‘…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.’ (Mark 14:3)
Lord, help me be extravagant in my worship today!
Three Course Meal
Reading: Mark 14:1-11
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 ‘But not during the festival,’ they said, ‘or the people may riot.’
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.’
10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
This is a passage of extremes.
It starts by reminding us what time of year it is – Passover. Jesus’ enemies have already decided to kill him and are plotting when and how to do it. As yet, they are unsure except for one thing, not during the festival ‘or the people might riot.’ Passover was a time of extreme passion. This was the time when the Jews looked back to when they were rescued from slavery under Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Now, once again under foreign rule, Caesar not Pharaoh, this was a time when rebellious sentiment rose to the surface, and it didn’t take much for it to boil over. they couldn’t risk that. Rioting would lead to a Roman clamp down with consequences for everyone.
Then we have the woman pouring lavish amounts of perfume on Jesus in an extreme act of worship. This is costly worship both in terms of wealth and maybe more significantly for her, personal dignity and the risk of being ridiculed or rejected.Makes me wonder about how much of myself I give in worship.
The disciples react indignantly, outraged they protest about how the money could have been given to the pour. I wonder if they are being a little English, made uncomfortable by an extreme expression of emotion and are finding pious sounding ways to respond against it. One goes further, Judas, the treasurer. Heading off to those plotting against Jesus he provides them the ‘who’ for their plot against Jesus.
Lord, this passage shows extreme responses to Jesus. It seems as if there is no room for being ‘lukewarm’ in or worship and discipleship. Help me to be wholehearted in my following him.