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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


The Extravagance of Love

Oct. 20, 2013

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. (Mark 14:3, NIV)

There are two times recorded in the Gospels when Jesus had perfume poured on Him.

Luke records the first instance, when a sinful woman poured an alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus’ feet while He reclined at table in the home of Simon the Pharisee and then wiped His feet with her hair (Luke 7:36-50). This occurred fairly early in Jesus’ ministry.

Mark, as well as Matthew and John, records this second occasion. A woman poured an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head as He reclined at table in the home of Simon the Leper (see Matthew 26:6-13 and John 12:1-8). This anointing occurred just three days before His crucifixion.

John’s Gospel identified Mary as the woman who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:3). Most likely this Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She lived in the same village, Bethany, as Simon the Leper.

The anointing by the unnamed woman in the home of Simon the Pharisee was heavily criticized by other Pharisees present at that dinner, just as the disciples of Jesus also criticized the woman in the home of Simon the Leper. The difference between the two women results from their motives. The first one came because she had led a sinful life and had been forgiven much. The second woman appears to have no other motive than her love for Jesus.

As we look at the anointing recorded in Mark’s Gospel, we recognize that although Jesus’ opponents were looking for a way to kill Him (vv. 1, 2), He is very much relaxed as He reclines at table. What an example for us who face potentially life-threatening or stressful circumstances! Just three days from His agonizing death, Jesus shows no sign of anxiety, worry or dread. Amazing!

The home in which Jesus dines also raises eyebrows. Simon the Leper? Was this someone whom Jesus healed and was still being referred to as a leper, or did he currently have the disease? Certainly, the chief priests and teachers of the Law would not have stayed in such a house; but Jesus is equally at home with Simon the Pharisee or Simon the Leper.

Jesus makes friends with unlikely people. And so must we! If we hang out only with people we know or of whom others approve, how can our light shine in a dark world?

In a home that was not on the “religiously approved” list of the day, another incident occurs that brings offense — this time, not to Jesus’ opponents, but to His own friends. Without prior notice a woman dumps a jar of very expensive perfume on His head. Did Jesus see her approach and choose not to stop her, or did she sneak up on Him? Mark does not tell us.

But we do know the gift is lavish! It is much harder to receive a gift than to give one. Yet, Jesus makes no move to stop her. We need to be as gracious as Jesus when others bestow on us something totally unexpected and generous. There is a grace not only in giving, but in receiving. Jesus demonstrates both kinds of grace.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, You gave lavishly for me. May I give the very best to You.

DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.



On Your Mark

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