I lead a small group of incredibly awesome 7th grade girls-- shout out to the Lil' Yaks! (long story on the name...) Last week we talked about Mary of Bethany. To prepare I used Logos to read the passage through, looked at a commentary, and then looked at the passage in the original Greek translated word by word--shout out to Logos!
I just adore this passage. Here you have a woman who's robe was probably low cut. She shows up at a house of the spiritual and social leader on the night of a dinner. The house is full of important dudes in big hats. Their wives probably were there in a separate part of the house passing around stories of her sins as she walked by. Mary's heart is pounding, I bet. She makes eye contact with no one as she works her way through the crowd. It was probably pretty easy, since none of them wanted to touch her, well, in public anyway.
Then she sees Him. The first man who's ever looked her in the eye. Who doesn't glower and leer depending on who else is around. Who looks on her with a pure love and isn't ashamed to be caught smiling at this "sinner." The first man who wants only her soul, but oh how he treasures that. He sees loveliness her her personhood.
And that is worth anything. How do you tell someone how much they mean to you? You give them your best. All men have wanted is access to her body parts. All this man wants is for her to sanctify them before God, to honor Him by keeping herself only unto her Lord. Pure. To be the woman He sees in her. So what do you give him? How do you show that you're madly in love in the most righteous sense possible? That you understand that things are not "sinful" or "righteous," but the way they are used is?
You take something used in your trade, the perfume you wore to lure men, and you offer it for a holy purpose. You give it all up for him. To him.
It's no wonder she started to, as the Greek word says, "rain" tears on Jesus' feet. For the first time since she was little, perhaps, her soul is coming up for air. It's a beautiful image.
And, if I'm honest, an awkward one.
The raw intimacy of it all is astounding. How on earth did she do it? I mean I don't like to cry in public. I close my eyes to worship so I won't consider what others think about my raised hands. I've thought about kneeling in service, but people might stare. And here we find Mary, hunched over the feet of Jesus as He eats, surrounded by people who openly disdain her, and she's raining on him, tears and kisses, wiping his feet with her hair and pouring the whole bottle of scent, perhaps one familiar to some in attendance, over his feet.
I think she didn't see them. The others, I mean. I think she hurried past them until she found Jesus and then....ah, then He was all she saw. Jesus was her focus and the rest were lost in a blur of tears. The two of them there, in the middle of a room, showing each other pure and boundless love.
Mary, in her emotional, expressive response, is honoring her Lord and declaring her faith.
There is often a debate over the truest form of worship--is it emotional or intellectual. I think we all agree it has elements of both, but perhaps the truest form of worship isn't the same for all people. For the centurion who came, faith was demonstrated in his trusting of Jesus to heal without being present. For Peter, it was the knowledge and a willingness to say, "You are the Christ." And for Mary, it was an act born of an overwhelming emotion too big for words. So big it needed to be physically expressed.
I just love that.
I love that our God who made us knows that our hearts beat differently, and thus respond differently to Him. I love that He is too big for one form of worship. I love that He finds glory in the awkward, the mundane, the bold. My God, my dear Lord, oh my heart stirs for you. Give me that moment when you and I love and the world fades away. I so want more of you. All my love.