Alabaster – Breaking the Rules for the Sake of Christ

The guests were reclining at the table when suddenly the door burst open and there stood a woman.   Her attire gave her away as a woman of ill repute.  The conversation stopped and a gasp across the room added to the awkwardness of the situation.  Then without restraint she began to weep.  Not just a sob but a deep release of pain and shame exploded from within her as she stood in front of the one she had heard about, weeping.

He was the messiah, the prince of peace, the only one who could truly wipe away her shame and restore her dignity.  As she clasped her alabaster jar, the only thing that was pure in her possession, she had a single thought.  Would he accept her offering?  Her  parents  who were not rich, had bought a few drops of perfume every year of her life since she was just one year old.  The perfume was too expensive to buy more than a few drops.  Year after year they had collected this precious gift in her alabaster jar so that one day on her wedding day, she would use this perfume to please her new husband.

But she had disappointed her parents, she had lived a life of reckless abandon because she had lost hope, she had lost her dignity; and she had not found love but only heartache.  Her tears welled up and dropped from her cheeks on to Jesus feet.  Instinctively she fell to her knees trying to wipe away those tears.  She was not even worthy to touch him and yet her heart made her continue because her heart would burst if she could not offer Him the only sacrifice she had left.  The flood of sweet perfume filled the room as she washed his feet and kissed them in total abandonment of self worth.   She had given Him her last ounce of the most precious thing in her life in hopes of redemption.

Then Jesus stood and took her by the hands.  He looked deep into her eyes, deeper even into her soul.  And though he had seen her for who she was, she felt safe in his arms and relieved that He would accept her gift even though she had broken all the rules to enter a strangers home filled with men and to worship him in a way that no one had ever done.  Then he said the most precious words she had heard in all her life.  “Woman your sins are forgiven!”

Oh what joy filled her heart!  He had understood!  Now the tears flowed from joy that she could not explain or contain.  The burden lifted, the curse removed, she was redeemed by his love and set free by His words.  Her life would never be the same again.  Her worship would now be to do the will of the Father because Jesus had set her free, and she was free indeed.  She turned and left his presence with the crowd of men still wondering what had happened.  She knew though!  She was free to go and sin no more.

What a scene of mercy and love and grace.  Each night the Jesus film is shown in nearly 28 countries of Africa this story impacts the lives of thousands.  People see the grace of the master who clearly is looking for those willing to break the rules.  Those who have been bound in sin, but are now set free to live in grace because they pushed past their cultural norms, they entered into a school room or left their homes and stood in an open field to watch the Jesus Film against the will of their families, or their religious leaders. 

Risking all they came forward to meet Jesus and to worship him.  He set them free by his act of grace where he willingly laid down his life for the sins of each of us.  Though he had the right to sit at the throne of God in the heavenly realm, he chose to step down and sacrifice himself so that others might be saved.   Oh what good news we have to share at this season of Easter.  The king of kings was not taken down and left in a grave.  He is Risen!  He has conquered the grave.  He lives in you and me and his story is shared again and again to those who have lost all hope and all dignity.  Then he looks us in the eye, into the depth of our soul, and says those precious words “your sins are forgiven!”

Oh the joy of sharing this Alabaster story with those who need to hear the good news.  I have been overwhelmed by how God continues to provide equipment for our teams, support for motorcycles, films in many languages, audio bibles in every tongue so that the whole world might know this Jesus.  If we only lift him up, like a film on a screen, he will draw all peoples to himself.

I hope that you will join us in the mission to reach the lost.  The message might be on a new boat that will run up the Congo river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to unreached people groups, or it may be on a donkey on the border of Mali to a nomad tribe that has never heard.  The message may be on the back of a motorcycle in the rain forest of Liberia or the dusty plains of the Sahel in northern Benin.  It might even be on a small screen tablet shared in a home in Ethiopia because to show it in public might put the person in jail.  The message might be shared from a phone on a bus ride in the urban city of Lagos or Johannesburg, but no matter where the message goes, the results are the same.

Jesus, the lamb who was worthy, gave his life for me and you and that has made all the difference in the world.  Break the rules this Easter.  Give lavishly!  Worship without regard to the social norms and pour out your everything because worthy is the lamb that was slain.  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Let the whole world know!

Thanks for your prayers and continued support of the work of the Church of the Nazarene through the ministry of Tim and Michelle Eby.  We can’t do it without you.  Every training event, every phone call of encouragement to a Jesus film leader, or a visit to a discouraged missionary makes a difference.  The gospel will not go out without a cost and a sacrifice.  May you be blessed this Easter season in knowing that you are part of a missional Church of the Nazarene that will always say “yes” when God calls us to GO!

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