The woman of Bethany, you and me

What would you do for Jesus?

Before answering that question, picture this: After a long day of teaching and going about town, imagine Jesus and the disciples reclining at a table together.   Unannounced, a woman that heard where Jesus was enters the house and pours a bottle of perfumed ointment that cost 300 days of labor (300 denari) on Jesus’s head.

Let’s think about the cost of that bottle of ointment in this way… With minimum wage now at $7.25 /hr, a work day being 8 hr long, and multiply that by 300 days… For us, that would be similar to pouring $17,400* on Jesus’s head and “only” having his shiny hair to prove it!  No extra mouths were fed, no new ministries were started, no church fund for mission trips was increased, etc.

The disciples are in an outrage and scold the woman!  They talk of what they could have done for the poor with the cost of that bottle.  In their minds–and probably in ours too– her use of that precious and costly resource was not the most practical, effective, nor successful.   But here’s what Jesus said to the disciples, what he still says to you and me:

“Leave her alone.  Why do you trouble her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them.  But you will not always have me.  She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9).

For that lady in Bethany, Jesus was worth everything to her, and she did what she could with what she had.  She didn’t know God’s purpose for her actions at that time–that she was preparing Jesus’s body for burial.  On the other hand, she knew Jesus could heal the sick and feed the poor, and He didn’t need her money to do that.  In this way, her faith was simple, yet it was strong.  She brought him her heart, her devotion, and revealed her trust in God, knowing that He would provide for her needs and the needs of others.

The truth is that I’m still trying to understand that last verse…how wherever the Gospel is proclaimed throughout the whole, wide world–whether in the Amazon rainforest, a house church in Africa, a secret meeting in China, a classroom on a college campus in your state, or your family’s own dinner table–this woman’s actions are being told.  Maybe it deals with her part in preparing him for burial and then he was resurrected, or maybe it’s because of the love that she showed for him… But what is amazing to consider is this: faith in, hope of and love for Jesus will endure beyond our actions, even beyond our name.  We never learn the name of that lady in Bethany.  But even 2,000 years later, we hear of her outrageous love for Jesus and know that it’s being multiplied throughout the Body of Christ as more and more with that same, radical love for Jesus spread the Gospel across the globe.

So my question today is this:  How does the story of the lady in Bethany (Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:2-5) affect you and me today?  Knowing what Jesus thought of that woman’s actions, what do we think he would say about our actions?  Lastly and most importantly, what is Jesus worth to you and to me and how does His worth in our lives compel us to live?

Praying your day is filled with SONshine,

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NOTES:

*(that’s not actually what 300 denari would cost today, but it’s just a comparative term…)