The Alabaster Flask (6 Nov 2016)

Matthew 26:6
“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.”

 In the few verses following this, we see that the disciples were indignant because of what this woman had done. They felt that it was such a waste to pour away such an expensive thing. Just how costly was it? Taking a look in Mark’s gospel, the ointment that the woman poured on Jesus could have been sold for “more than three hundred denarii” (Mark 14:5). A denarius was equivalent to a day’s wage, so more than three hundred denarii would amount to almost a year’s wage! Imagine purchasing a $30 000 worth of Chanel Grand Extrait perfume (I had to google that) and then using it all at once to pour it on someone’s head. It is most unimaginable to me.

But what truly stands out in this story is how much this woman valued Jesus. Jesus was so precious to her. Going to Jesus like this by herself into someone else’s home would have brought some level of shame and awkwardness. But still, she went. Pouring such expensive ointment on Jesus would have brought judgement from others. But still, she poured. Although others disapproved of her actions, Jesus said that she had done a beautiful thing, and wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what the woman had done would be told in memory of her.

Matthew the gospel writer seems to enjoy showing comparisons through his writing. This is seen in the very same chapter of the woman who anointed Jesus. Immediately after that account, from verses 14-16, we see Judas Iscariot going to the chief priests and asking them how much they would give him if he delivered Jesus into their hands. They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and Judas accepted that amount to betray Jesus. Thirty pieces of silver, approximately the cost of a lamb at that time, was the value of Jesus to Judas.

The one same Jesus, was worth a different value in the eyes of two different people. Value can be expressed in more ways than just by how much it costs in monetary value.

We value Jesus when we choose to set aside time for Him despite our busy schedules. We value Him when we choose to obey Him even when no one else is doing it, or even when others laugh at us and think of us as foolish.

How much do we value Jesus? What is one thing we can do this week to express how precious Jesus is to us?


Sister Cherlyn Oh