The Alabaster Vial
In Him was life, and His life was the light of men.
When Jesus walked the earth, all the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—dwelt in him in bodily form. So too did the eternal life of the Godhead. In him was life, the eternal life of God Triune.
Whenever he spoke or performed miracles, the divine life within Jesus became the light of men. The glory of God shone forth in all he did, filling the darkness of this present evil world with light.
As we know from the Gospels, some were drawn to the light. They said, “Lord, to whom shall we go; you have the words of eternal life.”
Others, however, hated the light, sought to extinguish it, and, for a brief moment at the end of Jesus’ ministry, actually thought they did.
This is a great mystery, one that should cause us to fall down before God and marvel at his amazing ways.
In Christ there was life, and yet, because of our sin, that life could not get out of him and into us. Therefore, God decided to let the darkness extinguish the light—ever so briefly— so that the light and life of Christ, at long last, after ages and ages, might come again to dwell in man.
You remember that during Holy Week, just before Jesus’ passion, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, came to him. She brought an alabaster vial, full of costly oil of spikenard. Without a word, she broke the vial and poured the contents on Jesus’ head, anointing him for burial. John carefully notes that when she did, the fragrance of the perfume filled the whole house.
Beloveds, this is how it was with Jesus, and how it is with us. God the Father, on the Cross, broke the alabaster vial of his body, so that he, bearing our sins and receiving in his own person the just penalty due them, might make atonement for us.
But why did he make atonement for us? So that he could pour out the oil of the divine life—not just upon us—but into us. So that in us there might be life, and that our life might be the light of men.
John brings the prologue of his gospel to a close with this: “And the light shines in the darkness; the darkness did not overcome it.”
Why does the light still shine in the darkness, both now and till the end of the age?
It is because our Lord was willing to let the Father shatter the alabaster vial, so that the divine life within him—and all the light and fragrance it was meant to bestow upon a sin-darkened world—might be in, and pour through, his new body: us.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, thank you both for this inexpressibly great gift. May we always walk worthily of it, in your Spirit, bringing the life and light and fragrance of Christ to others wherever we go. Amen.