Beauty Sandwiched by Evil

4 Feb

“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6

Humble devotion in the midst of evil deception, protected and affirmed by the Object of both.

Evil Deception

The sly and stealthy serpent wound his way through the streets of Jerusalem.  Just two days before Passover, the crowds were more excited than usual.  The Rabbi was here – the one who had healed with compassion, taught with authority, and recently called the scribes and Pharisees a brood of vipers.  And so they are looking for some sly way to arrest and kill Him.

Their hunt produced one willing – one of the Twelve.  The chief priests were delighted and promised to pay him well in pure silver.

Humble Devotion

During their plotting, in nearby Bethany, Simon’s house cradles great beauty.  The Rabbi is reclining at table just days before the greatest suffering the world has ever seen will begin, and a woman invades the meal with a spectacle.

She breaks alabaster (this is stone, not easily-shattered pottery), pushes through the men (who were leaning on an elbow, heads toward a low table, feet emanating outward like pillow fringe), and pours (it went everywhere, splashing the table, food, others) pure nard (very concentrated and highly aromatic, probably over-powering in a small room) on Jesus.  Her worship was not a quiet, unobtrusive moment with violins playing in the background.

There was no missing or ignoring her actions.  But those eating with Jesus missed her heart.  They rebuked her harshly; they yelled at her and criticized her intentions with, what they thought would have been a better use of her valuable nard.

The contrasts couldn’t be more compelling: powerful hordes of religious leaders and the inner circle of disciples opposite a single, unnamed woman; anger, power-hunger, self-righteousness, hate, criticalness, and deception juxtaposed against humble worship.  Sandwiched between the evil of the chief priests and Judas’ deception, this woman teaches the world what beautiful worship is.

Her devotion was–

  • humble and courageous.  She had to break through the social line of “no girls allowed”, knowing the men around the table wouldn’t like it one bit.  Even the women serving from another room would have been shocked at her bold inappropriateness.  If she cared what others would think, she didn’t let it stop her.
  • total.  Once she broke the alabaster, there was no mending it.  She knew before she entered the room that she would be giving it all.
  • pure.  She poured pure nard over Jesus, not a cheap or contaminated substitute.
  • intimate.  Touching the head was an intimate sign of blessing reserved for close friends and relatives.
  • public.  There was no hiding what she did from the people in the house, who, no doubt, spread the story throughout Bethany.
  • beautiful.

That she would always be remembered or that she was playing a part in the Passion of Messiah by anointing Him for burial wasn’t in her thoughts.  Jesus was.


Heart-check for Sunday:

Am I a Teacher of the Law– in my own righteousness trying to force Jesus into what I think is God’s plan?

Am I one of those around the table– criticizing others’ worship with my superior plan, while not worshiping myself?

Am I able to worship God without regard to social conventions and with unadulterated total surrender?

What would the Church look like if each believer’s ultimate goal in worshiping Him was to hear: “She has done a beautiful thing to me”?

I want to find out.


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