Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 5: Easter Week Devotional

Day 5:  Wednesday: A Tale of Two Secrets

Matthew 26:6-9
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Some of this can be confusing - pouring perfume on someone's head sounds like a bad prank, what is this woman trying to do?

It was not uncommon for women to carry small containers of perfume around their neck.  For some it was their inheritance from parents.  For others it represented their future as it would be the only thing of value that  they would bring into marriage one day.  Either way, the perfume was very valuable as it represented the past or the future for a young woman.
This particular container of perfume was very costly.  It was what we might value at $30,000.  
Hold up.
That is a lot of money.  
Just in case you forgot, this is what $30,000 can buy:
   * This home in St. Petersburg, FL
   * This BMW - a brand new 328i
   * This 4K piece of jewelry.

Granted, $30,000 doesn't mean your entire life is set, but it is a nice little chunk of change.  You can have a lot of fun with $30,000.

This woman broke the bottle and poured it on Jesus' head - a sign of deep respect back then.  There was no putting it back in the bottle.  All of her past and all of her future were broken to honor Jesus.  For her it wasn't so much about the money - it was about giving up a piece of herself.  
Nothing was more important than showing Jesus her love for Him.  It is tragically touching.
Something in me wonders if she knew what was about to happen to Jesus.  The Gospels don't record every detail of every event.  I wonder if she had a conversation with Jesus and in her own way she expressed her grief in the noblest way she could imagine.  She was preparing Him for burial.

I am almost certain she kept this idea a secret until she did it.  Anyone hearing about this idea would have tried to talk her out of it.  I mean, look at the reaction: "This could have been sold and the money given to the poor!"  John records Judas is the one who is most outraged in his Gospel.
And there is Judas . . . another plot in secret.

Remember, the Jewish authorities were looking for a way to arrest Jesus at night so they could take Him into custody without a riot.  Knowing this, Judas was working on a secret deal to let them know where Jesus was Thursday night.   He agreed to 30 pieces of silver (about $7,000-$15,000).  For half as much Judas sold Jesus out.

Two very different pictures . . . and very different people:

One person who sunk a small fortune to show her devotion.
One person who gained a nice bonus in exchanged for his integrity.

Sometimes we gauge the value of something by what we get out of it.  What am I getting out of this relationship?  What am I getting out of this job?  What am I getting for all the money I put into this car?  What am I getting out of this church or this school?

What does value look like when we measure how much we can give to it?  Is it possible that we only follow Jesus around for the carrot of eternal life?  Are you like the woman who would do anything for God?  Or are you more like Judas who is looking for what you can get out of it all?  If I am honest, there are times that I think more about what my relationship with God can get me versus what I can give to God.

Maybe that is why Jesus wants her story to be told every time His story is told.  It is haunting how much she understood.  She gets it even more than the disciples at this point that true value is found in how much we give, not in how much we get.

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