A midweek dinner party…
Mark 14:3-9 (NIVUK)
3 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.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly.
6 ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’
On Sunday we reflected upon this story and what it had to say about Jesus facing opposition, but today, let’s think about the woman’s act itself.
- It’s a lavish, expensive act, costing a year’s worth of wages
- Often fragrance in the Bible is associated with worship and offering sacrifices. Is Mark both saying that this is an act of worship, and in some way moving the Temple away from where the building was to where God is, here in Jesus?
- Jesus describes it as a ‘beautiful act’. I think it’s fair to say that in our stream of church tradition, beauty isn’t something we think about often, maybe we even avoid it seeing it in some sense as in opposition to humility. What do you think he means by the word ‘beautiful’?
Perhaps it’s worth thinking about how these aspects inform our worship. And then of course, Jesus finishes by saying the perfume is like the fragrance used to prepare a body for burial…
Is there a way you could express your thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice this week that is beautiful, flamboyant, extravagant, multi-sensory or lavish?