Alabaster Box

Matthew 26:6–16 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 14:3-11; Luke 22:3-6; John 12:2-8)

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 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.”

Matthew 26:6-13

After Jesus’ proclamation of His impending crucifixion in chapter 25 turns the attention of Matthew’s gospel toward the passion narrative, His anointing by Mary the sister of Lazarus (identified in the Markan parallel) comes to anoint His head with very expensive perfumed ointment. A scholarly article suggests that the value of the oil was equivalent to a year’s wages for a common Roman laborer, or about $30,000.00 in today’s economy (Ottuh, 2015). This lavish gift was an indicator of the love and appreciation for the greatness of God, a powerful act of worship.

The woman’s act was criticized by the disciples, citing the potential uses of the money this oil cost, specifically referring to the fact that the poor could be provided for with this large amount of money. Jesus rebuked such thinking, and spoke of this as a symbolic anointing of His body for burial. He told them they would always be able to minister to the poor, but He would not always be with them in body. This was to point to His crucifixion and eventually to His ascension back to heaven.

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Matthew 26:14-16

Perhaps this act of lavish worship, or simply His greedy and sneeky nature, prompted Judas Iscariot to seek a deal with the chief priests to deliver Jesus to them at a time that would not arouse resistance from the crowds that had lauded Him. The infamous deal for thirty pieces of silver was struck, and Judas began to plot how he would betray Jesus. In contrast to the lavish gift of perfumed oil, Judas’ payment for betraying the Savior of the world would amount to only about $600.00 in today’s economy. How cheap for the life of the Son of God.

What would you give the Savior were He sitting right in front of you? And what gift or gratification do you receive from the world to betray or deny Christ on a daily basis? What the world offers does not compare to what a relationship with Christ offers in blessings and love. Bring an alabaster box to Christ, don’t take the world’s bag of silver. Worship, don’t betray your Lord.

Artwork from https://askgramps.org/matthew-2613-memorial-mary/

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