Devotion for 6 April - What a beautiful thing
Kia Ora and good morning Cambridge Baptist and friends. Thank you all for your great feedback on our Palm Sunday Service.
Over the last few days there has been a lot of debate about whether the government made the right decision in putting up the minimum wage and doubling the winter power subsidy for the elderly last week, given how much money it take to keep the economy running during the COVID-19 crisis. Some have gone so far to say it’s a waste of much needed money. While I wouldn’t go that far, wasting money was the same complaint made against the woman who used expensive perfume to anoint Jesus' head and feet. But Jesus, response to this apparent wastage was not what his disciples expected, so let’s open the passage and see what God’s word through this Redeemer devotion has to say to us this morning.
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of 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.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
In this passage Jesus rejects the popular idea that everything comes down to a cost benefit analysis. Even though there is little doubt that money from the sale of the expensive perfume could have been used to do a lot of good things, Jesus considers her act to be a “beautiful thing”. Why? Because it is an act of worship. And he knows that your life begins or is defined or shaped by what you worship.
Worship the wrong things and nothing else will come out quite right. But worship the living God who has given himself for us in the sacrifice of Jesus and you have a new sense of what matters, and you will prioritize your life accordingly. Suddenly you find yourself “wasting” your life on Jesus by giving your life to his agenda rather than your own. That will include caring about justice for the poor.
Contrary to what is sometimes assumed, Jesus is not minimizing our responsibility to the poor in this passage. He actually is quoting from Deuteronomy 15, which encourages radical generosity to the poor. However, such generosity flows from worshiping God. First things first! Put God ahead of all else as the only one worthy of your worship and you will find you are pouring yourself out in all sorts of beautiful ways in service to the world.
Lord, too often we worship the wrong things. Help us to see that our lives are to be “wasted” on you and only then will it become something beautiful for you to use in your world. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
May God's peace and protection be on you.