The powerful testimony of a transformed life
|Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfumed oil, and she poured it on his head as he was at the table. When the disciples saw this, they became indignant and said, "Why this waste? It could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor!" When Jesus learned of this, he said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a good service for me. For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this oil on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her." (Matthew26:6-13)|
John's gospel tells us that the woman was Mary (the sister of Lazarus) and that the perfume was worth more than a year's wages. The disciples were taken aback - this was an expansive guesture - it was over the top. We're also told that Jesus' approval of her actions triggered Judas' decision to betray Him.
There is some debate as to whether the account of the sinful woman who anoints Jesus and dries His feet with her hair in Luke 7:36-50 is the same event as this one. Whether it is or isn't, there are still some important thoughts for mission here.
- If this was an act of gratitude for being forgiven - which is how Luke sees it - it does speak of a changed life - and of a great forgiveness.
- If this was an act of worship and devotion, it still speaks of great love. This, too, speaks of a changed life. And we love and worship because "He first loved us."
- Sometimes senseless acts of beauty catch people's attention in ways that preaching doesn't.
- When we lavish love and care on "the least of these" we are doing it for Jesus. When we remember this, then Jesus' comment about always having the poor with us takes on a whole new light - we always have the poor with us and we don't have Jesus' physical presence - so how do we anoint Him and wash His feet? We do it for the poor! (There's a whole sermon in this point!!)
- Sometimes we need to disregard the budget.
Mother Theresa understood that God calls us to show this kind of generosity to others (sometimes to the person we least expect or who least expects it!) And He may ask us to do it without considering the budget, the precedent we may be setting, or what others may think.
Just as Mary's generosity and service is still talked about, and just as Mother Theresa's generosity and service is still talked about, our generosity and service will create a lasting impression...