Holy Week: Wednesday

In Holy Week by Stuart Owens

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he told his disciples, “You know that the Passover takes place after two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the courtyard of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus in a treacherous way and kill him. “Not during the festival,” they said, “so there won’t be rioting among the people.”

While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman approached him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She poured it on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This might have been sold for a great deal and given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a noble thing for me. 11 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me. 12 By pouring this perfume on my body, she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they weighed out thirty pieces of silver for him. 16 And from that time he started looking for a good opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 26:1-16, CSB

Time is wearing thin. Jesus knows that soon His death is coming. Even sooner, comes His time to be betrayed by one of the men He poured His life into for the past three years. The passage begins with Jesus telling the disciples of what’s to come. 

I think it is significant to look at Jesus’s words on the specific timing of His betrayal. Even as Jesus was speaking these words, the priests and elders were plotting to find a way to arrest and kill Him. Yet, they waited. An arrest would cause a great uproar in the middle of a feast as grand as the Passover. They wanted their time to bring justice against this man who was blasphemous and going against everything the law said. But it wasn’t time. Jesus knew that and His word held true. That’s significant looking into the next part of our passage today too. 

The scene shifts to Jesus visiting someone at their house, when we are introduced to a woman. No name, no description–just a woman. And we are told how she takes a jar of priceless perfume and pours it over Jesus. More than likely, this was at least a year’s worth of wages–a remarkable act of faith and love. 

Yet the disciples don’t respond with awe or agreeance. They are immediately disgusted with her wastefulness in it all saying  ‘there is a better way for this to be done! She should’ve seen this coming; she could’ve given its profits away to the poor.’ These men know the better right? They’ve spent countless hours right by His side-surely they know! 

I think there is a lot to be learned from the reaction of the disciples because I think if you look deeper into their response, it reflects an outcry of the heart: a yearning to do good, in order to be seen. Just as the Pharisees held tight to the law that they had known, what had been passed down from generations, and missed what was right in front of them-so the disciples missed the chance to learn from this woman’s humility and faith. Jesus was right in front of them. Jesus. In the flesh. Yet, they were looking, I daresay, to impress with their knowledge of how to do good instead of spending time at the feet of the best thing that was right before them. 

And Jesus says, “Hey, no. Look at this woman’s faith. Wherever the gospel is proclaimed, her story will be there also.” Yet again, His words are true. He means what He says. Though we don’t even know her name–how much more are those heroic actions talked about, as her story is right before the events that lead to Jesus’ death. 

How much more does her story shine? What if that act of faith and love wasn’t placed in this story right before Jesus was betrayed? Or if that perfume would’ve just been sold and just given to the poor? This story holds a precious spot right before the betrayal. She prepared the way, and her story lives on as the Gospel is shared. 

Where is your heart? I encourage you to look deeper at your desire to do good. Know that each step, each moment, and each decision you make does hold weight-you are significant! Are you in pursuit of doing good, to pour out your life at the feet of Jesus so that it all points to Him? Or are you hoping to make it, to get it right, to do what you’re supposed to do? Your story and legacy will echo with power if you allow it to be poured out to continuously point to Him. You are a significant piece of someone’s story. And they will know we belong to Jesus by our love of Him.