The second day of Holy Week is Holy Monday. We don’t always celebrate each day, but this year we wanted to send a devotion each day to keep us all pacing this journey together. The lectionary text for today is one of beauty and adoration of Jesus.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Each gospel tells the story from a different viewpoint, with a different woman or Mary in each. But the experience is still shocking and riveting. A woman who knows Jesus and has somehow experienced his love and grace, publically kneels at his feet, pours out precious oil and anoints his feet, wiping them with her hair. To waste precious oil on feet would have been something only done for a king or for someone preparing to die. To take down one’s hair in public would have been shameful. But whoever this woman is, she doesn’t care what is said or who is watching. If it’s the sister of Lazarus, it is her deep thanks and praise for Jesus raising her brother from death. If it’s Mary Magdalene, it is a symbol of her devotion and gratitude for the new life he released in her when he healed her from her broken mental state. If it’s an unknown woman, then the more she represents us and all the unnamed things Jesus has done for us that we can’t even put into words. So, without care of repercussion, we worship and give thanks, intimately surrendered to complete adoration for this love he offers us. We cannot help but let our hair down and praise God for what the real cost of the oil may be – because no one really knows how Jesus’ love has won in our lives. CeCe Winan captures it beautifully in her song Alabaster Box as she sings, “You don’t know the cost of the oil in my alabaster box.”
As you move closer to Good Friday and Easter, what has Jesus done for you for which you are unabashedly grateful? What’s the cost of the oil you would pour out in praise to Christ? What’s holding you back from such intimate prayer and worship?
Holy God, give us the courage of this woman to pour out our praise to you. Help us to recognize all the ways you have saved us and healed us, and the significance of those moments to our life. May we let nothing and no one stand in the way of such worship, especially on this the holiest of weeks. Amen.