A Word on Worship

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. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,”* said Jesus. ”Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” ~ Mark 14:3-9

Jesus is dining at the table. A woman enters the house. She pours a very expensive perfume on Jesus. Some in the room are offended. The perfume is described as pure nard-based perfume. This perfume in the first century Judaism is most often reserved for a woman’s wedding day. A pint of it would be worth up to a year’s wages. The other gospels record that it was Judas who was offended by the act. In effect he calls it a waste of money. The money could have been used to help the poor.

It should be noted that the woman’s action was an extravagant act of worship. It was an act of devotion. She took the most priceless gift she had and gave it. She poured it out on Jesus. It was an act of total devotion and love. Sometimes other people are uncomfortable with extravagant worship. Too emotional. Too over the top.

It is somewhat ironic when you see the context of this story. The woman gives the most expensive priceless gift she has in an act of worship. In contrast immediately after this moment Judas goes and betrays Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver. The worship with a priceless gift versus a betrayal for 30 pieces of silver. Her act of worship exposes the poverty of Judas and the poverty of his personal selfish agenda.

It also stands out to me that there is lingering power to this fragrance. In all likelihood this perfume remained with Jesus through his arrest. His trials. As he stands before Pilate. Pilate would have been aware of it. In His beatings and crucifixion. As the Roman soldiers carried out their duties as executioners there was this sweet aroma of pure nard. They couldn’t help but be aware of this aroma. As they stripped Jesus of his clothes the only thing Jesus wore was the sweet fragrance of this woman’s worship.  Three days later when the women ran to the tomb and stepped inside in all probability the aroma of this extravagant worship still lingered as the truth of the resurrection begins a reality.

It is my prayer that the legacy of my life linger in the lives of those I love the most. I pray that my life would be a sweet aroma of worship to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. That I worship him with all my heart. My soul and my mind. In his holy name amen.