Whispers of Faith

When We Shatter … And He Calls It a Beautiful Thing

She hung back in the shadows – the room warm and filled with the noise of people talking and dishes clanking. It was always like this wherever Jesus went – people were constantly talking to him and vying for his attention. Who was she to think that she’d have anything more special for him? But she held in her hands the most precious item she owned – an expensive jar of perfume – and in her eyes, the only one worthy of receiving it was him.

The air was filled with expectancy. She somehow felt that it if she did not give it to Jesus now, she never would be able to. Yet – giving it to him seemed so stunted, so – so unnatural. It didn’t seem quite right just to hand him the jar of perfume. But what else to do with it?

As she stood there furtively watching the actions of the disciples and other guests, palms sweating in her nervousness, she suddenly knew what to do with it. And before she could change her mind, she slipped through the crowded room, right up behind where Jesus lay reclining at the table.

With a sharp crack to the wall beside her, she shattered the neck of the jar and in one fell movement, poured the perfume over Jesus’ head. The room instantly fell silent as the scent filled the air. She met no one’s gaze, simply moved to Jesus’ feet, dripping oils upon them as she did so.

Judas, always the one with an opinion, was the first to speak.

“You stupid woman! What were you thinking, wasting all that perfume? Don’t you know you could have sold it for a handsome price and given the money to the poor?”

Murmurs from other disciples joined in this thought, echoing his words and gathering in heated accusations.

She couldn’t bear to look Jesus in the eye, the weight of their judgment adding to all the other wrongdoing she had committed in her life. All she had wanted to do was give Jesus this gift – the only gift she had – and now she had failed, yet again. Tears filled her eyes and spilled over onto his feet, mingling with the perfume.

Then suddenly, she heard his voice.

“Stop,” he was saying to his disciples. “Leave her alone.”

In that brief moment of silence, she felt his hand cup under her chin and bring her eyes up to meet his. Never before had she seen such love emanate from his eyes, and she couldn’t look away.

“You have done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me with you. You have anointed my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”

She caught her breath, not quite understanding the depth of what he was saying, but somehow feeling that in her humble gift, she had participated in a plan much grander than her own little life.

She would forever remember that moment – not the cruel words of the doubters and naysayers – not the house or the room – but when Jesus’ look of love pierced to the depths of her soul and said, “Yes. I will accept your brokenness. It is beautiful to me, because it’s everything you have. And I will take those jagged shards of your life and create a mosaic of grace so stunning nothing else can compare to it.”

And he did. Only a mere three or four days later, he stretched out his arms on the cross and said, “It is finished.” The mockers in the crowd challenged him to save himself, not realizing that by his very staying up there and not saving himself, he was saving and redeeming all of humanity.

He allowed himself to be broken upon the cross so that he can take us shattered ones and make us whole.

And that – that is the most beautiful thing in the world.

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