Though she intended it to be all about Him, somehow it would also become about her. Though she only wanted to honor Him, He determined to also honor her. Though she wasn’t looking to establish a legacy, yet she gained one. Though she didn’t do it for recognition, wherever the good news would be proclaimed concerning her Master, she too would be remembered. All because she did a beautiful thing.
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to Him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to Me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have Me. In pouring this ointment on My body, she has done it to prepare Me for burial. Truly, 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.”
(Matthew 26:6-13 ESV)
For me, it’s one of the most moving and holy moments in all of Scripture. A simple act with a profound implication. A costly act, the aroma of which — quite literally — would not only fill that house, but would remain through His death and, I’m thinking, His resurrection. The living, resurrected Christ, would carry the essence of this woman’s worship with Him.
John’s gospel (John 12:1-8) tells us the woman was Mary, sister of Martha the server, and of Lazarus the undead. He tells us it was a pound of expensive ointment and that not only did she pour it on the Master’s head, but she also anointed His feet with it, wiping His feet with her hair. In John’s account, he also records Jesus’ defense of her actions — that it was done in anticipation of His death, something which, though He foretold it frequently, none of them could make sense of. But Matthew also records Jesus’ evaluation of such a sacrificial and worshipful act . . . “she has done a beautiful thing to Me.”
I don’t often think about something a man or woman doing having an impact on God. Don’t consider how the material can show up on the radar of the eternal. Don’t wonder much about what we do on earth stirring the hearts of heaven. But I’m guessing that we might be surprised at what we may discover of other “beautiful things” which have been taken notice of by the King. Acts of worship . . . acts of service . . . deeds done not to gain favor but because abundant favor has already been won.
And I kind of long for more of the heart of that woman with the alabaster flask of expensive ointment. Someone unhindered in her extravagant worship. Someone who only had eyes for her Savior. Someone who, though without fully understanding all of what it would accomplish and how, determined to honor Him in His death in an over-the-top manner. Someone who would fill the house with a sweet smelling aroma of which heaven would take notice.
O’ to honor Jesus with a beautiful thing.
By His grace . . . for His glory.