Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BROKEN (12/06/18)
TITLE: Saving the Best for Last
By Nancy Bucca
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A gentle breath, a whispered prayer...
Her fingers tremble as she cradles the object in her hand and tiptoes softly forward. “The time has come, Lord. Strengthen now my hands.”
A hush grips the crowded room. All eyes fixate on her.
Like Esther, she has entered uninvited. Her weak knees shake, but not from fasting. Yet she can barely stand.
Hungry children beg for bread, but this gift can't fill their stomachs and she knows they judge her for it.
As she steps onto the floor her sister has swept clean, she can almost hear the broom scraping against the boards. In her mind it brushes against her legs, urging her to leave while she still can.
Past visions mingle with future events, a kaleidoscope of crushed gems. Torches illuminate a sea of angry faces. Rash hands lay hold of weapons: knives, spears, and clubs. Unsheathed sword meets fragile skin. A man screams. Then, silence.
The wood creaks and a splinter pricks her heel. Her heart skips a beat. She doesn’t want to cause a scene.
“Take a deep breath. Don’t fall apart,” she tells herself.
The restless prodigal who once tossed pearls before swine grasps for grapes but finds only thorns. He twists the withered branches and weaves them in a circular motion, around . . . and around . . . and around. It’s like a never-ending cycle.
She feels the shame and bows her head. Then she looks up and sees him reclining at the banquet table, his face filled with compassion. His eyes shine with forgiveness.
Mary walks straight up to him, kneels down, and breaks open the jar. She pours the precious spikenard all over his feet and wipes them with her hair.
An axe falls, turning trees to logs and stripping off layers of bark. Lumps of bare wood lie exposed. Flames rage. Rugged arms raise a hammer and prepare to strike. A cold wind blows, shattering the silence.
Thud. Crack. Crunch.
“What a waste.”
Judas’s sharp words cut deeply into her. “She should have sold it to help the poor,” he criticizes. As keeper of the purse, he has an eye for a “steal” and knows how much this ointment costs.
Guilt pounds her head as the fragrance fills the room. Tears flow as she struggles to make sense of all the murmurs.
“A waste of money, waste of labor, waste of time. . .”
They just don’t get it, do they? Don’t they know what lies ahead? Their teacher, the great healer, shall soon be greatly wounded. After curing social outcasts, he too will be cast out. He who opened deaf ears will hear curses in his own ears. He who opened blind eyes shall soon be blindfolded. Men will strike him, beat him, pluck his beard out, and lash him with a whip. The one who raised her own brother from the dead will be executed. He, the innocent, will pay the price for all their sins.
She knows his body will be broken. That’s why she broke the jar - to prepare him for burial. The oil’s cost does not compare to his great worth.
Darkness falls. The earth shakes. The temple veil is torn in two. Jesus dies and three days later he is resurrected.
But who has believed this amazing report?
The stiff-necked turn away, and those with hardened minds refuse to hear. But the brokenhearted receive it, for he came to make them whole.
“Take and eat. This is my body. Come, drink. This is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11:23-26)
Of all the miracles Jesus did, none can compare to this great sacrifice. Like the woman who anointed him, he has saved the best for last.
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