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Antioch the Beautiful and the Golden »


There must have been commotion in the room. The scent of roasting food and the smoke of the oil lamps mingling as they wafted toward the roof. The men reclining by the table, food passed around, the words of conversations large and small, agendas and opinions, imaginations and speculations all rising to mix with the smoke and smells. Did they take notice when she walked in? Probably not. Women came and went, bringing in full plates and carrying out empty ones. This woman, though, was there not just to serve food, but to anoint the Messiah.

At this point, Jesus has entered Jerusalem met by adoring crowds and the galvanized opposition of the religious, social and political elite among His people. Yet His own disciples still don’t seem clear on what, exactly, all this is leading up to. Does the woman know? Does she see something the others fail to comprehend? Has she discerned something ominous and unavoidable that the others can’t quite make out?

Whether or not she fully realizes the implications of her actions, the disciples obviously do not. Their reaction indicates an utter “tone-deafness” to the larger story being played out. But Jesus understands. He understands that what she has done is necessary, extravagant, beautiful. How much did this profound act of adoration strengthen Him to continue forward to the cross? How much did her worshipful obedience hearten Him to know His sacrifice would not be in vain? How much did this scandalous, symbolic action assure Him of His identity and destiny even as His own closest disciples reacted with contempt at the “waste”?

We have no way of knowing. What we do know is that people have been telling the story of this unnamed woman ever since. We know that Jesus understood this anointing was for His own burial, which would be done so hastily that there would be no time for an anointing later on. We know that she intuited — saw, somehow — what the others failed to see: that Jesus was the King and also the sacrifice, the Deliverer who would also be delivered, the Shepherd and the Lamb. And as a result, there was only one thing that mattered to her, and that was to give Him the very best of what she had; to anoint Him, honor Him, worship Him.

What is our response?

Grace and peace, y’all,


key text: Matthew 26:6-13Mark 14:3-9 (NET)