Today is Ash Wednesday.
As a part of our Ash Wednesday service at my church, I read Matthew 26:6-13.
“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
It’s days before Jesus’ death. He knows he’s going to die. He knows that as he sits and eats his chips and sandwich, there are people plotting and scheming against him, twisting and manipulating his words. But, he takes some of his precious last hours on Earth and sits in a house in a town called Bethany. A place that actually means, ‘House of Misery’ or ‘House of the Poor.’ He’s eating with a social outcast named, Simon, who’s known all over town as Seeping Open Wound Guy.
And there’s Jesus, eating with Seepy Simon and a few others, relaxed enough to recline.
Then this woman comes in. She doesn’t knock. She doesn’t call ahead. She hadn’t sent out her Save the Date, ‘I’m coming to see you!’ card. She just shows up at Simon’s house, walks through the door and straight to Jesus. She has tunnel vision. She’s carrying an alabaster jar that contains expensive perfumed ointment and she’s walking towards Jesus.
The oil was worth about a year’s paychecks and everyone in the house knew it.
I bet some of the folks thought she was going to hand it to Jesus as a gift and they slapped their foreheads thinking they forgot Jesus’ birthday. But, the woman doesn’t hesitate. She doesn’t hear the whispers or clambering. She doesn’t worry about how incredibly improper it was for a woman to waltz into a room unannounced and uninvited.
She takes the jar and breaks it open.
I imagine a fog of silence in the place, with the exception of some heavy breathers as she brashly takes the jar and breaks it against the table where Jesus is sitting, never losing eye contact. Pieces of jar drop to the floor, echoing in the room breaking everyone to a hush. She takes the broken jar, lifts it above Jesus’ head and without permission or apology pours its contents over his head.
The ointment drips down his hair, onto his face and nestles into his beard.
I imagine his crinkled eyes shut, his face drawn upwards, soaking in this moment and his mouth closed and curved into a smile. He understood this moment. He loved this moment. He lived for this moment and he was going to die for this moment.
Pouring oil over someone’s head wasn’t a new concept to this crowd. This was something familiar to their customs, their culture and their history. To us, today, this seems crazy. Can you imagine having a few friends over for lunch and someone comes into your house unannounced and without saying a word, walks over to you and dumps a bottle of Chanel No. 5 over your head?
The only thing weirder than that, is watching Brad Pitt in one those awful commercials.
Kings were anointed with oil by a prophet or priest as a part of their coronation ceremony declaring them as a king. The Greek word, ‘Christos’ (Christ), is a translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah, which means, ‘the anointed one.‘ Then in walks this woman, who is #1. A woman, #2. Not a priest, #3. Not a prophet, #4. Did I mention she was a woman? And she’s the one who anoints Jesus.
She declares in this moment that Jesus is not just the Messiah, but he’s HER Messiah.
This becomes a public display of an extremely personal act of worship and adoration. She comes unabashedly to Christ without reservation, without regard to the naysayers, without care for the cost and gives him her all.
As Christians, this is how we’re to live.
We’re called to pour out. We’re called to give all and we’re called to leave the aroma of Christ wherever we go.
This is Day 13 of my 100 Days of Blogger.
(NOTE: I missed 3 days, but I’ll make it up to you with chocolates and cat videos.)