*“Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. Matthew 26:6-7
I didn’t mean to be wasteful. I really didn’t. I wasn’t thinking that way at all. I had a gift I wanted to give. But, maybe I should start at the beginning.
I’d met Jesus some time before. He had been kind to me. When you looked at Jesus, you saw compassion in his eyes. It showed in his every action towards anyone who was suffering, sick, broken or in grief.
Where some would try to blame a person who was sick for being sick, Jesus didn’t. He seemed to understand why we made mistakes, why we fell into sin. Jesus didn’t judge us or condemn us. Being around Jesus made a person want to change into a better human being. Jesus spread light into our lives and with that light, we wanted to be more like him. Is it that when we are that close to genuine goodness, we see who we might be?
I used to think that my life was a complete and total waste. I’d messed up. I knew that, but what I didn’t know was how to change the situation I was in. I thought that I was trapped forever. But, Jesus made me see I could be someone else. I didn’t have to keep living the life I was. I could change. Oh, I would need help, but I could be different.
I had carried an alabaster jar about my neck for a long time. In it I kept nard, a perfume that is made from a flowering plant which grows in the Himalayas. The oil was precious and used in the temple service. It’s aroma was a sign and symbol of all that is beautiful and true.
Like I was telling you, I never planned to be wasteful. That night, I had an overwhelming need to do something special for Jesus. He had done so very much for me. I wanted him to know how much he meant to me. So, I used a gift that I had been given.
Jesus was at Simon’s house with some of his disciples. It is our custom to anoint people on certain occasions as a way of saying, “You’ve been on an important mission in life and we recognize that.” I had heard rumors that Jesus was the Messiah. I wasn’t sure about that, but I did know I had never met anyone like him before. I knew that he was making a difference in my life and the lives of many others. I believed he was sent by God. How could anyone who loved people the way he did, not have been?
Well, I had my flask. Jesus was sitting at the table. At first, I thought about sprinkling a couple of drops of oil on his head, but it didn’t seem like enough. Nothing except all that I had could begin to be enough. When your heart is spilling over with gratitude for a person, you want to do everything you can for them, so I used it all – every drop. I poured my oil on Jesus’s head. I was scared though. What would he think of me? Would he think I was a disturbed woman? Would he accept it as a gift? Or would he understand my gift?
Oh, and then there were people upset with what I’d done. My oh my, were they upset. One after another they complained.
“She should have sold the oil of nard.”
“She could have done some good with it.”
“What a waste.”
“She should have given it to the poor.”
And I probably should have, but my heart told me to pour all of the oil on Jesus’s head. To anoint him for the work he was doing. To recognize him for it.
I feared that Jesus agreed with them, but to my amazement, he defended my actions. He said they would always have the poor with them, and there would be plenty of opportunity to give to the poor. But, he would only be with us for a short time. Then he said, “By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly . . . wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Matthew 26:13 His words sent a chill through my body. “No! no! no! I wanted to say. I was preparing you for your work and your mission, not death. No, not burial, but life!”
Later, I would realize what I had done, was nothing short of preparing him for his final journey. Within days it would come to pass, even as Jesus had spoken. His body broken and laid in a tomb. On that horrible night, I found comfort in his words to me. I had done so little for this good man. Was he the Messiah? I don’t know.
There is a rumor that he said he would rise on the third day, should he be put to death. But who rises from the dead? Today I weep for the loss of a good man, a kind rabbi. I find comfort that I did all I could to bring him joy. In my tears I remember the goodness of this man and weep for it’s too soon ending. I wonder what tomorrow will bring. I hope for a miracle. But, what can break the bonds of death?
*This is one of a series of monologues I wrote and used in the churches I served, prior to retirement.
Devotions for Ash Wednesday through Easter came be found here.