April 11: Anointing at Bethany
Scripture from The Message
6-9When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious, “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed over to the poor.” 10-13When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”
Of all those present at that dinner, Jesus alone knew that the expensive perfume was the oil anointing his body in preparation for his burial in little more than a week. Mark, Luke and John all give accounts of Jesus’ body being anointed after being removed from the cross. Matthew alone does not because this unnamed woman had already done that with her extravagant gift of love.
Ann Weems tells it this way in the first stanza of her poem. “Counting the Cost”:
The end began with a woman
who poured perfume upon his head.
She poured it lavishly, without counting the cost.
The disciples were angry:
The perfume could have been sold
And the money given to the poor.
Where have I heard that tune before?
O Holy Gift Giver,
Challenge us as never before to be extravagant in the gifts we give in your name. We thank and praise you for the extravagance of your gift to us, your son, our Savior, Jesus. Amen