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“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:1-3).

Half the carrot harvest tumbled in the broth around chunks of their only lamb. Rich herb aromas billowed from the stew and pressed smiles into the sisters’ faces.

Mary patted Martha’s back. “You did a beautiful job, as always.”

“What better use of the food? I’d give Him all of it, if only we had more room at the table.” She stepped back from the kettle and peered into the next room. Eyes brimming, she laid a hand on her chest. “My heart leaps like a gazelle at the sight of Lazarus laughing alongside Him out there.”

Mary put an arm around her sister’s shoulders and gave her a quick squeeze. “Yes, we know how well the Lord cares for us. God will provide another lamb for Passover.”

As they ladled the extravagant meal into a pot, a refreshing cascade of peace washed over Mary. She felt joy and calm as if a divine breeze cooled her perspiration-drenched skin.

Steam filled Mary’s head covering, infusing her hair with rosemary fragrance as she carried the pot toward the reclining circle of men. Her brother’s charming smile warmed her heart. The familiar faces surrounding him included curious neighbors and cousins. The Teacher’s closest followers dominated the conversation with animated gestures and challenging remarks.

Mary’s gaze secured on one pair of callused feet. Extended from the table, the rough heels bore cracks from miles of travel. Bruises and insect stings framed the sides and toes. The battered, lovely feet of her Master and Teacher. She rested the pot on the table and glanced at His marvelous eyes. In their infinite depths, they seemed to bear a wistful gleam of both joy and care at once. Her Lord.

“Tell Martha she outdid herself,” Lazarus said.

Mary fled the table without responding. She sprinted, not to the kitchen, but to the sleeping quarters she shared with her sister. She grabbed a stick from the table and dropped to her knees at the room’s corner. Five hand-breadths from the wall, she hacked the earthen floor broke open. Mary reached into the cool hollow and wrapped her fingers around the chilled alabaster vessel inside. A treasure meant to seal her in marriage.

She clutched the vessel to her chest and stood, recalling how she once considered this the only thing of value she possessed. Tears careened over the rising apples of her cheeks as she raced into the main room. There they were. The priceless feet of her Lord.

Mary knelt. The conversation buzzed on as the men gave little notice to the one so often drawn to the Master’s feet. The vessel trembled in her grip. Fingers slippery with tears, she broke its neck. The crack of alabaster silenced the room. Her chest burned as she poured her heart out with its contents. Mary drenched every beautiful, bruised inch of those feet with the rich oil. The overflow soaked the tattered hem of His garment. Her eyes blurred as she kissed the blisters on his toes.

More. Her core ached with adoration.

She tore the covering from her head. Untethering her locks, she wrapped them around his soles. Pressing, patting her hair against the magnificent feet of her Savior.

Not everyone enjoyed the overpowering rush of nard at dinnertime. The scent’s strength qualified it to perfume the dead. Most of the guests waited for Jesus’ reaction. Except the one most offended by heartfelt praise. Judas dwelt outside the capacity to appreciate sacrifice, to give or accept divine love, or to understand the fragrance of true discipleship.

As Easter approaches, the opportunity to pour our heart’s treasures onto the Lord’s feet dawns before us. Our worship will be unique in nature. However it looks for each of us, all genuine adoration flows with abandon. Nothing we could hold back compares in value to the One Who offers Himself so fully to us.

The fragrance of our love and commitment for Christ will fill the air around us. The impact lingers and spreads. No one can deny such a compelling effect, for it seems to cover the stench of death so common in the rest of the world. Not everyone will enjoy or understand it. Some will find our aroma offensive.

When others shame or ridicule our extravagant love for the Lord, we can assure ourselves that we’re in good company. They found Jesus offensive, too.

Let’s pray for tho who remain outside to grow appreciative of sacrifice, to accept divine love in order to pay it forward, and to comprehend at last the divine fragrance of true discipleship. And through all, keep that strong fragrance pouring forth.

We travel the daily paths of life as vagrants. Our home exists in another Kingdom. We wear rags now, as opposed to the robes of our inheritance. Passers by hurl insults and treat us with contempt. Betrayal can dim the light around our campfires. Life’s rough journey can sap our strength. Chilly nights and painful days can tempt callouses to grow over our tender hearts. Some of us begin adopting the mindsets of the world’s residents.

Then the uncommon peddler arrives, selling without taking payment from customers. He wears rags, like we do, but dances in them. Expressing thanks for his walk, he wraps the blisters on his soles. The peddler grants compassion to the hecklers, the back-stabbers, and their victims. His smile blares a silent melody. The insults fade into background noise in his presence. He sings to brighten the fires, and springs onto the road with vigor each morning. The peddler discourages us from marveling at his indefatigable joy. Instead, he offers the secret to living an awe-drenched life. He refuses compensation, since the joy came to him free of charge. In fact, he insists all Kingdom citizens have access to it already.

We lean in, expecting a profound discipline of daily steps. His recipe seems too simple at first. “Seek God. Seek the Lord with all your heart. Cling to His love with your mind and soul. Let nothing else shift your focus from the love of Christ. What you seek, you will likely live by.”

If I look for sunshine, I can find its light despite a thick cover of storms. If I scour the day’s journey in search of beauty, I will find some remnant of creation to satisfy my pursuit. Complaints present themselves with little effort, and it takes no work to discover a shadow. I must choose my focus with determination, or my mindset will slide into the world’s default setting of darkness. I don’t want the common life of likely pity and despair. I will aspire to peddle the secret to indefatigable joy, clinging to the love of my Savior until I am no longer a vagrant. I might not model it with perfection at first, but Kingdom citizens don’t have to journey this road alone. Perhaps we can support one another’s efforts to dance on sore feet and brighten the campfires with His love.

“I say these things …so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them…the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world... I pray also …that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me… I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” – John 17:13-25

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

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