He was just spending it with friends. His last day, the day before it all changed. Like the calm before the storm, Jesus is with His people, enjoying a meal and trying not to focus on what the next few days will bring. Perhaps there is even a smile, or a moment of laughter, as for one brief second, there is respite from His reality. And then, suddenly, it was time.
Mark 14:3–9 (ESV)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 whenever you 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.”
They didn’t understand – those who were watching – this was not simply a pouring of perfume, it was a preparation. He was being anointed, as a sacrificial lamb, and perhaps if there was any leftover, there would be need for it in just a few short days. But all some saw was a waste. “Why wasn’t it sold so we could give the money to the poor?” After all it was worth 300 denarii – almost an entire year’s worth of wages. Certainly more good could’ve been done with it then? They just didn’t understand.
His answer seems so out of character – “the poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” Was He really ok with this? Was He actually being this selfish? What they did not understand, was that what He had just been prepared for, was to become the most selfless and sacrificial “gift” to those who owed more than they could ever imagine. He, Himself, would offer the poor and destitute, those without the ability to repay their own debt, the opportunity at a life of eternal riches. More than any perfume could ever be worth, or any person could ever imagine. There is so much about Him they do not understand, and this part of it, signals the beginning of His end.
Today, Judas displays his discontent with Jesus’ non-action. Tomorrow Judas will take on action of his own. Today Jesus partakes in a banquet with many, at a meal fit for a king. Tomorrow, there will be just bread and wine, along with His closest friends, at the last meal He will eat before His death. Today their is laughter. Tomorrow there will be tears.
But right now, if only for this one last time, Jesus is enjoying Himself, focused on the pleasant present instead of a foreboding future. He is God’s anointed, now in the most literal of senses. Today He relishes in the kindness of a friend. Tomorrow the world will start to see, just how much it takes to be the King.