Today is Preparation Wednesday.
Actually, it’s not officially Preparation Wednesday. Instead, today has been deemed Spy Wednesday by the masses.
Yes, today is the day that Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ insiders, met with religious leaders to strike a deal that would result in Jesus’ arrest and trial.
But who wants to concentrate on that?
So instead, I call today Preparation Wednesday, because today, Jesus was anointed for burial.
Picture this: Jesus is having dinner at Simon the Leper’s house (by the way, does anyone else think that would be a terrible name? I’d certainly be tempted to leave off “the Leper” part.) Only two days remain before His crucifixion.
He is enjoying Himself, and so are His disciples. However, soon, the night takes a sharp turn.
A woman approaches Him with a jar of very expensive perfume. Mark and John’s gospel record it is made of “pure nard.” Nard is short for spikenard, which is an essential oil derived from a plant found in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India. The oil is rare. It is expensive.
She treasured it.
No matter how precious, however, she would give it all to her King.
Jesus looks up, wondering what her intentions are. Her eyes are bright full of unshed tears. She kneels before Him and they spill onto her cheeks.
Smash! She cracks the bottle like an egg on the side of His chair. The thick aroma permeates the room as she pours the perfume on Jesus’ feet.
Crying, she empties the bottle and smears it onto His skin.
Those in attendance to the dinner begin to harass her, asking why she didn’t save the perfume. It could have been put to better use, they say. Sold and the proceeds given to the poor.
Jesus defends her. “She has done this beautiful thing to prepare Me for My burial.”
Did you catch that?
She knows He’s about to die.
In fact, she’s the only one who knows He’s about to die.
Yes, for months Jesus has been telling His disciples He would be crucified. Matthew 16:21 says He told His disciples “plainly.” In other words, He probably said, “I’m gonna die.”
How much more direct could He be?
However, most of them didn’t get it…perhaps because they didn’t want to. As they sat at the dinner table of Simon the Leper, not a one of them knew what was about to happen.
She accepts the bitter news, and does what she can to make it better. As was customary in preparing the dead for burial, she anoints Him with perfume.
Sometimes you can’t change someone’s inevitable, painful future, but you can make it sweeter.
She does exactly that. Jesus won’t avoid the Cross, and He’ll soon confront the ugly hour of trial, but her loving-kindness and affectionate gesture has made the hard path a little less hard.
As Jesus hung on the Cross that fateful day, were His battered feet fragrant with the woman’s perfume? Did the wind carry the sweet scent to His nose as He struggled for breath? Did it make the pain and torment a little more bearable?
Perhaps, today, you can make someone else’s pain a little more endurable.
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