The Anointing, Part 2

Mark 14:3-9

So what detail can Mark bring to the story of the anointing of Jesus by a woman, shortly before his betrayal and death?

We learn today that it happened in Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper, as a meal was being served.

We also learn that the woman anointed Jesus with what the King James Verrsion of the Bible calls “spikenard very precious” and that she poured it from an “alabaster box.”

Why are those details important? Mark explains because the ointment was so rare it could have been sold for a great deal of money – and some saw this as pure waste.

Now we are getting to it.  This wonderful woman, still yet unnamed, took something she cherished – and selfishly poured it on the Lord’s head.  We can see the scene, the kind look in the Lord’s eyes, the woman’s tears of devotion, the angry snarls on the face of those who hate him – and pretend to be offended that the poor could have been helped by selling the ointment – instead of “wasting” it on Jesus.

Where do we fit into that scene – two thousand years after it occurred?

Are we celebrating and adoring the Lord, as the woman did?

Are we tempted to say, “they have a point there.  Too often the Church spends money in extravagant ways that could been better spent helping the poor?”

Are we somewhere in the middle – wanting to love God – but not knowing best way to do so – worship – or service to others?

Or are we missing the point?  They didn’t really care about the Lord OR the poor – they just wanted him DEAD.  Out of their way – must we confess – even if we wouldn’t be so cruel – there are times we wish the Lord and his pesky demands would just go away?

These are the questions the story places in our lap.

How do we answer?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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