World English Bible translation
14:3While he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard - very costly. She broke the jar, and poured it over his head. 14:4 But there were some who had indignation among themselves, saying, "Why has this ointment been wasted? 14:5 For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor." They grumbled against her.
14:6But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me. 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. 14:8 She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying. 14:9 Most assuredly I tell you, wherever this gospel may be preached throughout the whole world, that also which this woman has done will be spoken of for a memorial of her."
Today's Scripture is a rare domestic scene from the final days of the life of Jesus. He is at dinner in the house of Simon the leper. It is probable that this was a man that Jesus had healed of his leprosy. It is also probable that this is the same situation recorded in the other gospels and that the woman who anointed the head of Jesus was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. As they were sitting at dinner, the woman went to Jesus and poured the jar of expensive perfume on his head. Some of the people who were there (the Gospel of John tells us that specifically it was Judas who would betray Him) complained that the perfume was worth 300 denarii and could have been given to the poor.
But Jesus told them to leave her alone. He said that she had anointed Him for His burial beforehand. "For you always have the poor with you … but you will not always have me." Jesus is not denying the need to help the poor and thankfully most people recognize that about this passage. But He is saying that there is something more important.
This woman acted out of love and gratitude to give a personal tribute to Jesus. He had meant something to her. She wanted to honor Him. So she gave an extravagant gift. Perhaps the woman was very rich and the expense of 300 denarii was nothing to her. More likely it would have represented a financial burden. But she used the perfume lavishly.
This is the kind of devotion that Jesus meant when He said that we are to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind. Our love for Christ must have no bounds and no limits. It must be willing to risk all and spend all. Not only was this woman willing to give it, but Jesus commends her because she gave at the proper time. Jesus was moved because she anointed Him even before He was put to death. It is most likely that she did not realize that she was anointing His body for death. She meant it to honor Him in life. Jesus saw it as yet another foreshadowing of what would be.
When we give extravagantly of ourselves to God, He uses our sacrifices in ways that we cannot imagine. God will make the most of whatever we offer Him. The more extravagant the sacrifice, the more that God will do with it. Do not be afraid to offer everything to God for everything that you offer to Him will come back to you tenfold. You cannot outgive God. God will not return your gift in like measure. God will give you back something greater than anything you give to Him.
What does God want from you right now? What is the most extravagant thing that you can give to Him today?
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