A Surprise Lesson at VBS

Tonight’s VBS lesson covered Mark 14:1-9. It’s a super familiar story about the woman who broke the bottle of super expensive perfume over Jesus’ head, got criticized for wasting it, but was backed up by Jesus. The theme for the night was “I can give God my best,” and this story was an obvious illustration of that.

When we got to the part about how the men were criticizing the woman for wasting the oil, I asked the kids what she could have used the oil for instead. The answer I was expecting was, “She could sell it to give to the poor.” I mean, isn’t that what Judas said?

But the answers surprised me: “She could use it as perfume.” “She could use it to make her house smell good.” “She could have just poured out a little bit instead of breaking the jar.”

And it was one of those moments that God showed me a little something new in an old familiar story. I had never actually thought about the significance of her breaking the jar. I guess I’ve always pictured the jar being one of those contraptions that you have to break to get into, like a piggy bank or a pinata. But the Scripture doesn’t say anything like that; for all we know, it could have had an easily removable and replaceable cork.

And why break the jar? I mean, it was a nice jar. She could have poured the contents out and tucked the jar into her cloak to save for later. Or she could have left it for Jesus to keep as a souvenir. Who knows, maybe the alabaster jar, even without the perfume, would be something of value enough to sell and give the proceeds to the poor!

Well, I don’t know why she broke it. But, if I were her, I know why I would have broken it. Because, once it was broken, I’d know that there’s no going back.

If I had simply uncorked the bottle and poured it out on Jesus’ head, even if I intended to pour out every last drop, I know that there would be a point where I’d start second-guessing that choice. I think that’s enough. It’s covered his whole head now. I don’t think I need to use all of this, after all.

I’ve done it more times than I can count. I start to give to Jesus with full intentions of giving everything. But I’ll get to a certain point and decide I’ve given enough.

Now, God gave me a brain and I need to be a good steward of that and use it! I can’t throw caution to the wind every single moment of every single day. I need to make decisions based on a little common sense and a lot of prayer.

But sometimes, through that prayer, God is going to tell me to break the jar.

Because once the jar is broken, I can’t get that perfume back and keep it for myself.

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