The Alabaster Box

She came in unexpectedly. Weeping, blubbering, as if someone was dead — or was at least going to die. All eyes were on her. Simon’s. The Teacher’s. His disciples’. But only the Teacher seemed unrattled.

She held in her hand a box made of alabaster — small, translucent, the expensive perfume almost reaching its brim.

The woman approached The Great Teacher. Simon, whose dinner was still lodged in-between his teeth, rose up with the intention of driving the girl away from his home. But a look from the Teacher held him down. Slowly, he took his seat again.

She and the Teacher were almost eye to eye, but she didn’t dare raise her eyes to look into his. I and everyone else in the room held our breaths. She moved slowly until she was right behind him.

She held the box with both hands and smashed it on the dusty floor. With tears streaming down her face, she poured out its contents over His head. The intoxicating perfume wafted through every corner of the room.

She didn’t stop there. She knelt down until her face touched the Teacher’s feet. With her tears, she washed the dirt and the grime away. With her hair, she wiped the salty liquid dry.

She poured the remaining perfume, kissing his feet and weeping into them some more.

A murmur began to rise inside the room. One disciple, Judas I think, spoke up saying, “What a waste! That perfume was worth a year’s wages! It should have been sold! The money could have been given to the poor!”

I agreed with him. It must have taken the woman a fair amount of time to collect the fragrant essence of nard. But she poured it all over the Teacher, exhausting it in one sitting.

Yet I couldn’t help but put myself in her place. If I had been a woman — if I had a jar of perfume, too — would I have had the audacity to pour it out on the teacher also? I might have. But then I might have been too afraid to. The looks the men gave her were not ones of praise and good regard.

The Teacher shushed Judas down. “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”*

I and the rest of the men looked down uneasily at the floor. The Teacher was right. Plus, the woman was the only one who honoured Him enough to wash His feet. None of us had touched His with even so much as a wet rag.

I stole a glance at her, respect making its way into my eyes. What she did unto Him was indeed a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I wished I had done the same. I wished I could also do the same.

Based on the text from Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 7, and John 12
*Text directly copied from Matthew 26:10-13 (NIV)


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