Tue, Apr 15, 2014
In both the 3-year series and the 1-year lectionary, Mark 14:1-15:47 is an option for the Gospel reading on Holy Tuesday. We will focus again on a smaller portion of the text.
And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
“What she has done will be told in memory of her…” Such an interesting promise from Jesus that a woman will be remembered for breaking a jar of ointment and pouring it over His head. Interestingly, Mark does not name the woman in this account. Yet, what she has done is repeatedly told in memory of her every year in the readings of Holy Week. Nameless though she may be, she is remembered. Why?
What she did seems foolish, even wasteful, to onlookers. A denarius was a day’s wage. The ointment was worth almost an entire year of wages! And she broke it open (this probably indicates that it was sealed and had never before been opened) and dumped it all over Jesus’ head! But Jesus reveals that what she did is an act of faith. An act, really, of proclamation. By anointing Jesus with this precious ointment, often used in preparing a corpse for burial, she proclaimed His death. Her actions, coupled with Jesus’ words, point us not toward her, but forward toward Jesus’ death and resurrection. What she has done is remembered year after year when the Gospel is proclaimed because it is a proclamation: When she anoints Jesus, perhaps even unknowingly, she proclaims the truth that He will die and that He will rise, and so swiftly that there will be no other chance to anoint His body. She likely was not aware of the full implications of her own actions; she simply saw the treasure that was Jesus, counted Him worthy of such an offering, and gave from the fullness of faith. And in so doing she continues to point us away from our own protestations and thoughts of what is foolish and towards that which is most precious: Jesus Christ, dead and risen for us.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, point us ever anew to Your death and resurrection and the priceless treasure we find therein, so that we may proclaim this treasure to all the world. Amen.
Heavenly Father, we ask for Your protection and peace for all those appointed to proclaim Your Gospel throughout the world, especially for all missionaries of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Grant them safety and opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to all those who need to hear it, both those within the Church and those outside of it, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.