|While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7 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. |
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. 9 "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. (Matthew26:6-10)
If i knew that i were facing death by Roman Crucifixion in a few days time, an act of tender and generous love like this one would help me and comfort me a great deal. It is as if the woman, moved by the Spirit, gives Jesus a hug from God the Father Himself.
Some commentators have suggested that as Jesus sweated as He prayed in the garden, as He was whipped and as He carried the cross, His sweat would have pushed the perfume to the surface and Jesus would have been comforted by the scent and the reminder of this act of love.
The soldiers who were manhandling Him may have smelt it too. Perfume, in the culture of the day, was a symbol of blessing and privilege. It may just have given them a hint that they weren't just dealing with a common criminal. Ultimately it may have been just one of the cues that caused the centurion to say: "Surely this was the Son of God!"
The woman's actions challenge us to perform "random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" and it is a challenge we must accept.
But this passage is more than just a call to do good and beautiful things for people... I invite you to picture this woman who is moved by Jesus' love and life to do this beautiful thing. She recognises His majesty and His Divinity and treats Him accordingly with great reverence and devotion. She instinctively realises that He is going to die and does a good and beautiful thing for Him.
When you consider what Jesus has done for you, what does it move you to?
This Easter may we be moved to acts of worship and service.