Daily D – Mark 14:3-5
Mark 14:3-5 While he 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. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
A lot of interesting things happened on the way to the cross. A lot of hidden agendas were laid open for all to see. A lot of personal opinions were expressed.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how personal opinions often take on the force of law. Funny may not be the right word. Three little verses here mine the depths of indignation. One person gives an extravagant gift to Jesus, the kind of gift that cannot be recovered or reused. Due to the price and the potency of the gift, no one in the room remained unaware of what had just happened.
The host of the dinner party was no longer in charge of the room. The guest of honor gave his full attention to the one who gave her full attention to him.
Verses 1 and 2 tell us the setting. It includes the season and its holy days (verse 1). It also tells the unholy truth of the murderous intent of the religious leaders (verse 2). How can the holy and unholy reside in the same space at the same time?
Uninvited, a woman steps into the room and commands center stage without a word. Women were not supposed to enter a room full of men. Women should not waste a year’s wages worth of perfume in one moment. Breaking the jar made it held unretrievable. There would be no takebacks. Everyone would bear the beauty of the gift for days to come. Everyone in the room would be identifiable by the strength of the scent. Every memory would remind those gathered there of extravagance or waste.
Hearts were quickly laid bare. “And they rebuked her harshly,” (verse 5). They? All of them, apparently. All but Jesus (verses 6-9).
The Message paraphrase finishes verse 5 this way: “They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.”
Concern was expressed for the poor. Do you remember any of them ever expressing this concern before?
Judas, of course, was the most concerned. He was the most bothered. As CFO of the organization, he knew what he could do with a year’s wages. It’s funny, then, how he settled for only a month’s wages to betray Jesus. Funny may not be the word. And unlike the perfume which was unretrievable, Judas was able to make a final contribution to the poor.
Focus on the words in red for a moment (verses 6-9). Several truths stand out. Let’s ponder one. “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her,” (verse 9).
Everyone in the room where it happened was indignant (verse 4). They were harsh in their assessment of the event (verse 5). Jesus responded with extravagant love and unlimited grace. The woman’s gift is part of the gospel, the good news, Jesus not only spoke but lived as the sacrifice of all sacrifices.
Soon rich core blood would stain those clothes. Scents of combined extravagance would mingle and declare gifts too precious to calculate, gifts so necessary nothing was reserved.
This woman saw Jesus for who he was. She knew how this would end. How could she not give all she had in an act of lavish love?
Today is a good day to help the poor.
Every day is a good day to love Jesus extravagantly.
I will love Jesus extravagantly because he extravagantly loved me first.
Our Father, please forgive us for being so quick to rebuke and so slow to praise. Please forgive us for requiring others to live up to our standards rather than yours. Please forgive us for loving money too much and people too little. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.