Day 43 Lent 2016

Holy Week in Real Time: Wednesday

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Mark 14:3-11, Matthew 26:14-16, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13

BY Russ Ramsey

On the Wednesday before His death, Jesus was still. Though Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of Holy Week were filled with harrowing experiences that seemed to be drawing Him ever nearer to His death, on Wednesday Jesus stayed out of the public eye.

On this day, Jesus and His disciples had gone to the home of a man in Bethany known as Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6). Simon belonged to a growing part of the population known not for their accomplishments, but for what was wrong with them. It was a difficult life, but it must also have been strangely liberating since the first thing people learned about Simon was his broken past. Simon lived among the few who did not have to pretend to be what they were not. He was Simon, the leper. People could choose his company or reject it, but that was who he was.

In Simon’s home, during their meal together, Mary of Bethany, Lazarus’ sister, came to Jesus with an alabaster flask of perfume (Mark 14:3). She had been saving this perfume, worth a year’s wages, to perform this very act.

She began to pour the perfume on Jesus’ head and feet, which required breaking open its container. Like popping the cork on a $20,000 bottle of champagne, Mary intentionally and deliberately offered Jesus everything she had. By giving Him her most valuable possession, Mary was expressing that she knew what Jesus was about to give of Himself was for her.

The disciples reacted like many men often do. They considered the value of her perfume and regarded her actions as though she might as well have been burning a year’s wages in a bread oven. But they dressed their indignation up in the noble auspices of concern for the poor: Think of the poor people who could have benefited from the sale of this perfume (Mark 14:4-5).

But this was not how her actions hit Jesus. He came to her aid. What Mary is doing is beautiful, He said to them (Mark 14:6).

Appreciate the doctrinal principle here. The perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages, but what is perfume for? Is it merely a commodity Mary should have held on to in the event that she needed to cash it in? Is this how God would expect her to regard this valuable resource?

Apparently not. Perfume is meant to be poured out, released into the air until it is gone, in order to fill the room with its beautiful and startling aroma. So Mary breaks open the jar and the scent electrifies the senses of everyone present, and Jesus says it is beautiful.

Everything in creation testifies to a Creator who delights in beauty for beauty’s sake. So many things that are beautiful didn’t need to be. And it was God who elected to make them that way. He opted to make autumn a season saturated with bold, changing color. He didn’t have to make the setting sun the spectacle that it is. But He did. Why?

One reason must be because beauty pleases Him. And another may simply be to arrest people by their senses when they’re otherwise just plodding along, heads down, living within the economy of pragmatism.

What Mary did that day was beautiful and Jesus wanted everyone to know it. She was preparing Him for burial. There was honor and kindness in her gesture. He returned the honor by saying history would never forget her act of beauty (Mark 14:8-9). And we haven’t.

written by Russ Ramsey
adapted from Behold the King of Glory

Post Comments (15)

15 thoughts on "Holy Week in Real Time: Wednesday"

  1. Isaac Jones says:

    God is the only salvation from sin, and the enemy. We must put our faith in the Gospel; it is our responsibility and choice.

  2. Isaac Jones says:

    I will be faithful and not serve money over Christ.

  3. Isaac Jones says:

    Man is open to infiltration by satan; only God and keep man safe. Judas walked and talked with God (Like Adam and Eve), but still He betrayed Him. Knowing God and experiencing the presence of God do not make a Christian. A Christian is marked by the obedience of faith.

  4. Isaac Jones says:

    Gods will is done; and God may even bring about His purposes by way of wicked people, but wow to the wicked who practice their wickedness for their judgement is upon them.

  5. Isaac Jones says:

    Heavenly Father,

    Please keep me from the enemy; protect my heart and mind from the warping of deceit and vanity. May I honor you with my life in Spirit and in truth, sacrificing my body and pride for the cause. Thank you for the salvation you have delivered and the life you maintain. May Your Spirit sustain me; amen.

  6. Patrick Shen says:

    Our hearts naturally build out towards pragmatism steeped in self service. If lead by the Holy Spirit man can see the beauty of God in the foolish and the unexpected. I wonder if pragmatism moved judas to action.

  7. Patrick Shen says:

    God sees our heart and intentions. Practicality is not always the order of the day, and God is wholly aware of what it means to be loved and adored with what we consider our best.

  8. Patrick Shen says:

    I will release my life’s treasures to be poured out to God as a fitting gift worthy of Jesus. But I will also remember that this act of Mary was a act of preparing Jesus for his death in the cross for our sins. This act itself carries a sober and weighty sense of beauty,

  9. Patrick Shen says:

    The hope of Jesus and the gospel should draw us into Spirit lead acts of beauty and what the world would consider foolishness. This a what God considers noteworthy.

  10. Patrick Shen says:

    God, all that I have and will be is yours. Thank you for the path you walked to the cross. Help my life to be a proper and pleasing gift to you. May the cost of anything I can give be measured to the costly price you paid for me.

  11. Noah Stephens says:

    I’m reminded that we have a strange, saddening tendency to take our eyes off what is wonderful, noble, and beautiful, and only focus on what is practical for our own worldly gain.

  12. Noah Stephens says:

    The love of God, which drove him to give his son for us, is alive and full of joy, wishing that we would experience the beauty of life along with him.

  13. Noah Stephens says:

    God values and loves beauty for the sake of beauty itself, and is calling us to lift our eyes, and appreciate and enjoy the beauty that is around us.

  14. Noah Stephens says:

    I will take moments to settle my mind and appreciate the beauty of what or who is in front of me, and I will eliminate distractions so that I can fully experience these moments.

  15. Noah Stephens says:

    I will ask God to give me eyes to see the beauty in taking time and energy to love others, and to take my focus off of myself.

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