April 6, 2009
“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He sat at meat.”
Matthew 26: 6, 7, King James Version
“The Fragrance of Gratitude”
“Verily I say unto you, ‘Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.’”
Jesus, Matthew 26: 13, King James Version
Have I thanked Jesus recently for all He has done for me?
“Suddenly everything is simple. We can drop all the big, cumbersome terms. Gratefulness says it all.”
“Gratitude to God should be as habitual as the reception of mercies is constant, as ardent as the number of them is great, as devout as the riches of divine grace and goodness is incomprehensible.”
You might be wondering why we’re studying about “gratitude” during the week we celebrate Easter. Usually “gratitude” is a word we use around Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, not on Easter Sunday. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying people aren’t grateful during Easter. What I am saying is that “gratitude” isn’t a word we hear that often at this time of year!
Well, today that’s going to change! And for a very good reason. As I began to study about “gratitude,” much to my surprise I found something very enlightening. One of those, “WOW,” moments when the Bible comes alive and fills you to overflowing.
The word “gratitude” shares the same root word as “grace.” Yes, grace – the free and boundless mercy of God. The same grace that filled a Father’s heart and led Him to send to earth the greatest treasure in His life – His only begotten Son, Jesus. But there’s even more to this little word study. The word “thanksgiving” is from the same root word as “think.” Now, let’s put this phenomenal insight into one thought. When I am filled with a spirit of gratitude, I’m filled with God’s Spirit of grace. In describing grace, Charles L. Allen noted, “In the Bible there are three distinctive meanings of grace: it means the mercy and active love of God; it means the winsome attractiveness of God; it means the strength of God to overcome.” I want to add a fourth meaning to this fabulous list. Grace also means I’m permeated, every fiber of my being, and filled with gratitude to my God. Every time I think, I thank.
This gives me an entirely new way to “think” about Easter, for now, every time I think about Easter I’ll be thanking and giving gratitude continuously to God for His gift of grace.
This is why the story in Matthew 26: 6, 7 contains such a powerful lesson for you and me. The Bible tells us that at the home of Simon the leper, a woman, having an alabaster box of precious ointment, poured the perfumed balm over Jesus’ head, and then there is this added detail to the story in other gospels, “the odor filled the room.”
While some of the observers in the room criticized this act of unabashed extravagance, Jesus responded to this outpouring of fragrant gratitude with these unforgettable words: “Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me…For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, ‘wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.’”
Before the celebration on resurrection morning came the appreciation for heaven’s gift of ultimate love. Before the shout of joy that “He is risen,” came the tears of gratitude that He came to earth. Gratitude before the grave was Jesus’ message as to why this act of love would be a memorial, or as the Greek says, “a written record and remembrance,” of this woman, down through the ages. Her life was defined by her spirit of gratitude. We remember her today because she said, “Thank you” to Jesus. Not after the cross but before. Not after the resurrection but before.
Before the agony of Gethsemane, before the flesh-tearing, hand-piercing nails, before the thorns ripped the Kingly head of our Saviour, someone said “Thank you!” It makes me wonder, how many times during the ordeal that confronted Jesus during the next few days of His life, did His thoughts return to a moment when someone said, “I appreciate Your gift for me.”
Let us, this Easter season, before the celebration begins, show appreciation. A simple “thank you” will do! In the words of Gotthold Lessing, “A single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer.”
There is a hymn that is often sung during this time of year, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” The words are attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux and were translated into English by James W. Alexander in 1830. Usually, it is the first verse of this hymn which is familiar. But I want to share verse three with you today:
"What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.”
Why not take time today and just say, “Thank you,” to Jesus!
“Thou hast given so much to me…give one thing more – a grateful heart.”
“A Prayer of Gratitude”
“O mighty God, which for us men
Didst suffer on the cross
The painful pangs of bitter death,
To save our souls from loss,
I yield thee here most hearty thanks,
In that thou dost vouchsafe,
Of me most vile and sinful wretch,
So great regard to have.
Alas, none ever had more cause
To magnify thy name,
Than I, to whom thy mercies showed
Do witness well the same
So many brunts of fretting foes
Whoever could withstand,
If thou had’st not protected me,
With thy most holy hand?
A thousand times in shameful sort
My sinful life had ended,
If by they gracious goodness, Lord,
I had not been defended.
In stinking pools of filthy vice
So deeply was I drowned,
That none there was but thee alone,
To set my foot on ground.
When as the fiend had led my soul
E’en to the gates of hell,
Thou call’dst me back, and dost me choose
In heaven with thee do dwell:-
Let furies now fret on their fill,
Let Satan rage, and roar,
As long as thou art on my side,
What need I care for more?”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009
P.S. Thank you for coming to Transformation Garden. For the next eight days, we are taking a break from our studies about all the women in the Bible to focus on the greatest gift every given to humans, the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. I hope you pass along this free gift to your friends and family. Why not invite someone you care about to join you in the garden this week – www.transformationgarden.com
And you’ll also find the devotionals at Crosswalk.com.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.