I remember playing pickup basketball one day at the YMCA when we lived in South Carolina when a couple of guys came in to play. Teams were being picked and we were deciding who was going to guard who and no one wanted to guard one of the guys so I said I would. I didn’t recognize him, but it turned out he was David Thompson—a future NBA hall of famer and one of only six people to score 70 points or more in a professional game. Needless to say, I was on the wrong side that day.
When Jesus was anointed with expensive perfume by a woman prior to his crucifixion, His disciples criticized her actions. They argued that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus didn’t dispute their basic premise (that the poor were in need) but instead addressed the timeliness of the woman’s action. The poor would continue to be among them while He was going away. The woman had effectively prepared His body for burial (Matthew 26:12). She had done something “beautiful” for Him (v. 10). Anyone objecting to that was clearly on the wrong side.
We don’t know anything about the woman’s stance on the resurrection, her take about John’s baptism or what she did or didn’t do on the Sabbath. All of those things would have mattered but none of them would have changed the fact that she did a beautiful thing for Jesus. Christ once said that anyone giving a cup of cold water to a disciple of His would not lose their reward (10:42). Whatever was done for Him or His was not going to be forgotten!
The beauty of the woman’s gift was that is was highly personalized. It was uniquely from her and for Him. The perfume was likely the most valuable thing she owned. In Mark’s account the disciples said that it was worth more than a year’s wages. You couldn’t carry something that valuable around with you—it could be lost, stolen or broken. It would be kept at home in a secure place. When the woman heard Jesus was at the home of Simon, she made the decision to bring it, break it and empty the jars’ contents on Him. The scalp that would soon experience the soldiers mashing thorns into it, first knew the tender touch of the woman’s hands. The cheek that would burn with the kiss of betrayal first experienced the sweet-scented mixture dripping down it. We don’t know her name, but we know what she did that day and we who love Jesus are forever in gratitude to this woman for the actions she took that day.