This flower this day, it stopped me in my tracks.
I hit the breaks in my car just to pull over and draw closer. This bright flower, it was growing right there in the hardened road, its roots tucked deep beneath the unforgiving pitch, its frail leaves stretching bravely above, its golden petals curling courageously, extravagantly, unabashed reaching toward the sun.
Courage calling to my heart…
It reminded me of her. This girl. Nameless in most Gospels but identified twice as Mary in the Gospel of John (John 11:2, and 12-1-8).
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard…” John 12:1-3
This story of Mary’s devotion is framed by a darkness closing in, as the Chief Priests and Pharisees plot Jesus death…
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” Matthew 26:3-5
“So from that day on they plotted to take his life…” John 11:53
While they plotted to kill Him, Jesus, He planned to die. And He tried to share this journey with His closest friends, His disciples, as He had done many times…
“Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2
…but they didn’t seem to understand. His plans were not their plans, His ways, not theirs. His disciples, His closest friends, they were never fully with Him.The path they were on was everything they hoped for. Everything they expected. Better. It just wasn’t His path.
Jesus knew it.
And somehow, somewhere deep within her, Mary seemed to know it too.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3
There she was, vulnerable. Courageous. Frailty facing down darkness, beauty and devotion standing almost alone amidst a rising squall of blindness, selfish ambition and corruption. This one brave heart. The one who wasn’t wondering what others might think. She had thrown all caution (and cultural propriety) to the wind and thrown herself at Jesus feet.
She crossed a line, was out of line, forgot her lines. She was totally off script.
So the concrete closes in around her condescending, condemning. While she, unashamed, stretches out towards the Son. Wholehearted. Vulnerable.