by Joy Anna Rosendale
It is possible for us to delight Jesus! He feels how much we love Him. He is highly aware of our choices to respond to situations in faith and obedience, and He sees each sacrifice we make to care for others. To Him, these expressions of love are like an alabaster jar full of fragrant perfume. When I discovered the “alabaster jar principle” years ago, it became a major metaphor of my life and has transformed my trials and challenges into noble and beautiful opportunities.
Do you remember Mary’s story? Her family in Bethany was holding a dinner party to celebrate Jesus raising her brother Lazarus from the dead. While Martha lovingly served, Mary walked into the room holding her very costly treasure. She knelt beside Jesus, and with a loud crack, shattered her exquisitely carved, shimmering alabaster flask. Then she poured out on Jesus’ head and feet its entire contents of extremely expensive spikenard ointment.
The nard had been carried overland from India, thousands of miles through treacherous mountains and deserts. Upon reaching Israel, it was cultivated into spikenard, the most elite of perfumes. In today’s currency, Mary’s dazzling jar and its prized contents would be worth about $40,000. This was Mary’s treasure. She lavished it all on Jesus, and it gave Him great pleasure! He exclaimed, “She has done a beautiful thing to me!”
We have an alabaster jar to give Jesus, too. It isn’t something tangible, but it is an expression of something valuable to us. Giving it to Him in faith and love costs us a lot. To give you an example, I will share about the alabaster jar I gave Him years ago and what I am giving today. I was married to an evangelist who was involved in fraud and immorality. Standing true to Jesus through the whole thing was a severe fiery trial, but I loved Jesus so much I couldn’t compromise with evil. During that agonizing period, I wrote the following song:
The evangelist finally divorced me to marry someone else; and several years later the Assemblies of God annulled the marriage. But then God spoke to me. He told me that He had custom-designed me for one man only—as He made Eve for Adam—and once He finished “building me,” He would bring me to the husband of His choice. I am not to date, only serve Him, while He slowly unfolds His divine plan for my life. I love Jesus so much that I willingly give back to Him what I want most: a godly marriage partnership in ministry. Being single in ministry and faithfully waiting for God’s perfect will has been hard. It often means loneliness, unfulfillment, and awkwardness. But Jesus is worth it! Realizing the pain is being transformed into an alabaster jar from which I pour the treasure of my love upon Jesus—and it gives Him great pleasure!—makes the sacrificial waiting for God’s choice of a husband glorious!
Your alabaster jar is probably different. Maybe it is serving faithfully in an unnoticed place with little recognition from people; or serving courageously in a tough place while dealing with opposition in order to bring Christ’s light to desperately needy people. Possibly it is embarking obediently on a new ministry assignment for which you feel unqualified and are depending upon the Spirit’s help every step of the way. It could be your jar is bearing with difficult people in wisdom and kindness. Perhaps it is perseveringly trusting the Lord for your children’s salvation; or surrendering your deepest hurts to Jesus for inner healing and forgiving the people who wounded and robbed you; or responding to illnesses in steadfast faith. In essence, all of these are demonstrations of love for Jesus.
Whatever our alabaster jars are, we have a choice. If we respond to the challenge in fear, anger, self-pity, complaining, or self-centeredness, it deteriorates into an ugly can of ashes. But when we choose to embrace God’s will as a sincere expression of how much we love and trust Him, then the Holy Spirit transforms the difficulty into an exquisite alabaster jar. It is the setting in which He builds in us the radiant character qualities of godly womanhood: faith, courage, obedience, perseverance, discernment, kindness, wisdom, and above all, love.
How does Jesus feel about this? Thrilled! Delighted! Our love penetrates His heart and fills Him with joy! Picture Jesus seated in front of you as you kneel before Him, pouring the perfume of your life all over Him. Gaze at His radiant smile as He looks deeply into your eyes and sees all the sacrifice, surrender, and dedication involved in your costly gift. Let the joy of knowing you are blessing Jesus gratify your heart. He greatly values what you are offering Him. Your treasure gives Him pleasure.
Joy, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, is earning a Doctor of Ministry degree from Global University. She served as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Life at an AG church in Pennsylvania before the Lord called her to Springfield in 2019 to serve as an intercessor. Joy is unmarried with no children. She delights in connecting with people and encouraging them, and she keeps busy with discipling, teaching, and writing. Her passion is to help grow spiritually healthy Christians and to help cultivate revival in the Church.