When was the last time you thought “outside the box?” The idea of thinking outside of the box is thought to have originated in the 1970’s or 1980’s when corporations challenged employees to complete the infamous “nine dots” puzzle as an exercise in lateral thinking. Today, the phrase is widely used to refer to anyone showing an ability to see the big picture or be extraordinarily creative. While thinking “outside the box” is definitely a sign of individuality, there is one action that goes beyond simply being outside the box. Sometimes, you have to give all that you have to give, holding nothing back, and boldly break open the box.
In the books of Mark and Matthew, we read of a woman whom Jesus’ disciples rebuke. Why? All because she breaks open a box of perfume. Mark 14:3 (NIV) says, “A woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” She didn’t just think outside the box. She broke open the alabaster jar (or box), pouring out the contents on Jesus’ head. While it was customary back then to anoint someone with a drop or two of essential oil when they entered your home, no one would have thought to literally pour this potent liquid on someone’s head. This perfume was made from the Nard plant found in the Himalayas that grows at an altitude of 3000-5000 meters. Imported from India, the perfume is created by crushing and distilling the roots of this plant to create an amber-colored essential oil. In other words, this was not your average perfume found at the local drug store. It was quite expensive and is not something that would have typically been poured out so freely. Jesus’ disciples knew this all too well.
The disciples said, “‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor’” (Matthew 26:8-9 NIV). Besides the monetary cost, the scent of this perfume was very strong, and likely lasted for up to ten days. One or two drops would have been adequate. Because of the customs in place at the time, the disciples did not see the need for such drastic measures. I’m sure they thought, yes, this is Jesus our Lord, but one or two extra drops would be just fine! He will understand. There is no need for extravagance here! But this woman did not just want to give a little. She wanted to give a lot. She wanted to be extravagant because God showed extravagance in His love for her. This woman knew that the One she anointed was worth it all. He was a priceless treasure, unlike the perfume she used to pour on Jesus’ head.
The perfume she used was estimated to have cost more than 300 denarii, which would have been equal to the average person’s yearly wages. What would your husband, your wife, your family, or your friends say if you spent a year’s wages all at once? Just imagine. One decision and every penny you worked so hard for over the course of the entire year is gone. Yet, she did not have any hesitation. The Bible says she “came,” “she broke the jar,” and “poured the perfume on his head.” It doesn’t say that she stopped to think about what she was doing, or that she poured a little bit first and then slowly drained out the rest of the container. She knew what she must do. She came there on a mission. She had no doubts, no fears, and no concern for what others thought of her. She knew that she was in the presence of the Lord God Almighty and that was enough for her to break open the box and give her all.
Although this woman is unnamed, she will always be remembered as someone who did not just give a little to Jesus; instead, she gave everything she had. Jesus recognized the greatness of her kind gesture. Jesus said, “‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6 NIV). Jesus does not tell her that she should have sold the perfume to give to the poor. Instead, He tells them that they will always have the poor with them, but that He will not always be there (Mark 14:7 NIV). The woman’s action was in preparation for His burial. Soon He would be crucified. The woman gave a year’s salary to prepare Him for the difficult task ahead of Him. Yet Judas Iscariot agrees to hand over Jesus to the chief priests for only thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15 NIV). By comparison, this would be about $15 worth of silver today. The woman spent a year’s salary to anoint Jesus. Judas received fifteen dollars to betray Jesus. He sold Jesus out for the price of a pizza. But the woman essentially empties her pockets in an effort to show her love toward the Savior. In doing so, she finds favor in the sight of the Lord.
Jesus says, “'She did what she could'” (Mark 14:8 NIV). Jesus doesn’t say that she did a little bit. It doesn’t say that she should have done more. No. It says she did what she could. She gave all that she had to give. There was nothing left. She held nothing back, she didn’t show any restraint. She put herself out there and boldly broke open the box and poured all of the perfume on Jesus’ head. Jesus recognized the magnitude of her generous deed. Jesus said, “‘Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’” (Matthew 26:13 NIV). This woman’s boldness and compassion for Jesus is still being remembered more than 2,000 years later. All because she disregarded the opinions of others, ignored the rebukes from Jesus’ disciples, and broke open the box for Jesus.
Often times, we worry about what other people think. We worry about what they’ll say about us, or whether they will even like us. We may even alter our conversations just to be more in tune with what they want to hear. Telling others about what Jesus Christ has done in our lives often becomes a cumbersome task, even if we are among other Christians. People squirm in their seats when the name of Jesus is mentioned or when the Holy Spirit is talked about. But the Bible declares that we are to boldly go into the whole world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15 NIV). We are called to tell other people about the saving grace of knowing the one true God. We can’t just sprinkle in a few words here or there like the disciples thought the woman should have just used a small amount of perfume. We need to pour it all out. We have to break open the box, laying all of the cards out on the table, and share the plan of salvation with others before it is too late.
There is no cost too great. There is not one thing in this world that is more valuable than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. There is nothing on this planet that should come between us and witnessing to someone in need. We need to get outside of the box, pick up that box, and break it open for Jesus. We need to be a bright light in this sea of darkness we find ourselves living in. We need to disregard the opinions of others and focus on the One who truly matters: Jesus Christ. By living our lives fully dedicated to the cause of Christ, we will be blessed abundantly. By giving all we can, holding nothing back, we can live a life according to the will of God. I challenge you to tell someone about Jesus Christ today! Be bold, stand firm, and break open the box!
In Christ’s Love,