The Woman with the Alabaster Jar

This week’s woman of courage is the woman with the alabaster jar from Matthew 26:6-10.

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant, “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

At first glance, not much is known about this woman. We know that she was in Bethany the same time Jesus was in the house of Simon the Leper. Scholars debate who this woman’s identity. Many link her to Mary (Martha’s sister), though she is not names here.

But I don’t think we were meant to get caught up in who this woman is. Perhaps her name was left out to emphasize that it is not a matter of who she is, rather what she does.

This woman has something that is very valuable – an alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. The fact that the disciples comment that this could have been sold at a “high price” shows that it was not only valuable to the woman herself, but could have really helped those around her. Because women in Jesus’ time had little to their name, let alone possessions of great value, I think it’s safe to assume this could have been most or all she had worth any value.

And yet, we watch what she does:  she poured [the expensive perfume] on his head.

Jesus explains that she is preparing Him for burial, but she didn’t know that!  His disciples, those Jesus lived His life with, didn’t even know it.  What I see is this: a woman taking all she has, offering it willingly, and sacrificing it in front of the disciples who criticize her for this, to demonstrate her reverence, honor, and love for her Lord.  She gave it all for Him.

We look at her this week to be encouraged to think of what we are giving to our Lord.  She gave everything and Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (vs. 13). It took courage for this woman to offer everything she had – what would she have to fall back on? Did that really matter to her, or was it more important to her that she honor her King?

Are we willingly offering all we have? Do we trust that God honors our sacrifices when we are willing to give Him what is most important?

I looked at her story and thought, “I want to courageously give to God whatever has been given to me.  Because I know He’s got my back – and He knows what’s ahead.  And in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8.28). Am I willing?”

– Kristal Newer

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