I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
Relate: In three of the four gospels, the story of Mary pouring her jar of perfume at the feet of Jesus is recorded. Unlike the others, Luke tells a different story. Here are the differences…
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is at the house of Simon the Pharisee in Galilee (likely either Nain or Capernaum). It is early in his ministry and an unnamed, formerly sinful woman comes and pours a jar of perfume at his feet, weeping and washing his feet with her hair. Simon saw this act thought to himself, “If Jesus knew about this woman, he wouldn’t let her even touch him.” Jesus responds by contrasting Simon’s rude treatment with this woman’s worship. He finishes, “Whoever has been forgiven much loves much.”
In the other account, Jesus is at the house of Simon the Leper in Judea (Bethany). It is the day before his triumphal entry and Mary comes in with a jar of perfume and anoints his head and feet. At this point, nobody would have considered Mary a sinful woman and the Pharisees had all publicly disassociated themselves from Jesus. The objection here does not come from Simon thinking this is a sinful woman but Judas complaining that this is a waste of money. Jesus responds to Judas, not with an illustration of forgiveness but rather in saying “The poor you will always have with you” and that Mary has done this to prepare him for burial.
The anointings were done by different women, in different towns, at different times, for different reasons. There were also different objections receiving different responses. Even still, because the host on both occasions was named Simon (a common name held by multiple others in the NT as well) and because there was an offering of expensive perfume, I see people confusing these events all the time.
React: Here are some things we know about Mary’s offering…
- It was an appropriate act of worship. Mary was already one who would “sit at the feet” of Jesus, but she had also just experienced her brother, Lazarus, being raised. I don’t care how expensive that alabaster jar might have been, compared to getting her brother back it was nothing. If we have been saved, then there is nothing too costly for us to give to our Savior. He deserves our absolute best and it is right and good for us to give it to Him.
- It was misunderstood. In both cases, the act of worship was ridiculed by those around. Judas complained that her act of worship was wasteful. She wasn’t being a good steward and it could have been put to better use. When we step out and say “This is what I want to do for, or give to God” and many around us will respond, “now let’s be reasonable about this…” That is proof that we are probably on the right track. What you are doing or what you are giving is not their act of worship. It is your act of worship. Give it. Let them mock.
- It was not cheap. King David said once, “How can I give God a sacrifice that cost me nothing?” If what we are thinking of giving to God doesn’t hurt us in some way, it is almost certainly not a big enough gift. We should be halfway agreeing with Judas, “I don’t know about this, God, it does seem a bit much.” Good. God blesses grand gestures and we can all benefit from the occasional offering of all that we have to give and then even more.
- It was inspired… and inspiring. Mary almost certainly knew about the previous anointing. I can picture her wondering, “what could I give to show my gratitude to Jesus?” and then remembering the story while her eyes lock onto her own alabaster jar that is her life savings. She was inspired by the sacrifice of another. In turn, Jesus promised that people would talk about her gift as long as the gospel is proclaimed. In what way could Mary’s gift be an inspiration to you? What absolutely ridiculous, unreasonable, incredibly costly thing could you give to God as a “wasteful” act of worship? I know that God is pricking your heart about something right now. Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. Get up and do it. There is nothing too crazy or too costly for God.
Here is my time. Here is my money. Here is my life. Everything I have is Yours and You are worthy of all I have to give. I waste my life pouring it out at Your feet. What I am giving You now. This offering. This act of faith. It is simply an expression for me to demonstrate Your worthiness.
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To read previous years devotionals taken from the February 8th please click below: