Feasting with God #12
To Prepare Me for Burial
Text: Matthew 26:6-13
6Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came up with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
What gifts do you have that you can give to Jesus? He has taken all your sins on his head, and accepted the punishment that should have been yours. What can you do to repay him?
The text above finds Jesus in the home of Simon the leper, one of the many Jesus had healed while on earth. Simon, out of thanks for what Jesus had done for him, was providing his Lord a meal. And as the disciples were all there eating, this woman came in with very expensive ointment and poured it on Jesus’ head. The disciples thought this was a waste.
It would indeed be a fine and loving thing to have sold that perfume and given the money to the poor, but what this woman did was a far greater thing. She knew of Jesus, and knew what he would do for her. She had faith in him, and her faith is what drove her to pour this oil on Jesus’ head. This woman, like all the rest of us, was saved by Jesus, was granted forgiveness for all her sins, and therefore was rescued from hell. What gift could she give that was worth all that? This simple act was the greatest thing she could have done, as Jesus said, “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”
When a person died, he was prepared for burial by having some sort of perfume poured over his body. This was done mostly to mask the stink of death. And as we see later in the Gospel, after Jesus had died several women “went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared” (Luke 24:1). They were going to pour these spices and perfumes over Jesus’ body, as the tradition demanded. So this woman in our text today was planning for the same thing. Pouring the oil on Jesus’ body, she was pointing ahead to his burial.
So really, the act of this woman was an illustration proclaiming the Gospel message. By pouring the perfume over Jesus, she demonstrated his death. He would die, and he would be buried. Jesus defends her against the disciples’ disapproval, because her action points to the action he would take in saving the world. In a sense, she served as a sermon illustration for Jesus.
Do we have anything we could give Jesus that is worth the great gift he gave us? No. But Jesus doesn’t ask us to give him anything. We have that gift from him, our forgiveness, free of charge. But because this gift is so massive, we can show our thanks for it in any way we are able. Out of faith, we can give thanks by how we live our Christian lives. That may mean giving aid to the poor, but more than this, it may mean pointing to the death of Christ: telling others about the Gospel message. We can say the words of the Gospel: “Jesus Christ died for you”; and we can live as a sermon illustration, showing through our lives what that Gospel means for us.
Dear Lord Jesus, we can’t thank you enough for the great gift you have given us, winning forgiveness from sins, eternal life, and salvation. We receive this gift in faith, and we live our lives now devoted to you. Use our lives to spread the message of the Gospel, to extend your kingdom, and to bring more to forgiveness and faith. In your name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.