September 12

Text: Matthew 26:6-9

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it upon His head as He reclined at the table.  But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste?  For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor."   (NASB)

The cast of friends who surrounded Jesus the last week of his physical life composed an interesting group.  The overwhelming majority of the 12 were Galileans.  They included a betrayer, a denier, one who doubted Jesus’ resurrection, and all who ran away.  The cast included a man Jesus raised from the dead along with his two sisters, and the women who accompanied him from Galilee to take care of him (and the 12). That group of women included a woman who had evil spirits but who was miraculously healed by Jesus.  There was the woman who anointed Jesus.  There was also Simon the leper.  Without doubt, those who follow Jesus today also form an interesting group.

Simon was a common name.  “The leper” likely denoted a past condition.  Note that the “now when” does not designate a specific time.  It just helps denote where this anointing occurred.  On this occasion, Jesus ate in the customary reclined position.  The lady anointed Jesus’ head with an expensive perfume.

Matthew said the disciples indignantly complained that this was a wasteful act which benefitted no one.  They said at least this expensive perfume could have been sold in order to help the poor.  It could be assumed that the least the disciples did was criticize this woman for what they regarded to be an extravagant act.  Note an act the disciples viewed as a foolish waste was viewed by Jesus as a considerate deed that would not be forgotten.

Humans are very poor discerners of motives.  We are much more likely to focus on the “what” than the “why.”  Countless divisive arguments have arisen among Christians over buildings, furnishings, parking lots, colors, methods, and procedures.   We assume God is only concerned with results and never with motives. 

Does God consider a person’s reasons, or not?

Suggestion for reflection: When does perfume smell sweet to God and horrible to us?  (Read 2 Chronicles 30:8-20.)

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