The anointing at Bethany
Read: Mark 14.3-9
Money plays a bigger part in the Easter story than most of us have probably imagined. In this story unnamed dinner guests object to the woman’s wasteful use of money that could have been given to the poor. In John’s account. It’s Judas who is said to have raised this objection. For some it remains difficult to hear Jesus’ reply that the woman was right to ‘waste’ her love on him, and that you’ll always have poor people you can be generous towards.
Right at the moment there’s a lot of talk about prioritizing resources. We hear dreadful stories from Italy of older people being denied ventilators in favour of the young and the healthy. And perhaps they have made the right decisions. For me it’s instructive that this woman invested her money in an act of worship towards Jesus, rather than in doing something for others in Jesus’ name. Perhaps both are important if we are to be people in Jesus’ image.
The church has always been full of social justice warriors critical of cathedrals and priestly stipends. Sometimes with good cause! But this act of ‘wastefulness’, says Jesus, “will be told [and presumably repeated] wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world”.
My Scripture Union notes point out that the only motivation attributed to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus in the Bible is money (Mark 14.11 etc). It’s speculation, but perhaps having seen Jesus commend this woman for ‘wasting’ so much money, he despairs of Jesus and is tempted to betray him - for money. This woman’s wasteful love stands in absolute contrast to Judas’ greedy betrayal of his Lord.
What act of wasteful love might you pour on Jesus this Easter?
Sing or Pray:
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.