While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” –Matthew 26:6-10
Some years ago, our family was enjoying a night free of outside activities. The kids were playing games, reading, and doing homework, my husband was kicked back in the recliner watching TV, and I was lying down on the couch, feet up and relishing the slower pace. It was then I felt something cold being spread across my toes. I opened my eyes to see our (then) three-year-old son carefully “painting” my toenails with his sister’s sparkly blue gel body glitter. Surprised, I asked him what he was doing. “I’m painting your toes, Mama,” came the straightforward reply. He was, in fact, intently working on his “design” which started at my toes and ended up covering my entire foot. What amazed me, however, was not his action so much as the devotion that covered his face. When my husband started to intervene with expressions of how Jesse was “wasting” the girls’ glitter, Wisdom jumped in and stopped him. For, this was more than just playing dress up and wasting his sisters’ makeup, this was an act of love from a young son to his dearly loved Mama.
It was that night that I embraced the humanity depicted in the Scripture above. Truly, the scene invites us to close our eyes and allow our imaginations to dive in and listen to the mixture of conversation and laughter of Jesus and his followers; to smell the freshly-made bread and pungent aroma of cooked lamb; to see Jesus reclining on the floor next to a low table lit with oil candles and covered with bowls of dates, figs, and olives; and to imagine the unusual mixture of guests of fishermen, tax collectors, Pharisees, men, women, servants, and Jesus. The room must have been filled with energy and wonder.
Enter the woman. Oblivious to the activity around her, she focuses intently on the Object of her devotion, the One who set her free. Her tears flow freely as the perfume runs down Jesus’ hair, face, shoulders, and body. “What waste!” her objectors retort but are quickly hushed by Jesus as He accepts the gift of her love and devotion. Extravagant waste? Maybe. Extravagant devotion? Absolutely.
Sometimes we hold back our expression of love to Jesus for fear of the reaction of those around us. What would your devotion look like if we did the same as the woman?
John 12: 1-8; Mark 14:1-9; Luke 7:36-50