As CNN, HUFFPOST, FOX, MSNBC, NPR (take your pick—and note they’re all in capitals) bombard us with Covid-19 statistics, opinions, news, and graphic pictures, it’s easy to slip on the gravel called fear and lose our footing. Or even choose the wide path offered by the pundits—some wise, others not so—instead of the narrow one carved out by Jesus.
Here it is the middle of Passion Week. Easter Monday and the celebration parade is over, palm branches have wilted and cloaks still smell of dust. Jesus dons the robe of an Old Testament prophet while ejecting Temple money changers. Fig trees and teaching highlight Tuesday. And now it’s Wednesday.
Most scholars believe that on this day Jesus rested. Simply rested. Away from the clamor of gathering festival crowds and plotting enemies. It’s also likely that on this day Jesus, dining in the Bethany home of one called Simon the Leper, accepts the sacrificial adoration of a woman who—according to Jesus’ own words—would be “remembered throughout the world wherever the gospel is preached.”
A woman. A woman who audaciously, counterculturally interrupts the appropriate, the conventional. Who was she? Why her action? Some texts indicate she was a “sinful” woman while others clearly state it was Mary of Bethany. Nard in an alabaster bottle? Perfume worth a year’s wages? Where did she get it? Was its intended use an investment for her future?
What strikes me is not only Jesus’ gracious acceptance of her adoration but how he transforms it into an act of extraordinary understanding of Jesus as king, priest, and savior. Women traditionally did not have such spiritual understanding but this woman crashes into the culture to anoint the one she loved, the one—she somehow comprehended—would soon die.
And to make the day complete: the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Walk today on this path with Jesus. For quiet moments, turn off, tune out blaring media. Rest with him as you imagine him resting with his friends. Inhale the fragrance of the perfume. Tomorrow you will hear him offer to wash your feet. You will grieve over Judas’ betrayal. You may misunderstand like Peter or nestle close like John. But today, just rest. Know the nearness of his presence. Hear that he loves you. Inhale adoration’s aroma.
Picture: Extravagant Love by providencefineart.com