Broken and Poured Out

anointed And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at 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 three hundred 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 always have the poor with you, and wheneveryou 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

So to summarize: A costly vessel was broken, a precious substance poured out, something valuable was given away but not wasted. 

Jesus rebuked those who reprimanded the woman. In the first place, their complaint about what could have been done for the poor was merely lip service. Jesus pointed out that the poor are always with them and they could do something for them at any time. He explained what this woman was really doing was anointing his body for burial. Three times he explained to the disciples, in plain speech without using parables, that he would suffer and be killed. They would only fully understand after the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus knew God’s plan, perhaps even that his body would be taken down form the cross hastily as the Sabbath approached and placed in the tomb without first being anointed. We know the story of the women coming on the first day of the week to anoint his body and finding the tomb empty. Even though we don’t know this woman’s name, Jesus even explains that wherever the Gospel message is spread what she has done will be told in memory of her.

It was very short period of time later that Jesus was arrested and tried. He was scourged by Pilot who was hoping the angry mob of Jews would be pacified. Jesus was further mocked, struck and spat on before being nailed to the cross. Crucifixion was a long, slow, painful process that sometimes took days to kill the condemned. On Friday afternoon, the day of Preparation, Roman soldiers were braking the legs of those being crucified so they could be taken down and not hang on their crosses during the Sabbath (John 19:31-37). When they came to Jesus they found him already dead. One of the soldiers pierced his side, to make sure, and the Bible says blood and water came out. The Son of God was dead, killed by the hands of the very people he came to seek and to save. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Col 1:19-20

In other words: A costly vessel was broken, a precious substance poured out, something valuable was given away… but not wasted. 

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:11-14

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