The first few days of Holy Week were busy for Jesus… the giant Parade on Sunday, lots of teaching and going in and out of the city, and more. Wednesday seems to slow down a bit and you can tell as Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, He is drawing close to those He cares most about. As He is about to go “all-in” for his disciples (and for US!!!) we see one of His followers express her “all-in” devotion and worship. Here’s the story:
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
Mary was ALL IN here. As I looked up synonyms of that phrase some suggested included: drained out, spent, emptied. Seems a pretty fitting word. Another synonym caught might eye: wasted. That’s all the disciples saw. How could she waste this? It’s easy for us right now to quickly read through this account and clearly see what a beautiful thing she was doing, but when we take a step back I’m guessing most of us can understand where the disciples are coming from. Other gospels tell us that the cost of this perfume was likely at least a year’s wages. That makes me take a step back. Would I be willing to even buy something that cost me a whole year’s worth of paychecks let alone just give it away… literally pour it out on someone’s head and feet?
In today’s world, that would be a car … (probably a really nice one)… a decent down payment on a house, and a whole lot more. It starts to make sense from our earthly point of view why the disciples thought there might be a better use for it. Yet Jesus scolds the disciples not the woman. No… this gift wasn’t wasted at all. And as Jesus promised, her gift is still talked about to this very day.
Mary’s gift is a great reminder for me to be ALL IN… to not hold back in my worship even when it seems extravagant or even wasteful. There’s a challenge to be present in worship as we gather throughout this week but also to worship with my life… to do the things that others see as a little crazy… to give more of my time when the justification to care more for myself is great… to do whatever it takes to get to the end of each day, each week, each year, and the end of my life and be gloriously spent for God’s glory.
Claude Bissell seems to have summarized it well:
“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”
And I might add: all to the glory of Jesus. Let’s give up half-hearted worship these last days of Lent and be ALL IN!