It’s late afternoon, early evening. Friends are arriving. And they’re some of your nearest and dearest. You know these people. You love these people. It’s an everyday sort of evening. And yet there is grimness in the air. A weightiness behind the smiles as good friends greet one another.
Your sister serves wine and you watch as your friends and brother swap stories and move to the table. As the light gets dusky and the oil lanterns are lit, you help with the meal, but your focus isn’t on serving. You stand in the door frame and watch as your brother leans in close to Jesus, the guest of honor and your dearest friend in the world. As your brother leans in close, a thought crosses your mind.
You brush it aside because it seems so outlandish, so lavish. You watch your brother speak to Jesus and as Jesus turns to your brother in the flickering light of the oil lamp, you see his eyes. They are so serious, so kind. The kindest eyes you have ever seen.
Your heart stirs and the thought is there again. But still you hesitate. It was one thing to quietly take a seat at his feet, but this is something else.
Your sister is back and forth and you don’t even notice her glare. Your eyes are on Jesus. Your heart swells in your chest and erupts into a thousand butterflies.
You slip out quietly and come back holding a pint-sized vial. Carved from gypsum, the vial is filled with the most exquisite perfume. And you are filled too. Filled to overflowing. And you know that if you fail to let this love spill out you will burst.
The men in the room are accustomed to you. They consider you a bit emotional, a bit brash in your actions, but they’ve heard Jesus defend you in the past and so they don’t object. Not yet. You step behind Jesus. And as you break open the vial, the glorious scent of the perfume begins to rise.
Over Jesus’s head you pour the perfume. It runs down his beard and before you know it you kneeling wiping his feet with your hair. The perfume mingles with your tears as you fill the room with worship.
You could have made it a private act, a personal matter. But instead, you went public. And in doing so, you brought judgement on yourself.
“Why this waste?”
“We could have sold that for 300 days’ wages.”
“We could have used the money to feed the poor.”
At Jesus’ feet you do not care. What they call waste, Jesus calls beautiful. And with the scent of worship swirling all around you know this is what you were made for. You know this is where you belong.
Our lives are busy. I know. But this weekend, would you take some time to offer Jesus the lavish gift of your time? Would you set aside an hour and simply spend it with him? If this idea is foreign to you, may I suggest that you start in the book of John and just marvel at Jesus. Or if you want to reflect more deeply on this story, you can find it in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8. What others may call a waste, Jesus calls beautiful.