Here is today’s reading on YouVersion:
Matthew 26:1-13 & N.T. Wright’s commentary
I sometimes identify with the disciples when I read the story of the woman anointing Jesus with perfume, but Jesus uses the episode to teach a number of truths–not least of which is that an action taken out of love for Jesus is a historic happening. The practical side of me agrees with the disciples when they think (in N.T. Wright’s words):
Here we are in a place set aside to look after the poor, and you go pouring out a month’s wages just like that? What can you be thinking about? . . . Jesus speaks. ‘What’s your problem?’ he asks. ‘This was a good thing she’s done. As for the poor, there will be plenty of time to look after them; but you haven’t got long to look after me. You know what she’s done? She has prepared my body for burial!’
I’m reminded of Jesus’ response to being asked why his disciples didn’t fast in Luke: “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” Like fasting, caring for the poor is necessary and expected–but while Jesus is around, it’s a good thing to party and to express love and affection–in this case, extravagantly! But at this point N.T. Wright points out the twist in the narrative:
The woman is both thrilled at Jesus’ affirmation and distraught at the mention of burial . . . If he is actually going to die, what good news will there be to tell around the world? How does that make any sense?. . . After his actions in the Temple the chief priests would be looking for a chance to kill him. What none of the disciples yet realized is that, for Jesus, this was not only the direct and foreseeable result of his whole kingdom- mission. It was the means by which that mission would be accomplished.
Paul wrote, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” As we are preparing for Holy Week, we have the privilege of knowing that Jesus’ seemingly-insane mission ends in victory–and we, like Jesus, can share that hope and certainty with everyone around us. And let’s continue to listen for what Jesus has for each of us today:
Pause there awhile and listen to what the others are saying. Then imagine that Jesus himself comes over, pulls up a chair, and starts to talk a bit more, to you in particular. What’s he going to say?
Lord Jesus, give us wisdom to understand your strange vocation, and to tell your good news throughout the world.