Friday, February 1, 2013

The Courage of Loyalty

Mark 14:8 (KJV)  She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

"Courage is fear that has said its prayers." ~ Dorothy Bernard

In Pastor Leitner’s guest post, he talked about loyalty as a choice.  But it’s more than that.  Loyalty takes us to our limits and beyond.  And loyalty can be a moment of courage….

Mark 14 is only one of four passages that speaks of a supper where a woman comes in and anoints Jesus.  Different sources are at variance as to whether the four passages are all speaking of the same meal or if there is more than one instance of the same situation.  Simon is referred to as a leper in several, as a Pharisee in another.  You can judge for yourself which viewpoint is correct.  That’s for another discussion.  We want to focus on the woman with the alabaster box or vase.

When I was reading Allan Leitner’s post, the beginning of Mark 14:8 kept coming to mind.  Maybe it came to mind because of Ruth.  Ruth had no reason to leave the land she grew up in.  Yet her loyalty had her committing to Naomi and a journey to Israel.  And that same loyalty caused her to commit to Naomi’s God.  What did Ruth bring to the commitment?  Basically, herself.  And her loyalty.  “She hath done what she could”. 

Ruth’s loyalty was also a display of courage.  It was clear she knew little beyond the borders of her own country by experience.  There was probably some excitement about experiencing new things.  But there also had to be some fear of the unknown.  Yet she committed to a person (Naomi), a country (Israel) and the journey to it, and to God.  I can picture Ruth speaking words of faith, some of them in prayer to her new God.  And, by doing that, driving out fear and ushering in courage.

Then there’s the woman with the alabaster box.  A real alabaster container with the best ointment was very expensive.  Sources indicate that any container of ointment eventually came to be referred to as the alabaster box.  And it was likely that the woman in Mark 14 had a less expensive container with a lesser quality scented oil.  At her economic level, that was still expensive for her.  Indeed, “she hath done what she could”.

If all four passages referred to the same meal and anointing, this woman, as a known sinner, had great courage in entering a Pharisee’s home uninvited.  In such settings as this meal, women were not allowed within six feet of the men, except to serve them.  Yet she positioned herself right by Jesus’ feet.  She was loyal enough to the Lord to take those chances.

In the various passages, the woman was said to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, then dry them with her hair, then His head and feet were anointed .  All things that should not have been allowed for a woman of her station.  The fact that she did, again, showed courage.  A courage that may have driven out fear with silent prayers.  And a courage that came from loyalty and unity, reminding us of Psalm 133.

Psalm 133:1-3 (KJV)  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

There’s one more thing we need to see.  Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi was based in her love for Naomi.  The woman with the alabaster box was that loyal to Jesus because she had gained a spiritual, supernatural love for Him.  Which brings us to some interesting conclusions.
  1. Loyalty doesn’t require super human efforts, it just calls for us to do what we can.
  2. Loyalty displays courage.  It takes us beyond our normal circumstances.
  3. Loyalty is based in agape love because that is what engenders the unity of Psalm 133.  The human, phileo love doesn’t have the capacity to take us beyond ourselves.
What gets you to do what you can?  And what takes you beyond yourself and your circumstances?


  1. Christ's unconditional love for me always motivates my circumstances, my mood, and my actions. Thank God He loved me FIRST... and that in itself took courage! ;0)

    I enjoyed this post, Bill. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. =0)

  2. Glad it blessed you. There's more to come.