"Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. Mark 14:3-9. Matthew 26:6-13. John 12:1-7 "
Listen: Phil Wickman, "You're Beautiful" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JP_HLFdfok
As we draw nearer to Holy Week, we can imagine Jesus anticipating what awaits him. He has foretold his suffering and death on several occasions to his disciples -- always met with denial and misunderstanding. The plots are thickening, the leaders are conspiring on how to bring Jesus down.
Our bible study this week finds Jesus in Bethany. The most surprising thing happens. An unnamed woman (although in John's gospel she is Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus) enters, carrying costly perfume. It was worth at least a year's worth of wages for the average man. Without saying a work she anoints Jesus' head -- a sign of consecration -- kings and priests and sacred objects are anointed in similar fashion. The title "Christ," which we use for Jesus, means in Greek the "anointed one."
This passage is stunning and has a lot to tell on several levels.
An unnamed woman anoints Jesus. Who has, thus far in the gospels, acted so boldly? Especially a female acting with such spiritual authority?
When has Jesus, to the date, proclaimed that someone has done something beautiful for him?
When did anyone ever do something beautiful for Jesus?
Jesus, defending her against the criticisms of the disciples, sees this as an anointing in preparation for his burial, which would happen in a few, short days. If we recall, Jesus received the gift of myrrh from the Wise Ones (the magi, "Three Kings"), an anointment used with the death, foreshadowed the prominence of his death.
There are people all around us who are facing difficult times. They are enduring uphill battles that show no signs of abating. Some are alone in their struggle, and sense the darkness closing in. Who will help them along the way?
This woman with the costly ointment couldn't stop Jesus from being killed. She did what was in her power to do. She went to Jesus, without a word and gave him what she had. She emptied out her savings and anointed him. Jesus, you are the Holy One. Jesus, you are God's Chosen. Jesus, you are not alone.
We are called to anoint those around us who are hurting, suffering, struggling. What does it cost us to take the time to be kind or to reassure someone of their worth? This act was one of the few beautiful gestures recorded in the gospels. No doubt it stayed in Jesus' heart during his trial and gave him strength as he was led to the cross.
Remember Psalm 23:5 "You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows." Being affirmed and loved adds meaning and comfort to our journey, especially when it turns rocky. It is a beautiful thing
Each of us has the power to anoint using, words, deeds or prayer. Let this unnamed female disciple inspire us in our own faith journey. Be lavish with someone today who is hurting. Do something beautiful -- affirm someone in doubt, make a difference and give strength, hope and love where it is needed.
Who will I reach out to this day?
How will I bring beauty to their life?
Pray: " Jesus, you have us the costly gift of your life, and the promise of eternity with you. Guide us to do beautiful things for your people in need."