My scripture reading for today was Hebrews 11... the great Biblical Hall of Fame of Faith. And this past weekend, I heard a fantastic message on faith.
The message began with a discussion of spikenard, and the account of Mary lavishing Yeshua with the fragrant and expensive substance. This anointing can be found in Mark and John 12.
So what is spikenard? Spikenard is the head of a fragrant east Indian plant which yields a thick, oily juice called nardos. Historically, the ancients used it as a precious ointment - a healing juice used for many ailments, such as skin infections, constipation, insomnia, stress, anxiety, fevers, and so on. Nardos would aid in cell regeneration, blood circulation, and was also used as a perfume and deodorant. A cure-all substance, so to speak.
The Song of Solomon refers to "Nard" three times, and each time the context suggests something precious and wonderful.
Mary of Bethany possessed something expensive, precious, and wonderful - an alabaster flask of this very costly oil. Scripture records the value of her possession... 300 denarii - a year's wages. If she had fallen on hard times, this oil could have been sold to provide for her. This oil could very likely have been her dowry for marriage.
Mary of Bethany was willing to give up this precious possession for something much more precious... Yeshua. A transfer took place when she poured it all out. She took something that she had placed her trust in, and gave it all up for Yeshua, thereby putting all her trust in HIM!
Trading in temporary healing juice for a Permanant Healer.
The Greek word pistis is a noun that means faith. The Greek word pisteuo is a verb that is translated believe... an action word.
It is interesting to note that the Greek word for spikenard in the gospels is pistikos nardos, or in other words, the object of one's faith.
Faith truly is an action word. It is not simply a way of thinking; it is a way of living. Look at this passage from James 2: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
It is said that Martin Luther wanted to remove the book of James from the scriptures. He struggled with the idea that faith had to be accompanied by any kind of works. Today, it is often still preached that all you need to do is simply believe, and that's it. You're in, and you don't have to do anything further about it.
Following Yeshua means living out our faith through obedience to Him. He asks us to be holy, set apart for Him. Each of us is unique, and each of us has a calling within the Body of Messiah.