And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His Head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, 'Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.' And they criticized her sharply.
But Jesus said, 'Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My Body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this Gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.'
Six days before the Last Supper, Jesus enjoyed an evening in Bethany among friends, including Lazarus and his sisters. This meal is recorded by Matthew, Mark and John.* Why? Because of its importance to His future church, which these followers would establish.
Because of what happened after dinner; it involved a calling and a complaint. The calling for was Mary.** She broke a jar of extremely expensive perfume and anointed Jesus with its oil and her tears. God gave her a vision and a mission. She performed it.
The disciples of Jesus complained.*** According to them, if Mary wanted to do God's work, she should do it a different way. She should sell the perfume and give the proceeds to the poor. They did not understand her calling, so they criticized her sharply.
The future leaders of the church of Jesus Christ were tempted to become protocol police: 'If you're not working according to church customs, you're working wrong.'
But that was the problem with the Pharisees: Religion became a protocol. Rules became a prison. Worship became a building, and good news was insider information.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Jesus said Mary's act would never be forgotten. She didn't do it for fame, but she became famous anyway. She did it for love. She did it because God gave her a vision.
God gave you a vision, too: a world where clean entertainment and good examples would be evident; a world where kids are protected and innocence is cherished; a world where stars aren't idols and fans aren't merchandise; a world where truth is not relative and morality is not a joke; a world where the church is not defined by rules and walls, but by love and outreach.
In the 21st century church of God, protocol police must shed their uniforms and release their batons. Because without the covering of Jesus, we're just plain naked and defenseless. Religious protocols are an unacceptable covering. God's all about newness.
'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new' (2 Corinthians 5:17).
To Be Continued...
* Matthew 26:6-13: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+26%3A6-13&version=NKJV; John 12:1-8: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+12%3A1-8&version=NKJV
** Either Magdalene or Martha's sister. Scholarly opinions differ.
*** The accounts of Matthew and Mark mentions the complaint of multiple disciples, but John singles out Judas Iscariot.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Dream Haters series.