Precious Ointment Poured Forth
Now we turn for the fourth thing to Matthew 26:6-13. It is the same village, and now the woman with her "alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment". The incident speaks to us in the first instance of the recognition of the worth of the Lord Jesus. All who looked on, as good as said: "He is not worth it"; that is what it amounted to. "He is not worth it." Of course they would not have put it like that. She recognized His worth - that He was worth the "exceeding preciousness." It was the exceeding preciousness of Christ that was in view here, as something recognized. That, I think, is the main feature. It is a feature of Bethany, it is a feature of the upper room, it is a feature of "My church," it is a feature of the Lord's assembly, it is a feature of the people who are after His own heart: the recognition of His exceeding preciousness, His exceeding worth; that there is nothing too costly to lay at His feet. "Unto you therefore which believe He is precious (is the preciousness)" (1 Peter 2:7).
Now, that is very simple, and yet again it is a thing that draws forth the deep appreciation of the Lord Jesus. It is again a thing which gives feature to a very much beloved village. In other words it is a thing which makes His assembly of great value to Him, that there His worth is recognized, and He is appreciated and appraised at His true value. That must mark the house of the Lord. It is a feature that must be developed more and more. It is a thing to which we must attend, that we have a ready and an ever-growing recognition of the preciousness and worth of the Lord Jesus. Oh, how different this is from the merely formal church system! We can hardly say that the outstanding feature of that is a true heart-appreciation of the worth and of the value of the Lord Jesus. Where that appreciation is, you have the assembly; where it is not, whatever else you may have of ornate and elaborate presentation, you have not got the assembly, it is not the place of his delight.
I think I seem something else here. The brokenness of the cruse brings out into expression the preciousness of the ointment. It is the "vessel of fragile clay" which, being broken, makes possible the manifestation and expression of the glories of Christ. While that cruse is whole, strong, and sound in itself, something which you would look at and take account of in itself; something that would cause you to say: "That is a beautiful vase, that is a wonderful piece of alabaster"; - you are not getting at the secret. We may take account of men, as splendid intellects, splendid men, wonderful preachers and so on - be occupied with the vase, the cruse - and the other be sealed, be hidden; but when the cruse is broken, shattered, then you get at the tabernacle secret of the glory of Christ.
You see it in Paul. I suppose Saul of Tarsus was a wonderful bit of alabaster intellectually, morally, religiously. He tells us that he was; he tells us all that he was, all that he gloried in and that men looked at and no doubt praised; but he was smashed, and it is no longer Saul, and it is no longer Paul, but it is the beauty and glory of Christ. The fragrance of Christ comes out when the cruse is broken.
(continued with # 8)