Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Priceless Devotion

 Thursday, May 6, 2021

Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus' head. Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, "What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!" And they criticized her harshly. But Jesus said, "Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me. She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial.  Mark 14:3-8

Mark Chapter 14 opens with the chief priests and scribes on a manhunt for Jesus. They were trying to find Him so they could arrest Him and kill Him. They agreed to wait because it was the week of Passover and there were crowds of people in in town for the Passover Festival and Feast of the Unleavened Bread. They were afraid the people would riot at the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. 

Jesus was at Simon the Leper's house eating when a woman came in with a jar full of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. This bottle of perfume cost a lot of money - as much as a year's wages - and it was worth a lot to her. But she knew Jesus would not be on earth much longer and she wanted to give this offering to Him.


This woman's act of devotion will be the last expression of tenderness that Jesus receives before Judas sneaks away to betray him.  How precious that anointing in Bethany must have been to him.  He could see how the woman loved him, He could see that she recognized him as Messiah, and He could see that she knew that He was going to die.  She was anointing the body that would not otherwise be anointed before burial.  The text says that the woman broke open the jar which shows that she was generous in lavishing the jar's entire contents on Jesus.  But it also speaks of the occasional practice of anointing a corpse and then breaking the oil flask and placing it in the coffin. 

Unlike the other disciples, this unnamed woman understood the way of the cross.  Unlike the other two disciples who are key characters in Mark's story of the Passion - Judas, who betrayed Jesus, and Peter, who denied him - this unnamed woman understood the Gospel.  She knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that "for the sake of the joy that was set before himHebrews 12:2 - the joy of redeeming humanity and all creation, the joy of reuniting you and me with our loving Creator - He had to endure the cross.  This unnamed woman represents all of us who have felt blessed and strengthened by Jesus' presence and who long to offer back some expression of blessing in return.

Jesus rallied the value of this sacrifice but some of the other guests did not. They criticized her saying that she wasted the perfume and could have used the money for the poor instead. Jesus told them to leave her alone. He told them that the poor would always be there with them but He would not. He knew that she had given all she had. She was not shamed by their criticism and Jesus knew that out of her devotion to Him she had given her very best to Him.

Mary invested in Jesus because she knew He was her Messiah and He deserved her very best. What a great example for us to follow, not with expensive perfume, but with our life. Jesus is our Messiah and He deserves the best we have to offer, regardless of what others think. He did suffer excruciatingly for you and me but He did it because He loves us so much.  It is good to remember now and then exactly what price was paid for our salvation.  This woman paid an extraordinary piece of respect to Christ as she thought nothing too good to bestow upon Him to do Him honor. Christ must be honored with all we have, and we must not think to keep back any part of the price. Do we give him the precious oil of our best affections?  Let Him have them all; love Him with all your heart.

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