Yesterday I said that God was not soft. He is strong and He is just…and there is an awe and a fear of Him that is right and is good and is healthy.
The righteousness of God not only exposes my lack, and my need, but draws me toward Him as I become aware of who He is. True justice, true righteousness. Truth.
However, if God was only just and righteous and strong…I wonder if He would be approachable. On my FaceBook feed there was a little discussion about how we need a God who is able to deal with our shame and our condemnation. We need Him not only to deal with it, but we need to be able to face Him and to draw near to Him.
So, the God of the Bible is not soft in the sense that He is wishy-washy or inept. He is, however compassionate and filled with grace. He is approachable.
God, in flesh, has made Himself approachable. On Easter we will celebrate the breaking of the barriers and the sacrifice paid so that we can approach God. So that we can enter His presence with boldness.
Today, in the progress through the Holy Week we recognize that moment of intimacy. That moment of approach. This actually happened the day before Jesus entered Jerusalem…just before the shouts of Hosanna. A quiet recognition before the more fickle and loud recognition.
Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8
God allowed Mary to express her friendship with him in a lavish display…but he did not mock her or belittle her or turn her away in her expression. He allowed her to approach Him. Jesus, incarnate….He is not soft and He is not inept….but He is not callous and He is not unapproachable.
The barriers are broken and we may enter His presence with boldness…with timidity…with affection…with friendship.
Again, Malcolm Guite, from his Sounding the Seasons
Come close with Mary, Martha , Lazarus
So close the candles stir with their soft breath
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement
In quietness and intimate encounter
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover,
The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee, and see beyond the cross.