan. After all, their friend wasn’t just an ordinary man. He was the longed for Messiah, the Hope of Israel, and, specifically, the hope of their family. She knew it and she knew He was God himself who had to come to save them. Oh, there was much she didn’t know yet, as she reflected on all the times she sat at His feet, listening to Him…how her heart yearned to hear more, to learn more, to listen to Him forever.
Miriam’s mind wandered back to her brother’s death. Yeshua finally came, but only four days after her brother had died and his body was placed in the tomb. For her and her sister, Martha, as well as for the rest of the close relatives and friends of the family, all hope was lost. But Yeshua was there and death could not be victorious in His presence. He wept over the loss of His friend, over the sin that had entered the world. He had come to give life and life ever lasting. He prayed and commanded her brother to come forth. Lazarus believed not only what Yeshua said, but also Who Yeshua was. And at the sound of His voice and His command, Lazarus rose from the dead and came out of the tomb, burial clothes and all … after four days! He did far them far beyond what they could ask for or even think Unheard of before. The miracle they sought for – their brother being raised from his sick bed – could not be compared with the miracle that they experienced – their brother being raised from the dead. Yes, a miracle so unique that people came from all over to see the man who returned from the dead.
And now, once again, their brother sat at their table, in their house, continuing his life. And Yeshua was there too, with his twelve disciples. Miriam somehow knew that this might be the last time she would see Him. She heard Him speak and relate how He must go up to Jerusalem and be handed over to be crucified. She didn’t understand why, but she knew she had to take that special jar on the shelf and bring it to Him now. She lifted it gently off the shelf and held it tightly in her hands, thinking how she gathered and saved every drop of that fragrant perfume throughout the years for her own, special day – her wedding day. She planned to use it for herself when engaged, anointing herself with oils prior to her wedding day and saving the best oil for that special day. Nard was so expensive and the special jar she kept it in was beautiful. It had the priceless nard with another precious oil that enabled the anointing of the body, which Miriam managed to buy slowly over a period of time. It was the most precious item she had, but she wanted to give it to Yeshua.
Miriam entered the room, all eyes were fixed on Yeshua as He spoke, just as He had done many times before in their home. He saw her entering the room. He never missed a detail in what was going on around Him. Yeshua looked at Miriam and smiled slightly. Miriam knew then what she needed to do and could not escape the thought that He already knew what she was going to do. His smile, which always brightened the room, now seemed sad.
She slowly approached Yeshua and then, getting on her knees at the place where Yeshua sat, she broke the seal on the vessel. Immediately, the room was filled with such a sweet-smelling savor, one that most people in the room had never experienced. All eyes were turned to her now, surprised and wondering what was going on. Miriam just looked at Yeshua, whom she called “Lord” and proceeded to slowly pour the expensive ointment on His head. As the oil poured down to His face and beard, Miriam poured the rest on His feet and began wiping them with her hair. She did it out of love for her Lord, She just knew she had to. Yeshua understood, but His disciples didn’t.
Someone began complaining why she didn’t just sell the jar of perfume and give the money to the poor. Yeshua said “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her”. He looked at Miriam, affirming her actions. She now understood why she needed to do what she did.
A week later, she stood in her room again, looking at the shelf and thinking of the events of the previous week and of the broken jar of perfume. She reflected on anointing her Lord before His death, not knowing the events that were soon to follow. After the anointing from the jar that she broke, she pieced together all she had learned from Yeshua before and she realised not only that He would die, but just like with her brother, He would rise again, defeating death once and for all. That is why she never went with the other women to anoint His body after He was placed in the tomb following His crucifixion. She already did that in His life. She knew He would live. And when she saw Him alive, He smiled again, a smile of eternal Love and victory.
A final reflection on a broken bottle: We have this treasure in earthen vessels. If we allow these vessels to be broken, what kind of fragrance would fill our souls, our homes, our work places and the place of our fellowship? Is there something precious to us that we are holding onto. Why not bring this also to the feet of the Lord Yeshua?
© Hannah Kramer