Every hospital drama on television includes this scene: an alarm sounds, doctors and nurses take off at a sprint, and someone ducks into a room and says something like, “We’ve got a Code Red!” Medical personnel converge at the side of a patient in a state of danger so great that for the moment all other priorities must be reordered.
No alarm cut through the air in Bethany as Jesus reclined at the table of Simon the Leper. And far from a gaggle of caregivers, just one woman came to His side. Unlike others, she recognized that Jesus was in a state so dangerous that it required other priorities, for the moment, to be reordered. Thus she took a “jar of very expensive perfume” (v. 7), generously anointing Him and filling the house with its rich fragrance.
Such extravagance seems inconsistent with the priorities Jesus had taught. Shouldn’t the money from this perfume be given to the poor? How could you reorder such priorities?
What the disciples making these objections failed to appreciate was the urgency of that moment. With Jesus’ death nearing, time was of the essence. The disciples would have plenty of time to focus on fulfilling their obligations to care for the poor (see Matt. 5:3; 25:34– 40; Phil. 4:10–19). At this time, they were allowing their concern for the good to obscure their vision for what was better and more important.
Unlike the disciples, this woman interpreted “the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). She showed her love of Jesus in the most powerful and potent way through her lavish generosity in anointing Him with perfume. We should remember her “wherever this gospel is preached” (v. 13). And we should imitate her spiritual sensitivity, devoted worship, and generous sacrifice.
Jesus suggests that some times call for an extraordinary response. Are there times or troubles in your life or the world right now that require a special outpouring of your love? Pray that God would give you the ability to discern such times and the resolve to devote the love, generosity, prayer, service, or worship needed.