You know Jesus has some very strange friends! We are told that this dinner was held in the home of Simon the Leper from the details recorded both in Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3. I don’t think His friends would be considered “Cool” do you? After all, we can be sure that no self~respecting Jew would have been seen having dinner with someone associated with leprosy. Apart from Jesus of course, who seemed to enjoy breaking the religious taboos of His day. Perhaps Jesus had healed Simon ~ we can’t be too sure. In any case Jesus wanted to be there to share a meal with His closest friends, and His friends dearly wanted to honour Him.
2. Not in Public ~ Please!
Even stranger, Mary decided to pour an expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet ~ normally oil was poured on the head ~ if at all! And worse still she actually wiped His feet with her hair. Surely, everyone knew no respectable woman would be seen unbinding her hair in public. And after all only servant’s had the lowly task of having to attend to anyone’s feet. There are some things you just shouldn’t be seen doing in public ~ ever. Unless of course you are a close friend of Jesus.
3. Well What a Waste!
What a terrible waste of such a costly and expensive perfume. How right Judas was to point out that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. After all it was worth a year’s wages.
But was it a waste? In the eyes of the world, and of course a thief who liked to help himself from the moneybag it’s a clear cut case of throwing good money away. However, we cannot equate the value of lives and possessions according to the economy of this world’s values and opinions. A bright university graduate going to the mission field would be a waste ~ not so for CT Studd and if you have had the privilege of reading his biography you would have to agree. A widow giving the last few pennies she had to live on is not even worth acknowledging ~ but not according to Jesus (see Luke 21:1~4). We need kingdom eyes, and ears, and even more importantly hearts to see and understand the true value of Heavenly treasures.
Mary gave the most expensive treasure she had to Jesus, she alone had the honour of anointing Him in preparation for burial, she was defended and honoured by Him in public, just as she had been publicly rebuked and criticised in front of everyone. It is His right to honour His own, and defend them in His way and time. You know Mary didn’t just give her fortune away ~ she gave her whole heart to Jesus.
4. Doing Beautiful Things for Jesus
Jesus actually said Mary had done a beautiful thing to Him (Mark 14:6). “All things bright and beautiful” we used to sing as children ~ wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be bright and beautiful, as part of God’s new creation, living out a beautiful life just for Him? We can no longer actually serve Jesus in bodily form as Mary had who did not miss that window of opportunity. No, we have to do it for others. In His name and by the power of His Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus promised that even giving a cup of cold water would be noticed and rewarded by Him (see Mark 9:41).
5. Can Jesus do a Beautiful Thing for You ~ The Gospel
It can be hard to let someone do something for you. Call it pride or embarrassment but often we like to be the one’s doing, giving and serving. But there’s just one thing you cannot ever do for yourself. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No~one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus is our only hope of putting things right with God. Let Jesus do the most beautiful thing for your ever. Make you clean, washed from your sins, giving you the precious gift of eternal life and a relationship with God the Father. It’s there for the asking. Today.
6. Doing All You Can
When commending Mary for her selfless act of sacrifice and devotion Jesus actually said “She did what she could” (see Mark 14:8). We can take heart that Jesus knows when we have done all we can possibly can. After all Jesus only said God could do the impossible! When we have had a difficult time, a strained relationship, served wholeheartedly or even broken~hearted with no obvious success, Jesus knows you have done all you can. You have to leave the results to Him. Your times are in His hands.
7. The Poor You Will Always Have With You ~ Why Bother?
If Jesus said “you will always have the poor among you” (John 12:8) does it mean we shouldn’t bother to even start trying to help? After all if Jesus said we will always have the poor with us what’s the point!
Deuteronomy 15:11 says “There will always be poor people in the land.” (very similar words to those Jesus used note). Therefore I command you to be open~handed towards your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Notice the your ~ their ours! Jackie Pullinger was very indignant on one occasion when visiting a Church in the UK and told they had some poor people for her ~ “They are your poor not mine” she replied.
Yes the poor will always be there and under the Old Testament we are commanded to help, but in the New Testament Jesus says in Mark 14:7 “You can help them anytime you want”. There’s a beautiful contrast between the law and grace, under the old you have to, under the new you will want to! For if the love of God lives in our hearts we will have His love and compassion to want to help whenever and wherever we can. In this broken and hurting world the poor will be with us ~ they are yours and mine to help whenever we wish.
Looking at any episode of Jesus’ life and teaching under a microscope as it were is always self~revealing, challenging and turns this world’s values and opinions upside down. Or is it the right way up! Let’s be open to the heart of Jesus that He may reveal to us today the beautiful things He has planned for us to do. To preach good news to the poor. To bind up the broken~hearted. To bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes. The oil of gladness instead of mourning. And a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (See Isaiah Chapter 61). For Jesus’ sake. Amen.