1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only
two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure
nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.6
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has
done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with
you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Verse 5 ‘They rebuked her harshly’
Jesus appreciated the woman’s expensive gift of perfume. He declared to the crowd that
‘she has done a beautiful thing to me’. The woman was paying her last respects to Jesus.
The chief priests and scribes didn’t honour her noble deed. Her act of greatness provoked criticism. This is sometimes the case. There are haters in every generation.
At a point of severe testing, Job was accused of not speaking sensibly Job 18.2. But righteous Job was in his finest hour. The shepherd boy David was despised and belittled for challenging Goliath 1 Samuel 17.28. Yet David was on the threshold of a momentous victory. He went on to become Israel’s greatest earthly king.
The woman who anointed Jesus with perfume excelled the cutting comments of her critics to worship God in spirit and truth. We can follow her example. Learn to live with criticism and don’t be paralysed by negative or unjust critics. Ignore the haters and do something of value for God.
Verse 8 ‘She did what she could’
Involvement with Jesus starts with anything. A bottle of perfume Mark 14.3.
Five loaves of bread and two fish Mark 6.30-44.
A handkerchief or an apron Acts 19.12.
Christians, who use what they have for God will excel in the Lord’s service. It’s not how much we give, it’s how much God does with what we give that matters.
‘Early in my ministry’, I met a young man named Worral. He had been stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at age 15, and when I met him 30 years later, he was totally paralysed except for 1 finger. He could barely speak and was totally blind. But he had a string tied to that one mobile finger that could turn on a recorder. He wrote for national magazines, authored books and led a happy and influential life from his bed.
This was possible because after initial prayers brought no healing, he accepted his lot graciously and said, “Well lord! If this is the size plot in life you’ve staked out for me, let’s you and me together show the world what we can grow on it.”
Doctor Floyd Faust
What could you use to serve God? What skills do you have? Do what you can, with what you’ve have, right where you are, and you’ll do something special.
Verse 9 ‘What she has done will also be told in memory of her’.
Mary could have used the expensive perfume for her own cosmetic purposes. But the fragrance of the scent would quickly wear off. The bottle of perfume would eventually be consumed. But what the woman did for Jesus would last.
‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’, said poet John Keats.
The woman’s nice deed of honouring Jesus is preserved for every generation and beyond. And so it is we should live with the emphasis on eternity. Eternal things are more important than the things which pass away. We can grow in grace and bear fruit that lasts? John 15.16.
Remember God is eternal and anything that’s not eternal is out of date.