Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
Let’s again keep these questions before our hearts as we ponder this Scripture:IS THERE A SIN TO CONFESS? IS THERE A PROMISE TO CLAIM? IS THERE AN ATTITUDE TO CHANGE? IS THERE A COMMAND TO OBEY? IS THERE AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW? IS THERE A PRAYER TO PRAY? IS THERE AN ERROR TO AVOID? IS THERE A TRUTH TO BELIEVE? IS THERE SOMETHING TO PRAISE GOD FOR?
Every time I read this story my heart is stirred. Imagine this situation. Imagine being there. You are in the home of a man who has had leprosy, someone who you would think would understand what God has done for him. Someone you would assume would be so grateful that nothing would stop him from unwavering devotion. Yet, he misses it. So do the others.
In a room filled with followers they do not value the gift that is in their midst. What could that look like in this generation? What could this look like in my life?
See this woman came and was offering something of immense value. It wasn’t just any perfume. It was an expensive jar. It was worth the value of a years wages. Connected to that jar was her past, present, and future. She and worked for it, she was bringing it, she was pouring out what could be for tomorrow.
The response of the others in the room was, Why this waste?” They knew it was valuable, but did they think it was more valuable than the one who was preparing to lay his life down for them? Maybe they didn’t think about it that far, but he had been warning them of what was going to unfold. They just weren’t willing to listen. Am I any different? Am I willing to hear what he is speaking to me or do I have issue with what he is speaking, so I close my heart off from hearing?
Why this waste? This simple question is so convicting to me. What others see as waste, was actually her act of honour and devotion. This story is told in several places in the gospels and in another place it is told, it refers to her pouring it out on his feet. The oil would have been poured on both the head and feet. The head representing the cost of honour. The feet representing the cost of devotion.
She did not slowly release the oil, but broke the jar, releasing the fragrance immediately. This perfume would be strong and the fragrance would have filled the entire house. So, the cost of honour and devotion releases an overwhelming fragrance. It fills the place. Everyone around is impacted by it. Either by joining in and doing the same or by criticizing the waste.
She never forgot what he has delivered her from. Simon may have been influenced by those around him, but she remembered her deliverance and would offer him nothing less than something that would cost her greatly.
She would be judged for it by man, but God would make her name remembered throughout the ages because her ” costly waste” was one of honour and devotion.
I must confess, I often forget how great a deliverance he has brought about in my life. It is so easy to focus on the now and forget where we have come from. He has changed my life. I want to offer him nothing less than honour and devotion that cost me something. David says in the Old Testament, “I will not offer to God that which cost me nothing.” How many times have I offered him offerings that really held no cost for me?
This woman is a great example. She reminds Freda that wasting your life on Him, may bring the disapproval of others, but it will bring the favour of God. It will be something that God takes notice of and will be remembered. Who do I want to be remembered by? Those who don’t recognize his worth or the one who has forever changed who I am? I want my devotion to be demonstrated by being willing to be spent for him.
The truth for me is, everyone wastes their life on something. The question is, what is worth the waste? Are the present comforts worth the waste? Or is the wasted life lived in honour and devotion really the life I will be carrying into the next.
I value deeply the woman with the alabaster. I want to be found in the same position she is in, valuing the Giver of Life, and seeing a Kingdom larger than this present moment. I want to be found at his feet, pouring my life and all that I am to Him. I want to avoid the error that says, “you are taking this too seriously, you are too intense, he doesn’t expect this much of you.” I want to run from those voice and run right into His arms. Sitting at his feet and laying upon him honour and devotion is a safe place to be.
I have learned from this woman that Jesus speaks up for the life that will honour him.