Dispatch: The Cup of Life
The Lenten Season is all about recognizing our need for God and drawing near to the God that ever draws near us. As we near the end of the Lenten Season and closely approach Passion Week, I have found that present throughout this most sacred season is the theme of pouring.
One of my favorite Bible stories is often told in and around this season. You can find the story in Luke 7:36-50. The story is essentially about how an outcast harlot improperly barges into a room full of those who are more powerful than her, more honorable than her, and far more “holy” than her, all to get to the feet of Jesus. Once at the feet of Jesus, she takes an incredibly expensive jar of perfume and while bawling, crying, with snot and tears, she begins to pour this super expensive perfume all over Jesus’ feet—wiping His feet with her hair. You see, that bottle of perfume was far more than just an expensive jar of perfume; for a woman of her occupation, it represented her livelihood, her job security, and her very identity. In spite of the audible offense taken by all of the “religious” in the room, Jesus and this woman share an incredible moment of intimacy where she has literally poured herself completely out at the feet of God. By this act of reckless abandon, Jesus restores this woman not just spiritually, but socially as well.
(Side Note: It always baffles me to think that it wasn’t the oil of the priest that anointed our Lord as Priest before Passion Week, but rather it was the perfume of a harlot.)
Paul identifies the next mark of “pouring” that we find during this season in Philippians 2:5-8. Paul writes,
In other words, adopt the mindset of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember: Though He was in the form of God, He chose not to cling to equality with God; But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new; a servant in form and a man indeed. The very likeness of humanity, He humbled Himself, obedient to death—a merciless death on the cross!
As demonstrated in the life of Christ, love is a lifestyle of being poured out for others. Jesus foreshadows this “poured-out” reality when, in the upper room, He offers His disciples bread and wine proclaiming, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” Throughout the life of Christ, we see Him constantly offering himself to others at the expense of himself. This of course leads to His eventual death on the cross.
As Christians and followers of Jesus, we find that in Jesus, as we pour ourselves out at his feet, he assuredly fills us with the covenant of his unyielding love offered to us ultimately by the offering of his own blood on our behalf. We also find that Jesus has called us to do the same for each other. Not only does Jesus constantly challenge His disciples and followers to be great lovers and supporters of each other, but he furthermore concludes the Passover meal prior to His crucifixion and the first communion with the command to, “Do this in Remembrance of Me.” Part of what it means to be Christian, and something that we are constantly reminded of during this season, is learning to live a life that is poured out for others.
Nonetheless, for each of us, how we respond to this season in the end might look very different depending on our circumstances. Do you need to emptied? Filled? Poured out? Perhaps you need to simply be poured out before God—meaning it’s time to get honest both with yourself and with God. Or maybe you need to be more intentional in setting aside 10-15 minutes where you can allow yourself to truly be poured into through the reading of Scripture, prayer, and hearty meditation. Or perhaps you have turned in on yourself a bit, and you are being challenged this season to rightfully remember Jesus Christ by being poured out for others as Christ was poured out for the world.
That said, as this Lenten season comes to a close and as we near the Easter event, be thinking about how you might practically participate in this ever-cyclical process of, like a cup, being emptied out before God, filled by God, and poured out for others.