The King Is Anointed
Devotion written by Becky Floy
Read: Matthew 26:6-16
Imagine the scene. In a house in Bethany belonging to Simon the Leper, Jesus is reclining at a table with friends. Although gathered together to eat and talk, He knows the sense of destiny surrounding Him. He is a wanted man. But His mind is made up. He is ready to make His final journey to Jerusalem, towards certain arrest.
Jesus is surrounded by friends with whom He who has shared and given so much, and into the room arrives a woman carrying an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. The container she carries isn’t important; it’s what’s inside and what she does with it that causes such a reaction. She breaks the jar and pours the contents on Jesus’ head as a beautiful act of worship and adoration as He reclines at the table.
This encounter with the King brings to the surface the deep realities of the hearts in the room.
The disciples are indignant. Imagine the gasps and the looks of horror: what is she doing?! What an excessive, unnecessary display of emotion. Why pour out the whole contents of the jar instead of a few drops? The whole thing is messy, embarrassing even.
Why this waste?
They cry: ‘Why this waste?…This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor’ (vv8,9). But Jesus rebukes them: ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me’ (vv10,11).
Of all the people in the room that day, only she appears to understand. Only she seems moved to extravagant, whole-hearted action. She knows what Jesus is about to do. For her. For all of mankind. And so, she pours out the perfume and as she does so, prophetically she prepares Him for burial (v12). She gives Him what she can: her outrageous worship. The kind of worship that disregards all else so it can focus on the only One worthy of adoration. Nothing is too precious. Nothing is too excessive.
Some speculate this may have been her future; that the alabaster jar of perfume – worth more than a year’s wages – may have been part of, if not all, of her dowry. Yet this woman gives Jesus her very best, pouring out more than perfume that day, as she pours out her very life in love.
A heart of gratitude
The woman came to Jesus with a heart of gratitude. But one of the disciples left with a heart of greed. And this greed caused him to do the unimaginable – betray his friend. Matthew places Judas’ dark turn of heart as happening immediately after this woman’s act of worship. After the meal he slopes off to the chief priests and asks, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him over to you?’ (v15).
The woman held nothing back; Judas gave nothing up. The contrast is clear: there is nothing that so delights the heart of Jesus as loving devotion from His disciples.
No sacrifice made for Him is forgotten: still the story is told – the story of a woman who loved her King so much that she gave her very best to the only One worthy of worship.
‘Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’ (v13).
* * * * * * * * *
• Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had declared, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:21). The woman in this passage found that her treasure was not in material things. Her joy lay in what she could give to Jesus. What does true treasure look like for you?
• The woman loved extravagantly because she had experienced first-hand the extravagant love of God. Read 1 John 3:1. Write a journal entry or a letter back to God, expressing your gratitude for His lavish and extravagant love for you.
Alabaster (Rend Collective)
Family worship idea
Get some perfume/aftershave and spray it on you. Enjoy the smell, and consider Jesus being anointed. With little children you could use shampoo at bath time. Talk about how the woman gave her best. What might it mean for us to give Jesus our best?