Matthew 26:6-13

Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.”

But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” Matthew 26:6-13

Typing these words feels like a privilege this morning. I am helping Jesus’ prediction of the future come true. One more time we are remembering the woman with the “alabaster jar of very costly ointment.”

The woman is unnamed. We don’t know anything about her. We don’t know what moved her to get that jar of ointment, where she got it, how much she spent to get it. All we know, from this story, is what she did. She anointed Jesus’ head with oil. Jesus, the Messiah, the anointed one.

Simon, the owner of the house where this happened, does have a name. Simon. Simon is the English version of the Hebrew name Shimon. Shimon comes from the Hebrew word Sh’ma which means “to listen, or hear and obey.” The most famous use of the word is probably in Deut. 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” where the Hebrew word translated “hear” is sh’ma. Simon listens to Jesus…the other disciples get angry with him.

Simon also has another name. A name he didn’t choose. A name of which he might very well have been deeply ashamed. Simon the leper. Say that aloud a time or two. Pay attention to how it sounds in your ears. Remember how lepers were treated in Jesus’ day – feared, ostracized, misunderstood. They weren’t fit for community. Yet Jesus finds a place in his home. Jesus goes there on purpose. Simon the leper is also remembered every time the story of the woman who anointed Jesus is told.

And the disciples get angry. They have a better idea. The story tells us that they think the ointment ought to have been sold and the money given to the poor. It doesn’t tell us how they felt about spending time with Jesus in the home of Simon the leper. I do wonder what they thought about that…

Jesus is also right in acknowledging that there will always be poor people. But for Jesus, this is not an “either/or” situation. It is always a “both/and.” There is time, space, and plenty for honoring and worshipping God and there is time, space, and plenty for alleviating the suffering of the poor. In fact, these do go together. For truly honoring and glorifying God leads to alleviating the suffering of the poor, finding a home among the homeless, sharing a table with the outcast or God isn’t honored or glorified in the first place.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, like Simon, we all carry the scars of our lives even if they are covered up and out of sight. Like the disciples, we often think we have a better idea of what you ought to do or what ought be done in your name. Help us be like the unnamed woman who did the best she could with what she had to demonstrate her love and submission to your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Matthew 26:6-13”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Healthy food for thought. I appreciate the manner in which you tied up the thoughts and gave them legs. I read and enjoy your daily devotion everyday..

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