Mark 14:3-9

Day 19


Mark 14:3-9

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:


 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.



  1. Reply
    Susan Craig says:

    The Lord brought this to mind when I read Freda’s comments. It is a Christian song that I used to sing when I was young but has so much more meaning for me today. I don’t remember it all and I can’t remember who wrote or sang it,but I will share what I do remember because it is pertinent to this study.

    “Throw back the curtain of memory now and then
    Show me where you got me from
    And where I could have been
    Remember I’m human,and humans forget
    So remind me,remind me dear Lord.”

    Thank you for that reminder today!!!!!

  2. Reply
    Sue says:

    This has always been one of my favourite stories from the life of Jesus. The image of the woman bent over Jesus, pouring out the oil is one that I’ve pictured as the image of ideal Christian. It depicts sacrifice, humility, commitment and honour.
    But this morning as I pondered the passage the enemy kept trying to enter the picture by reminding me of my past … past mistakes, past failures, past circumstances. I tried the usual efforts of reminding the enemy that this garbage from the past had already been taken care of at the cross but I was still left with a feeling of uneasiness. Maybe I should have just ignored him. ☺
    And then, rereading the scripture, someone other than the woman stood out to me … Simon. Every version & translation I looked at referred to Simon as ‘Simon the Leper’ or ‘Simon who once had leprosy’ … never just ‘Simon’. Simon was obviously someone who had an interest in Jesus. It was a friendly interest since he had invited Jesus to lunch. Scripture tells us that Simon “once had leprosy” (CEV). Was he one of the lepers that Jesus had healed? Was he the one we read about on day 8 who came to Jesus begging on his knees and went away rejoicing? Or was he one of the ten … maybe the one who returned with gratitude?
    What stood out to me was that Simon’s association with leprosy never really left him. Simon was a common name at that time and it isn’t surprising that there would be a ‘qualifier’ after his name. But he was always known (and is to this day) as Simon the leper. His past followed him long after what he was known for was gone. He wasn’t referred to as ‘Simon’ the friend of Jesus’, ‘Simon the follower’ or simply ‘Simon, the man who invited Jesus to dinner’.
    To me this is a picture of how the enemy will try to always associate our past with our present. Even though Simon associated himself with Jesus by opening his home to Him, he is still recorded as ‘the leper’. But Simon didn’t allow that moniker from his past stop him from ministering to Jesus … to a point.
    Although some criticized the outpouring of the expensive oil, we aren’t told that Simon joined in the criticizing. Being the host, he was probably feeling a bit uncomfortable at that point. He may have even been disappointed in the attitude of some of his guests. But he didn’t speak up on behalf of the one who anointed Jesus. He didn’t act.

    The lady with the alabaster jar, on the other hand, is known for her action … the anointing of Jesus’ head. She is known for her sacrifice. She is known for her extravagance. She is known for her humility. AND she is known for Jesus coming to her defense.
    Jesus described her action as “a beautiful thing” (NIV, AMP). He also cemented her place in His final act as the saviour of Mankind, “she came beforehand to anoint My body for the burial”.
    The most meaningful part of Jesus’ description for me is “She has done what she could”.
    This indicates that He doesn’t expect all of us to do tremendous things in the world’s eyes. But He does expect us to do what we can … in whatever form that might take.
    He expects for us to act.
    My sin to confess would be all times I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken on His behalf or on behalf of someone else. My attitude to change is that it isn’t the thought that counts. The command is to do what I can … which is whatever He asks of me. “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1) Two examples to follow here are 1) the extravagant humility of the lady in this story and 2) the extravagant humility of Christ pouring out His life for me. My prayer … “open my spiritual eyes so I might see You.” An error to avoid … judging too quickly and giving too little. A truth to believe … He is worth everything. And always there is His grace and mercy to praise God for.

  3. Reply
    Jim Holmes says:

    What stood out in this study for me was Jesus saying “Let her alone…” Now, follow my line of thinking to see why…

    Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper. Jesus was sitting at the table, about to have, or having something to eat. At that time a woman came to Him having precious ointment which she poured on the head of Jesus. This box of ointment was never used, the box never had been broken and was very expensive.

    As we have seen before in scripture, God looks on the heart of man. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” There were some in the house, when they saw what had happened, did not agree with what had happened. They had indignation…or thought this unfair, and disgusting. They immediately brought up the subject, establishing what was in their heart…1) that it was a waste (which could indicate belittling the woman, that she doesn’t know better) and 2) a money issue indicating that they could take the money themselves for a better use. 3) possibly this woman was taking the attention of Jesus away from them, and so they murmured against the woman. Jesus understood their thoughts. He told them that what she did was a good work, not to trouble her(Let her alone), for they would not always have Him, but that they would always have the poor. I think that this answer would have raised more indignation….an indignation that would be transferred to Jesus, away from the woman…because 1)He accepted what she did… that is Jesus said that she came to anoint His body for burying and 2) that she would always be remembered for what she did throughout the whole world.

    Consider how Jesus takes our weakness, our troubles, our indignation…upon Himself. I really think that spoken Truth (the Person of Jesus) is accepted or rejected. Rejection shuts down what truly is being said. I could imagine that no one grasped what Jesus was talking about when He mentioned burying (He was young and healthy), nor how or why what the woman did would be remembered by the whole world. Jesus came to die for us. He lived, …taking upon Himself, our sickness, our disease, our heartaches. He was beaten, bruised, suffered death…and it was all for us. Jesus “identified” with the woman…not with those that were upset with her.

    E – An example to follow: Not to make judgements about what we hear and see, but to hear what our Father is saying and to do what He is doing.
    P – pray that our hearts would hear Truth…it will set us free.

  4. Reply
    Jim Holmes says:

    I would like to add just one more additional thought. Above I said Jesus “identified with the woman.” It is noteworthy to also say, that “the woman identified with Jesus.” This takes us to the picture of “the Cross”. The woman identified with Jesus death and burial by anointing Jesus..…she was considered with indignation by others. Now Jesus was truly going to die…and about to go through a horror of indignation for her….for she was accepted by Him for what she did.

  5. Reply
    Susan Craig says:

    I have been thinking about how Jesus responds to conflict-it has reared it’s face in a few of the readings these past few weeks and I am amazed at how direct he is when an issue comes up that indicates conflicting points of view. This one today in particular has him speaking up for the woman who gave freely all she had, only to be judged and criticized harshly for doing it by some of the people in the room. When there is more than 1 person involved,there are always bound to be differing opinions and everyone has their own point of view. When points of view vary,there are bound to be clashes. How Jesus handles himself in this situation is noteworthy.
    First he comes to the woman’s defence and tells her accusers to back off. Several people scolding her harshly would be an unfair attack by many against one. He then explained what her motive was-He looked into her heart and knew why she did what she did. Her motive was pure in this-He knew it but the other people in the room did not. He also knew their hearts and motives and He stated very plainly that they were wrong to be critical of her.
    He then went on to deal with their motive. They considered what she had done to be a waste and of little value-the more valuable option in their eyes was to sell the oil and feed the poor. Two opposing views with money involved makes a perfect storm for controversy. Many churches have been split apart by differing opinions as to where the money should go-what programs to fund and where the focus of the church should be when it comes to financial matters.
    It is amazing how we as humans like to think we know what is best for other people!!! These people did not buy or pay for the oil so it really was none of their business if the woman chose to use her oil in this way. But not only did they criticize her for how she used the oil, they basically told her that she was unwise with what she did and should have sold the perfume and donate the money for the poor. Isn’t that amazing that they would know more than she did as to how she should spend her own money.??? Also Jesus was able to see in their hearts and knew that feeding the poor,although it sounded good, it revealed a huge flaw in these people’s hearts.
    Was Jesus statement about the poor always being with them true?? I think it was-because from as far back as civilizations go,there have been rich people and dirt poor people. I would think that the women’s accusers had alot more money than she would ever have. Yet Jesus did not embarass them with an obvious snswer here-He could have asked them how much they give to the poor out of their wealth but he didn’t do that. Instead he focused on the woman again letting her(and everyone else in the room) know how much her gift had meaning to HIm and how grateful He was for what she had done. She must have been listening to him talk and heard what he had been saying to the deciples-and this act of worship meant alot to Jesus because this woman understood why Jesus was here and what he was going to do and He rewarded her knd deed with one of his own-notoriety for what she did. She would ge rewarded openly-Jesus put Hhis stamp of approval on what she did. How grateful she must have been-He got it-He understood her grief. This act connected her to Jesus forever. What I learn from this is
    1) No two people think alike on everything but they can think alike on some things
    2)Just because you do something for the right reasons does not mean it is God’s will that it be done
    3)Speak up for those who do things right-do not be critical
    4)Give your all-nothing less will do
    5)Jesus knows our reasons for our behavior more than we(or anyone else for that matter) do
    6) Do what you know is right even if it goes against the crowd
    7) Do what pleases Jesus-not people.
    8)Doing the right thing has its own rewards.

  6. Reply
    Pat McRae says:

    This was a hard one for me to sort out :(. But as I lay awake this morning I thought I heard God say, ” It’s not so hard.”
    He took me to the rich young man, and started to allow me to compare the two accounts.
    The rich young man came loving the Lord and wanting to follow Jesus. Was his love a heart or head love only God knows, but when the rubber hit the road his tires spun out of control. He walked away sad, unable to give what he was asked for.
    This young woman in today account also came loving the Lord and carrying her most valuable gift. She didn’t come asking anything from Jesus or committing anything to Him. She came only wanting to bless Him. She didn’t ask what she should do, never asked permission just poured out her love by pouring fragrant oil on His head.
    When the young man walked away sad because he found he loved his lifestyle more no one seemed to question his action only Jesus’ request.
    But while this young woman was still at Jesus’ feet having anointed Him people were criticizing her actions declaring it such a waste.
    As I compared these two people who loved the Lord I realized even I can fool myself.
    The young man really didn’t see where he needed a saviour. He declared he had kept all the laws. If this were true Jesus didn’t need to die, but the truth was Jesus knew many of us would believe we live good lives and deserve a home in His presence for eternity. We want in by works and not relationship. I won’t point my finger because there have been times I have felt I deserved better in life because I had done good in my eyes forgetting only God is able to do good my efforts add up to filthy rags.
    But this young woman knew she really had nothing to offer and that she could never expect to live in His presence for all eternity. She saw her life as it really was, sometimes when her actions produced a favourable outcome and sometimes when she hoped no one would know about them. Jesus declared her action as good, worthy to be declared as good because He saw what no man could see. He saw a heart that loved Him and would hold nothing back from Him.
    So this was the stumbling block for me: what could I give Him of worth?
    I can give Him a heart that longs to have a closer relationship with Him. A heart that reaches out no matter what others say to touch a world so lacking in true expressions of love. I have nothing of worth to give, but God says I am worth more to Him then anything I can carry in my hands or do. So today I give me and I pray it will be all of me holding nothing back!

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