Thursday, 15 March 2012


A woman came to see Jesus while he was having dinner at Simon’s house. She entered the room full of distinguished guests and let down her hair. Her and her tears fell at his feet. In her hands she held a jar. Breaking the alabaster she poured out the perfume – some say on his head, others say his feet.

Her offering of worship was both beautiful and authentic. She held nothing back – not her possessions nor her pride.
John says she was Martha’s sister, Mary. Luke says she was a sinner from the city; an immoral woman. Matthew and Mark don’t name names. They all say that there were people presiding at the table who became indignant; some called her unclean, others accused her of being careless and wasteful, several scolded her harshly. Regardless of the differences in the detail, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all say that Jesus didn’t let her take any of her criticisers crap, and he told them to leave her alone.
To those who called her a sinner, he corrected, saying that she was simply and wholeheartedly responding with love to the extravagant love she had received. To those who claimed she was a squanderer and a spendthrift, and suggested she should have sold the perfume for a year’s worth of wages and given the profit to the poor, Jesus questioned their commitment to him and to the poor for whose cause they claimed. They were all talk.
In the midst of all this criticism and critique Jesus commended this woman’s actions, asserting that she had done a good thing, a beautiful thing, a faithful thing. For she had anointed him for burial, she was pointing to his death which brings life.
I have been just like one of Simon’s house guests before, muttering to myself or the person next to me, “What a waste! That could have been sold and the money given to the poor.” The people reclining at the table hadn’t understood or appreciated this woman’s act of worship. All they had seen was the waste, and blinded by their pragmatics they couldn’t see the love.
At times we can be just the same.
I have been just like the woman before; I have been overwhelmed by the majesty of God and fallen to my knees. I have wept, my breath erratic and my shoulders heaving. Our expressions will each be different, but at times we can be just the same.

And just like this woman, I bet there have been times when you have encountered those who are like guests at Simon’s table, those who have become indignant and haven’t understood or appreciated your acts of service and worship to Christ. If this is the case for you, then I want to say that I am sorry this has happened. And I want you to be encouraged; continue to keep Christ at the centre of your worship and service.
Jesus said to the critics, “she has done what she could, and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.” (Mark 14:8 NLT)
May we be like this woman, may we do what we can, may we point to Christ’s death and resurrection. God has lavishly poured out his love on us, may we respond in kind. May we respond lavishly and extravagantly to the lavish and extravagant love we have received from God in Christ. It’s reckless really. May we live reckless lives of love, and may our commitment and care for the poor – who are always among us – be from the overflow of Christ’s love. May we be poured out like perfume, may our lives be like a fragrant offering, may the love of Christ permeate our lives and our world. Amen.

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