[notice]A fortnightly devotional based on everyday experiences.[/notice]
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 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.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. Matthew 26:6-11 (NIV)
Maybe you have been a desperate man or woman. I know I have.
Just put me in a store with a sale and watch my hands morph into lobster claws and grab everything in sight. My eyes go wild, and large and frantic, and I somewhat resemble a person who has rabies. It is funny, really, the look that desperation and greed bestow on me.
I think Jesus saw the same look on the disciples’ faces when he visited his friend Simon and a woman carrying a large jar of expensive perfume arrived. I imagine she walked in holding a bottle of Imperial Majesty: the most expensive perfume ever made.
The bottle is made from Baccarat crystal with an 18-carat solid gold collar and a 5-carat, white diamond embedded in it. Filled with Clive Christian’s signature fragrance No 1 there are only ten 500ml bottles of this perfume and each sells for over R1.7 million.
I think this is the kind of lavishness that scandalised the disciples.
I think this is the kind of extravagance that put a look of desperation on twelve faces, turning them into greedy, desperate men.
They thought maybe she would offer it to Jesus so he could help the poor.
Instead, she pulled off the heavy gold covering, placed it carefully on the ground and began pouring the perfume lavishly into Jesus’ hair.
They waited for Jesus to do something.
Eventually they asked Jesus “Why the waste? This perfume could have been sold for a million Rand and the money given to the poor?”
Jesus turned his face up to the woman who was working the perfume into his hair and smiled as he said, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
I think the disciples blinked, shook images of starving children out of their heads and then waited for Jesus to explain.
It is the way I would have looked at Jesus, anyway.
Or maybe the disciples understood what Jesus was saying immediately. I didn’t. The realisation came over me slowly: the way cold creeps into bones.
What she had done was beautiful because Jesus does not view treasure and possessions and eternity the way we do.
What the disciples saw was a woman pouring millions of coins over Jesus’ head but what Jesus perceived was a woman lavishing love on him. Offering him not money but worship.
There was beauty in her action because there was love in her action.
I think Jesus was trying to gently remind the disciples that the way we view our possessions reveals a lot about where our hearts are.
When we look at our possessions and only see their value we miss an opportunity to use our possessions to show love.
We become desperate, lobster clawed people who grab everything in sight instead of people who do beautiful things out of love.
Do you put more value on the price of something then how you can use it to bless others? Ask God to show you how to use your possessions to do beautiful things.