“While Jesus 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.” (Mark 14:3 NIV)
Every woman loves to receive perfume. We don’t wear it all the time, just dab on a little for special occasions. This perfume was worth a year’s wages and the woman tipped it all over Jesus, on purpose! It seems like a strange thing to do. “What a waste!” we think.
Perhaps Jesus didn’t smell so sweet! It was a hot country, but bathing and cleanliness were still important. Both men and women wore perfumed oils. Suppose Jesus had been allergic to it! Some are allergic to the essential oils we use today.
It doesn’t appear to have been an accident. Was the woman saving the perfume for a rainy day and just decided this was the day? Should she have saved the perfume to barter with at a future date? Did she realise that if it were sold, the money raised could have been used to do all kinds of good things?
Was it a rash action on her part? How many of us have said it seemed a good idea at the time … We might understand this woman’s seemingly bizarre act if we consider some of the things we spend our money on today. Some of us will admit that we bought a year’s membership to a gym, but only went a few times. Or we invested in a timeshare proposition then tried to get out of it.
There are also those who leave everything behind to follow Jesus, or are led by the Holy Spirit to give away their car or house. Everything comes to us from God, and he blesses extreme generosity. For instance, he commanded the Israelites to cancel all loans and let their slaves go free every seven years (SeeDeuteronomy 15).
I don’t think the woman regretted her action. To her, it was a logical thing to do as well as emotional. She wanted to show her love for Jesus by giving him something. She gave the best she had. She may have been Mary, a sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus resurrected from the dead. In that case, nothing was too good for him.
This was an act of worship and Jesus seems to consider her act to be perfectly appropriate. We are born to worship, and what we worship says a lot about the kind of person we are. If we worship the wrong things, our lives remain empty because we were designed to worship God alone. When we worship our Creator – who gave his Son Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross for us – we begin to have new priorities. We find ourselves spending our time, our life, on Jesus. We want to give him whatever he has given us: resources, talents, money, time.
Our behaviour may appear strange and extravagant to others, but it’s not wasteful. It’s an investment. When we put God first, we find that we pour out our love and life for him in all kinds of beautiful and unusual ways, and he always blesses us in return.
Prayer: Father in Heaven, We confess that sometimes we worship the wrong things. Help us to pour out our life on you, as you did for us. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.