Jesus was never known to be extravagant. We often slept in the open fields or were cramped into small groups throughout the home of Peter or one of the other local guys. When Jesus told the crowd that He had nowhere to lay His head- that was not just “poetry”. Since He had nowhere to lay His head then neither did we. We were so poor that one day Jesus had Peter pay His temple tax with a coin taken from the mouth of a fish Peter had caught; and, by the way, there was no change left over.
Over the last number of weeks Jesus had told us over and over that He was going to die. This made NO sense! He was Jesus. Demons feared Him. Storms obeyed Him. Food multiplied in His hands. He even called Lazarus out of the Tomb! We most often just tried to change the subject, but He found some way of bringing it up again and again.
A few days ago we stopped in the home of Simon the leper. He is still called that because that is what he was before he met Jesus! We were all having a fine meal when this lady barges in and makes a direct line for the Master. We expected to hear some kind of plea for Jesus to leave for another sick or dying child; we had gotten used to this over and over. But she was not here looking to get anything from Jesus. Instead she pulled a perfume flask from the folds of her dress and broke it open. Instantly the room was filled with the strong scent of the pure nard! She poured the entire contents over Jesus’ head. It ran in little rivulets down His hair, down His beard, and then droplets fell down onto His clothes and feet. She began to weep. Her tears mixed with the perfume and fell on His feet. She looked at a loss but could not contain the tears and had nothing with which to dry the “mess” they were making. So she used her own hair!
This was wrong on so many levels: what a waste; that vial was worth a whole years’ wages. This woman was known in town and was not of the right kind- if you get my drift. The Poor would have benefitted from the sale and donation of the proceeds of that jar … and Jesus would have benefitted more by not being cried over by a woman like this – especially in the home of a Pharisee!!
We waited for Jesus to command her to stop; to push her away. Instead He added to the whole confusion by saying the most unexpected thing: “Leave her alone; she is anointing me for my Burial.” Then it struck me where I had most often smelled this particular scent- it was at funerals. The mixture would vary a little here and there but there was no mistaking the strong incense that was used to cover the smell of Death.
This woman had braved the stares of our dinner party, the insults of our “wise stewardship”, and the sarcastic remarks about her character because she knew something we did not grasp: Jesus was dying—soon! Simon may have been cleansed from his leprosy but this woman knew a cleansing from Jesus none of us could ever have appreciated.
When Jesus died most of us were not even there. Only John; and he was busy with Mary and his aunt who were weeping uncontrollably. It fell to Nicodemus and Joseph to do what rightfully we should have done: bury our Master. They had little time and only the burial spices that they had on hand. But Jesus had been properly anointed with burial spices, with tears, and with gratefulness by a woman who is famous even though we are never told her name.
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.