Scripture Reading: Mark 14:3-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13
I have always found sacrificing comes easily for me. It is the keeping of a good thing that feels so tenuous. I am always positive God is going to ask for the precious things, the most precious things, and so before I can be disappointed by their abrupt departure, I toss them into what I perceive to be His hands. Take my life, take all I am and all I will be, all I have and will have, is my oft-whispered prayer. This exercise, though, is less noble than it sounds at first—more the actions of a pauper unaccustomed to God’s goodness than a daughter of the Most High God.
What does it mean to hold on to a thing until the act of pouring it out is actually noble, actually costly? Even if the thing itself is held dear or is worth much, what does it mean to reserve it for the essence of its purpose instead of wasting it in dribbles and drops like a careless child carrying a cup of milk? How do we know what the difference between wasting a thing and pouring out a thing is, especially when they look so much the same?
The answer to all of these questions lies not in the vial of costly perfume nor the woman in this story, but in the Man over whose head she poured herself: Jesus, the perfect, all-sufficient, timely sacrifice, the one of greatest cost, greatest worth, and greatest value, pouring Himself out over the soon to die, decaying flesh of humankind.
This act of nobility Jesus pointed to was to redirect the incredulous gaze of the disciples for whom nobility looked like the rule and reign of an earthly king. Jesus wanted to show, once again, that nobility in the kingdom of heaven was the opposite of the expected norms. This broken woman pouring her broken flask over the soon to be broken body of her Savior—this is the way of the kingdom of God, Jesus was saying. Hers is a true act of generosity. “She has done a noble thing for me,” He tells them (Mark 14:6).
God saved His precious expression of Himself in flesh for the most opportune moment, the best moment. He saved the costliest offering for the moment of maximum impact. The Bible says, “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). As this woman poured her alabaster flask over the head of her Savior, we are shown a picture of the emptying of a good thing for the best one, the greatest exchange: Christ’s death for our life.
Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.