Our reading begins and ends with deceit and the deliberate planning to murder Jesus. But in between, there is a beautiful story of love that was shown to Him.
- As Jesus reclined at table in a private home, a woman came to Him carrying perfume valued at perhaps a year’s salary.
- She came to show that she loved Him.
- Others might be plotting His death, but at least one person was showing Him that He was special, to her.
- I want us to look at how love behaves, as we see her loving attitude to Jesus. The expressions of love are shown as follows.
1). LOVE TAKES THE INITIATIVE. SHE CAME TO HIM
We don’t know what sort of contact this woman had had with Jesus before this.
- She may have been grateful for a blessing she had received at His hands.
- She may have been overcome with the sheer integrity of His life.
- Whatever it was, she wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass to express her love. She came to Him.
- She was perhaps the last person to show Jesus He was special, in her eyes.
2). LOVE OFFERS THE BEST THAT ONE HAS
When the woman anointed Jesus she was parting with the best that she had.
She could have thought with worldly wisdom,
- “I’ll use some cheap perfume. Then I can pour it all over his head.”
- Or she could have thought, “I’ll just put a little dab on His forehead and keep the rest for another time.”
But there wasn’t going to be another time. Within hours He was going to be dead. She broke the jar and poured it all over His head and anointed His head with it.
Love offers the best that one has, sacrificially and generously. [Perhaps the value of a sacrificial gift lies not so much in what is given but in how much is left for oneself after the gift is given!]
3). LOVE MAKES THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY
It would have been so easy for the woman to put off what she wanted to do until a later time.
- But she wanted to do it, today! It meant crashing a private dinner party.
- It meant her actions may have been misunderstood.
- Some might have questioned her morality.
- Others may have been secretly jealous that Jesus had been the recipient of such unashamed love.
- Some may have been secretly jealous that they had never been free to be so uninhibited in showing love to their own loved ones.
She did what she could, when she could. St Paul described such an attitude as, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Eph 5:16. NIV.
Not taking advantage of the opportunities
As a young person, I was deeply challenged by the words that go something like this, “I shall pass through this world but once. If therefore there be any kindness that I can show, or any good thing I can do, let me do it now, let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”. (Attributed to Stephen Grellett 1773-1855).
The moments for expressing love which are never taken up, may be lost for eternity. Many families worldwide and throughout the ages have lived with regret expressing such thoughts as, “Why didn’t we tell [him or her] that we really appreciated and loved [him or her]. Now it’s too late! If only we could turn back the clock!” No human can!
4). LOVE IS NEVER WASTED
I want us to notice the different values placed on her action in pouring ointment on his head and anointing Him.
i). The crowd’s value judgment. “Waste!”
- Many there perhaps, including some of the disciples were thinking, “What a waste.” And they rebuked the woman publicly.
- In fact they tried to be spiritual about it, saying, “This ointment could have been sold and given to the poor”. They saw it all as a terrible waste. They were indignant with her.
- But wait a minute! It was her ointment, not theirs, to do with as she pleased.
- There was something sinister in what they were saying. What they were really saying was this “He isn’t worth it!” He isn’t worth it!”
- What a terrible thing to say about the Creator of the world.
- Everything belonged to Him for He made it all.
- A little bit of the creation He made was being poured over His head and people didn’t like it. “It’s a waste. He isn’t worth it”.
ii). Her value judgement. “Precious”
- Jesus was precious to her.
- No sacrifice would be too great for her to make for Him.
- She didn’t have the truth we know now, that within hours, He would be hanging on a cross bearing the sin of the whole world.
iii). Jesus’ value judgment. “Beautiful”
What did Jesus think? He rebuked those who had rebuked the woman, and told them to leave her alone, for what she had done was no waste, but a “Beautiful thing.”
Isn’t it incredible that the same action can be taken so differently by people.
- She said to Jesus by her action, “I love you, I appreciate you.”
- Most others there said, “It’s a waste!”
- Jesus said, “It’s beautiful.”
Not only was it beautiful, but it was timely.
He needed to have that love expressed to Him at a time when He knew His final hours had come. The poor could benefit from help at any time, but He had only hours to live.
- Her opportunity to show love, was not wasted.
- Love is never wasted, it’s a tremendous investment, because it releases more love. As the apostle John wrote of the love of God, “We love, because He first loved us.”
- It was His initiative in sending His Son into the world to die for sinners that made some respond in love to His love and in turn be motivated to love others.
- Love gives in spite of not being appreciated. It can bring forth love in the other person. It is never wasted.
5). LOVE IS ETERNAL
So significant was this expression of love in the eyes of Jesus that He gave it eternal value, “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.” 14:9.
- Lots of important things have been done in the history of the world in human terms, but so many have faded from memory.
- But this action of the woman will never be forgotten.
- Even up to the Second Coming of Jesus, people will still be saying, “Remember the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head with costly perfume, as an expression of her love for Him?”
Our expressions of love are also eternal.
- They help change the world around us for good.
- Then they spread out to touch the lives of others, who in turn acting in love, touch more people.
- But our failure to express love shrivels us up. It shrivels the world around us and affects the lives of many people.
This is a very powerful story. But the tragedy may be, that we see it simply as a nice thing she did for Jesus.
- Judas was unmoved by such a display of love. Immediately after, he went out to betray Jesus to the chief priests.
- Jesus obviously saw it as more significant than that. The story was meant to be shared wherever the gospel is shared.
- Why? Because He knew we needed to be challenged with a human example of someone who loved.
To whom do you need to reach out in love?
Parents? They are the only parents you will ever have! They sacrificed much and risked much in bringing you into the world. They supported you as best they could in the good times and the bad times. Their own family lives may have been difficult and they may never have had a good pattern of fathering or mothering to follow, but they did their best. Praising them for the good and forgiving the not so good or even the bad, releases you to be a better parent to your own! It also provides a good pattern of parenting for your own children to follow in their family lives. St Paul wrote, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim 5:8. We mainly associate that with the responsibility of parents towards their children. But it applies also to the responsibility of children to their siblings and parents and the wider family. Perhaps financial AND emotional support!
Do you need to reach out in love to your spouse? How recently have you told him or her that you really appreciate them and deeply love them? How many negatives do they cop from your mouth before breakfast? Could you increase the positives and decrease the negatives? Perhaps get rid of the negatives altogether?
A friend? They were thoughtful and kind to you but have you ever bothered to say, “Hey. Thank you. I deeply appreciate what you did for me.”
A child? You are the only father/mother your child will ever have. You have an unique relationship with them. They are part of you. Your expressions of love to them will often mean more to them than the expressions of love given by other people.
A son in law or daughter in law? You may think that no one is “good enough” for your beloved child. But they are doing their best in most cases and need to be appreciated for every kind or thoughtful thing they do for your child. But have you bothered to notice those things or have you labelled them as “losers” and fail to see any good?
Mother in law/ father in law? Being loving to the parents of the person you married shows you appreciate your spouse and the parents who brought him/her into the world.
The woman in our story ministered to Jesus! Did He need it as the Creator of the universe and the Son of God? He deeply appreciated all she did for Him as a human and called it “beautiful!” He noticed. He cared. He communicated His love and appreciation
Well how about us? How do we go in expressing love to those to whom we should express it? Can we do it? No? But we can with God’s help.
The question is, “Will we do it?” We begin by beginning! We can love those we should love, as we allow God to fill us with His divine agape love. As Paul wrote, as we commit our lives to Jesus He can fill us with His Holy Spirit. Then His love can flow through us to those who need it, “… because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Rom 5:5.
A SUGGESTED PRAYER
“Lord fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can love other people with Your divine love. Please use me as an instrument of Your love, to bring blessing and healing into the lives of others, especially in the lives of those You are placing in my mind now and in the future. I ask it in Jesus’ name and for His sake, AMEN.”
Blog No.271. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 18th March 2018