Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
I was once meeting with a group of leaders at a small church and I said something along the lines of, “Tell me something you would like to see this church accomplish.” There was a brief pause and then one of the leaders said, “We have always wanted to get a hand rail installed on the front steps.” I felt like I had asked, “What does 2 plus 2 equal?” and someone had answered, “Jello.” It was a matter of mindset.
In today’s passage, we encounter a broad spectrum of mindsets.
The chief priests and teachers were scheming and wanted to murder Jesus. They were so spiritually dead and mired in sin that they no longer had a conscience.
Simon the Leper had invited Jesus into his home. Had Jesus healed this man of leprosy?
The complainers had so little spiritual depth that the woman’s act was incomprehensible to them. They considered her act of worship a “waste.” They “rebuked her harshly” for what she had done for Jesus.
Jesus, who saw a deep spiritual significance behind her act – preparing Him for burial. Contrary to current thinking, Jesus also showed that social justice is not his only concern. Jesus cares deeply about the daily needs of the poor and needy, but He also cares deeply about spiritual truth and growth. Jesus also looks for our worship and devotion.
Judas saw an opportunity to exploit the situation. For 3 years, Judas had experienced life with Jesus and a group of disciples, but Judas’ heart did not truly belong to Jesus. There will always be those in and around the church only to exploit the church.
The woman was so filled with complete devotion to Jesus that she poured out her treasure as an act of worship.
The others judged the right or wrong of the woman’s act. It was like Jesus and the woman were on a completely different and higher plain. Growing spiritually is evidenced by an ever-increasing level of devotion. Those with that type of devotion also experience increased clarity about right and wrong and increased strength from the Holy Spirit to do the right and avoid the wrong. Holy living can only be birthed out of a holy devotion.