An Offering to Jesus
“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.’”
- Mark 14:3-9
At this point in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Palm branches were waved and placed on the road while Jesus was heralded, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
(Mark 11:9-10). Jesus was glorified by the people and welcomed into the city of Jerusalem as the true king. Not everyone was celebrating Jesus. Even though it is just two days prior to the Passover, the chief priests and scribes were not conspiring about how to best celebrate the special day; instead, they were conspiring about how to arrest Jesus without causing an uproar among the people.
Meanwhile, Jesus was at the home of Simon the leper. While he was enjoying time with his friends, an unnamed woman came to Jesus and poured ointment over his head. Those nearby were astounded at this great offering. They scolded the woman for pouring out such abundance upon the head of Jesus. Certainly, this money could be better used to feed the poor or to care for those in need. While they may have sounded righteous for a moment, Jesus would provide much needed insight as well as rebuke.
Indeed, this ointment was expensive; it was worth about a year’s worth of wages. However, Jesus did not rebuke this woman for her wastefulness, but rather he affirmed her heart and her offering unto him. This woman understood something these men weren’t willing to acknowledge. She knew who Jesus was and she was aware of what was ahead of him. Those who rebuked her still didn’t understand that Jesus was headed to the cross. His time with them was coming to an end. Their words revealed their hearts; they weren’t focused on the way of the cross or the true way of Jesus.
In affirming this act, Jesus also said that her story would continue to be told with the Gospel. Sure enough, Mark was faithful to share her story. This story contrasts those who embrace the person and work of Jesus against those who remain intent upon their own agendas and miss Jesus and his journey to the cross. Claiming to love Jesus is not enough nor is saying the right things. Religious words and acts can make one appear to be holy or faithful. Instead, it is those who will put their faith and trust in the Messiah and in his work on the cross who are the true children of God, the holy and faithful ones of the Lord. These are the people who offer themselves unto him – their lives, gifts, time, and riches.
This woman saw Jesus. Her heart was to love him, to serve him, and to prepare him for what was ahead. What about us? Will we take this time to really see Jesus, to follow him in the agony of the cross, and then to marvel at the victory of his resurrection? Jesus is looking for those who want to love him, serve him, and build his kingdom. May we be the ones who step up and out to faithfully pour ourselves out as an offering unto him. Reflection:
What challenges you in this narrative? What delights you? In what way can you offer yourself unto the Lord today?
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