Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.
4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.
6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
– Mark 14:3-11
During these pandemic days things we take for granted become so very precious. Who would have thought that a roll of paper towels would be worth more than a week’s wages? OK, perhaps I exaggerate just a bit. But paper towels, toilet paper, and eggs are in high demand. I understand eggs, but paper towels?
An even greater disconnect comes as we look at the events of Spy Wednesday – the traditional name for this day of Holy Week. Perhaps it ought to be called Price Wednesday. For on this day, Judas was concerned about the cost of two things: the ointment being used on Jesus by the woman here, and his pay for betraying Jesus.
So just how much is Jesus worth to you? What price would you put on his head? What would it take to betray him? Before you answer too quickly, consider the little betrayals we do daily. We use Jesus’ name in vain: a betrayal of his true identity. We hold a grudge: a betrayal of his forgiveness to us. We lash out in anger against our spouse: a betrayal of his love for all people. We give into temptations of lust: a betrayal of Jesus’ honor of all people.
But at least we know better. And when we realize this, we think of something else: the price Jesus paid to redeem us. For we were not purchased and won from sin, death, and the power of the devil with gold or silver, but with the holy precious blood of Jesus, and his innocent suffering and death. Jesus paid the ultimate price for us and for our salvation.
Perhaps that will move us to extraordinary gifts in honor of him. A large offering to our local church, the local social ministry, or an important national or international mission effort.
To get really specific, some of us will not need the government stimulus money that will soon magically arrive in our bank accounts. I’m not sure how much of a sacrifice it would be to give that up. But I know that hearts that have been claimed by the one who paid the ultimate sacrifice will want to share the wealth in such a way to bring honor to Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your ultimate sacrifice for us and our salvation. We ask now that you would remind us of this great gift and its great cost. Help us to honor you in everything we do, think, and say. Help us, also, in this battle against this brutal disease. Restore our health, we pray. We will continue to honor you through these difficult times, knowing that you love us and have us fully in your care. Amen.