“6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”
10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
Many stories within the 4 Gospels reveal sacred moments leading to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. You may be familiar with the New Testament account of the ‘Anointing at Bethany’ shared here in Matthew 26, as well as the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John. This scene, during the last days of the life of Christ records the significant sacrifice of one woman who reminds us that only what we do for Christ will last, for nothing is wasted on him.
She was a woman who moved in reckless abandonment—leaving behind thoughts of who would judge her, what could happen to her or how lavish her gift seemed to others. This woman, whom Biblical commentators believe to be Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was certain that this Jesus was the Messiah she was anointing. Because she had already seen him perform miracles—setting captives free and raising even her very own brother from the dead—surely he was worthy of her affection and adoration. He was the One whom she appraised as priceless.
However, she was a woman who entered a room where she and this exorbitant sacrifice would stand out just a little too much. Although Mary’s act of kindness garnered Jesus’ attention, it also caused contempt from other on-lookers in the room. Interestingly, her act of sacrifice is chronologically placed a few verses before Judas’ act to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16). The paradox of one (Mary) who would offer such an exhorbitant expense—giving all to honor Jesus—stands in stark contrast to Judas, one who squandered all at Jesus’ expense yet received so little for the high price he paid. One gave all she could give and received life eternal. The other took all he could take and died prematurely.
Matthew shares in verse 8 that all the disciples were indignant, and Judas Iscariot as especially so. Therefore, they scorned her and said her act of anointing Jesus was a waste of the expensive oil. However, Jesus did not consider her act a waste. Rather, he recognized Mary’s actions as honorable and ‘a good work’, for he understood the intentions of her sincere heart—to anoint him for burial. During this Lenten season, we reflect on the sacrifices of a sincere heart towards Jesus which is displayed by a broken spirit and a contrite heart. The intent of Mary’s heart was to pour out in sacrifice to Jesus. She did not consider the expense of pouring the oil on him as wasted. Likewise, we understand that our sacrificial worship and devotion to God is never wasted, for we will always receive more from the Lord than we could ever give. Whether our time, talents or treasure—what we sow in abundant extravagance, we shall reap accordingly.
Father in the name of Jesus, we honor and adore you this day realizing that you are worthy of all praise. Just as you took notice of one woman when she broke open her alabaster flask of oil, we pour out our praise hoping to catch your attention. Lord, we thank you for loving us enough to see us and to reassure us that our worship is never wasted.
We pause in prayer and meditation today to lay all at your feet—offering everything and every breath in our bodies to you. May our worship be lifted, not as cause for contempt, but as a spark to ignite worship and praise in others for the great miracles you have done.
Call To Action
Let us celebrate his presence in our midst and refuse to miss any moments to lay at his feet and to worship him. You can never be too extravagant in your praise towards someone who has raised up dead situations in your life. Through prayer, meditation, psalms and thanksgiving… break open your box and let the oil flow—For it shall not be wasted.