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Monday, March 25, 2013

Were you there........when Jesus was anointed?


“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than 300 denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you will always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9

On this anointing of Jesus, contemporary Ugandan theologian Emmanuel Katongole has written, “She represents the ‘rebel consciousness’ that is essential to Jesus’ gospel. Wherever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make you crazy. Jesus will put you at odds with the economic and political systems of our world. This gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways that make even pious people indignant.”


Were you there........when Jesus was anointed?

You might be thinking – we’ve looked at this story recently and you would be correct. Two Sunday's ago it was the reading set for Lent 5 where John places the story at Bethany the day before Palm Sunday.
Mark in his gospel places it after Palm Sunday – in Holy Week.
It  might well be 2 different stories both at Bethany.
John’s takes place in Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ home. Mark's account is set in the home of Simon the Leper.
That opens up a whole can of worms!!! He’s a leper – is he cured or not? Why not Simon  who used to be a leper or who Jesus cured of leprosy (Mary Magdalene is often described as the woman who Jesus had delivered of 7 demons)
If he suffers from leprosy – everything in the house is unclean and makes everyone else unclean.

Then ..... a women comes in with an alabaster flask… ?
We don’t know her name – some speculate (based on similar accounts in the other gospels) she might have been a prostitute who invested her income well, but would still be a nameless person.
If she were a respectable women, she would have been named – especially as this story is going to be told everywhere, says Jesus.
All this just makes the story more complicated, doesn't it?

We’d like her to be respectable, because for the most part we like to surround ourselves with respectable people – we tend to keep ourselves and our children away from "unrespectable" people. Look around you in our sanctuary this evening....how many "unrespectable" people do you see

But there’s the problem – Jesus says “I didn’t really come for respectable people – healthy people don’t need a doctor… I didn’t come for people who are in anyway like me.”

So there’s a chance this story is taking place in the home of a diseased outcast who is visited by a very wealthy whore.

How does that make us feel – that’s the company that Jesus seems to have preferred to keep (unlike the religious hypocrites of His day).
Then the conversation moves to the poor........ another group of outcasts...... as the pious disciples (notice it’s not just Judas) find it necessary to point out that this is a waste.

And Jesus says “you will always have the poor with you… and whenever you want, you can do good for them.”
How often do Jesus disciples do ‘good for the poor’ today?

Notice she anoints Jesus on his head – this was something that was only done for a King. Yesterday we saw that one of the God intended consequences of Palm Sunday is that we recognize Him as our King.
This nameless women does just that........... so I think she was there when they laid palms at His feet.

And as I suggested yesterday...... it changes her......you and me.....when we realise that we were there!
And it makes her a little bit crazy. Remember the quote from the beginning?
“She represents the ‘rebel consciousness’ that is essential to Jesus’ gospel. Wherever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make you crazy. Jesus will put you at odds with the economic and political systems of our world. This gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways that make even pious people indignant.”

Reflect – when last did the gospel make you do something crazy?

When next will the gospel make you do something crazy?

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