“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 26:6-10
This is a powerful story. First of all, Jesus is visiting with Simon the leper. The leper. This man went from dying and estranged to having Jesus Christ as a supper guest. (This happened with Lazarus too—the man went from dead to dining with the King!) But if you know Jesus at all, you know that He is in the life-changing business; His desire is to impact lives. These pictures are ones of true redemption and healing.
While Jesus was dining with the restored man, a woman entered the scene with a very costly perfume. She had the perfume in an alabaster jar, which in those days would most likely have been from her family inheritance, and she poured out her treasure upon Jesus. This was the best of what she had to offer.
The scene begs the question: What are we willing to sacrifice for Jesus? Jesus tells each of us to pick up our cross and follow Him; He says to put your hand to the plow. These actions sound like sacrifices to me! This woman gave her all, knowing that the most important thing in life was sitting right in front of her. She knew who Jesus was and she understood why He was there. Even the disciples—the people closest to Him—didn’t get it! But she did. She knew that this man was about to die for her sins. This was the least that she could do for Him.
To understand the significance of what this woman did, we have to understand how the high priests in that day offered sacrifices. They would take what was about to be offered and dress it in a very specific way, anointing it with scented oil so that it would be a fragrant offering to God. This is exactly what this woman was doing for Jesus, she was preparing Jesus—the sacrificial Lamb—for burial. When Jesus was betrayed, beaten, bruised, and hung, this is the fragrance that He smelled. She was anointing the Lamb that was about to be slain.
“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me. When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” —Matthew 26:11-13
Now listen to this: Every time that this Gospel is preached, this woman will be remembered. I just gave this woman a memorial as I shared this story with you now. Jesus wanted this message to come across loud and clear: We are to give our all for Jesus. When we do, we will be recognized by our Father in heaven. When Jesus is real to you, when you understand who He is and what He has done, you will want to pour yourself out for His glory too.
What are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus? Your time? Your energy? Your success? The best thing that you can do for yourself, your marriage, and your children is to be continually encouraged by the Word of God. Pursue the revelation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, not only who He was, but who He is today. Christ will reveal Himself to you just as He did to this woman. Let the truths of Scripture jump off the pages, showing you what He’s done and what He promises to do for you. Let His life be an encouragement to you.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” —Philippians 3:10
I want to know Jesus, and not secondhand—I don’t just want to know what other people say about Him. I want to know Jesus and experience Him for myself.
—LaMorris Crawford, Chaplain of the Cincinnati Bengals
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