Hello My Name Is… (week 3) Woman with Perfume
Happy Sunday Everyone! It has been really interesting jumping to the New Testament this week and looking at a woman who is spoken about almost every Easter in the preparations for that special day. Often the same thing is said about her every year, and so I was really looking forward to stepping into her shoes – were you? Our verse this week was:
“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.” Matthew 26:6-7
Extravagance in action
When reading this verse, the first thing that jumped out at me was the extravagance of what this woman is doing. In a culture where we are being made to think more about how wasteful we are, this seems very wasteful. And a culture where oil and perfume are not used in the same symbolic way, it just seems like a down right odd thing to be doing! But that was not the case then. Yes this was an expense outpouring, but to pour oil or perfume or other things would not have been out of the ordinary then – it was called anointing.
Anointing for a reason
Anointing was a ritual act performed for many varied reasons. One reason was hospitality – to show someone that they were welcomed in that place. Others included to introduce a divine influence or presence, to rid people of dangerous spirits, to mark someone out as holy, to refresh or invigorate the person, or before people were buried. There could be many of those reasons that this woman is using to anoint Jesus in that moment – lots of people say it was to prepare him for his death and burial, but she could just as easily be showing him hospitality.
In HER Shoes
When we tried to step into her shoes this week, we all came back with differing opinions as to why we thought she was doing this. Gratitude, devotion, showing Jesus how precious he was to her. So many reasons are possible, and one thing is for sure, it certainly took quite a bit of boldness for her to step out and do this. She must have really sensed and known that this was what she should do – whether God put that desire in her heart to honour Jesus in that moment and worship him through this act, or it was just an idea of her own, it is still a very bold moment. She would have known that there would be comments and lots of eyes looking at her, even if it was more normal for anointing to happen at that time. She was putting herself out there for the sake of Jesus, to love him and show him something deeper than words could. That to me is inspirational. How often do we chicken out of doing something big and showy for God because we are afraid of the eyes looking at us, the opinions, the judgements of others?
We are staying with this story for one more week, and I think this verse will answer the question “why was she included but not named?”.
“Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26: 10 and 13
I will be starting to unpack this verse in our weekly Facebook Live video over in the Facebook Group at 9pm on Monday night so please join me – I’d love to hear what your opinion is on this unnamed woman in the bible.