March 27, 2015 | By Christine Mathew
It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
The story of the woman who poured costly perfume as an offering of worship on Jesus’ head is spoken of wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world. What is it about this act that encapsulates the gospel? Could it be that her reaction is the only appropriate way to respond to the message of God in the flesh come to save us? Jesus is saying that this un-named women understood what the prominent men sitting around the table did not understand about Jesus. He is the one they had been waiting for! The promised Messiah was there with them. If only for a short time, God had entered human history in person. He was being anointed for the act that would change the trajectory of the human race. Jesus’s impending sacrifice was/is the most amazing thing that has ever happened.
This story and Jesus’s praise for this woman, shows us how God expects to be treated in our lives. He is worthy of our most valuable possessions and most lavish displays of affection. So often we think God wants us to just do the right things, but he wants our love. He wants to be valued above all else in our lives.
When I read this passage, I think about how I value the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. How have I honored his sacrifice this day? Am I putting anything else above loving him fully? He has redeemed us with his death and we owe him our lives. Let us be as moved as this women was after her encounter with Jesus. Let us show him our love in sweet moments of fellowship with him and great deeds of sacrifice for his name’s sake.
O Christ, by remaining faithful till death, you show us the road to greater love. O Christ, by taking the burden of sin upon yourself, you reveal to us the way of generosity. O Christ, by praying for those who crucified you, you lead us to forgive without counting the cost. O Christ, by opening paradise to the repentant thief, you awaken hope in us. O Christ, come and help our weak faith. O Christ, create a pure heart in us; renew and strengthen our spirit. O Christ, your Word is near; may it live within us and protect us always. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
This is part of a series of Lent related blog posts written by various members of The Crossroad body and inspired by the free devotional guide Journey To The Cross. Closing Prayer added from The Worship Sourcebook.