Broken Vessels

Here is an excerpt from chapter 9 of my book, Restoring the Ministry of Jesus, that inroduces the concept of brokenness:

If we are going to walk like Jesus walked and do what Jesus did, we will have to seek His face and grow in intimacy with Him. Jesus said that unless we abide in Him we will not produce any lasting fruit for the kingdom. Like a branch is dependent upon its connection to the vine, so are we dependent on our connection to Christ (See John 15:4-5).

There is another quality that will help us to truly walk in the ministry of Jesus, and that is brokenness.

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.

Mark 14:3

Based on John’s version of this story (found in John 12:1-8) the woman who poured this costly oil onto Jesus was Mary, the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. This is the same Mary that we saw in the previous chapter, who sat at the Lord’s feet while her sister Martha was distracted with serving (See Luke 10:38-42). Though the others criticized her for her lavish display of affection towards Jesus, Mary was keenly aware of something that the others were missing: the worth of Jesus. She knew that He was worth it. It was worth it for her to “waste” a year’s wages in pouring this costly oil onto Jesus. It was worth it for her to sit at the Lord’s feet, giving Him her undivided time and attention.  It was worth it because He is worthy.

There was nothing too special about the flask itself, except that it carried such expensive and precious oil inside of it. Before the oil could be poured upon Jesus and the sweet fragrance fill the room, the flask had to be broken. Christians are much the same way. We “have this treasure in earthen vessels” (See 2 Corinthians 4:7). In and of ourselves we are weak and fragile, but we carry in us the treasure of heaven.  Christ lives in us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But just like Mary’s flask, until we are broken the treasure remains inside of us and the fragrance of Christ does not fill the world around us.

Christ desires to live through us by the power of the Spirit.  I think we take statements like this too lightly. Consider these verses of Scripture: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, Emphasis added). “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, emphasis added). It is an incredibly profound concept that God would live inside of man, and I think that we have heard these things so often that it has lost its wonder.

If God lives in me (and every other Christian), then shouldn’t things look a little different in our lives, and in the life of the church? Shouldn’t there be more love? Shouldn’t there be more holiness? Shouldn’t there be more power? Think about it; God Himself lives inside of us! The answer to these questions is yes. I believe that we have only scratched the surface to the potential of the Christian life modeled to us by Jesus.     

One reason that there is not more of Christ’s love and power flowing through our lives is that we often remain unbroken vessels. The fragrant oil is in the jar, but the jar is unbroken.


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