Sermon session

Jarred

Session #149 Jarred

Scripture Matthew 26:6-13

Summary In Matthew 26:6-13, when the woman broke the alabaster jar and anointed Jesus, those present were indignant, resentful, grieved, vexed, very upset, extremely angry. We could say that it jarred them rather deeply. How would you have responded?

Introduction

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Matthew 26:6–13

In this passage, who would have thought that a little jar would create such a jarring effect? But those in the room were totally jarred by what the woman did when she broke the alabaster jar and anointed Jesus with its contents – “they were indignant”! It was not the act of anointing that jarred them as this was customary and expected as a sign of honouring a visiting rabbi or a dignitary. What was totally unexpected and so jarring to them was that she used a very expensive perfume.

Would we have responded in the same way too? Have there been similar situations or experiences that might have caused us to react with disapproval and displeasure?

Before we answer, let us consider this account to better appreciate the context.

A Broad Overview

This anointing account is a familiar one. The four accounts are found in Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8; and Luke 7:36-50. Matthew draws from Mark so these two accounts are the most similar. The other two provide other details. For this teaching, a broad overview was obtained through a compilation of the four gospel accounts, comparing and contrasting various details. From the overview, we can see the challenges of trying to harmonise the elements, and determining if all the accounts referred to a similar event.

By all counts, it is generally agreed that there were two such anointings, Matthew, Mark & John recorded one and Luke recorded a different one. But how do we reconcile the different placements and seeming time difference – 6 days or 2 days before Passover? The consensus is that John’s account was chronological and Matthew was thematic. This means that as recorded by John, the event most likely took place 6 days before the Passover. As for the Matthean account, following the introduction about the plotting of the religious leaders, Matthew placed the account here to provide a flashback to an event that triggered Judas to betray Jesus.

Three Consistent Points

Through the compilation, three consistent points surfaced across all the accounts:

Teaching Moment: Jesus heardand clarified the objection to the anointing, to help them discern and distinguish between worship and work (Matthew 26:10-11).

Prophetic Alignment: Jesus highlighted and conveyed the significance of the anointing, that what was done was totally prophetic and in full alignment with what would take place soon (Matthew 26:12).

Exemplary Action: Jesus honoured & commended the woman for the anointing, that her act of faith will be an example of how the gospel of the kingdom is lived out and expressed (Matthew 26:13).

Questions that Jarred

In contemplating the passage and these three points, some questions that may jar us to the core are shared for our reflection; that we may ponder more deeply about our own worship and work for Jesus and His kingdom:

How much is Jesus worth to us?
Jesus readily accepted the anointing by the woman. The truth is “Jesus is worthy of the best and of all”. We say and sing that, but do we live that? What would we give up for Jesus? How much would we give for Jesus? How much is Jesus worth to us?

Have we moved on the work of the ministry and missed the worship of the Master?
Jesus was not saying that the poor are not important or wrong. Both the work of the ministry and worship of the Master is expected of us by the Lord. In Revelations 2:2-5, He commended the Church of Ephesus for their good work but said “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. The work of the ministry is an outflow of the worship of the Master. The bearing of fruit is a by-product of abiding in the Vine. As we seek to give our best and all to the work He has assigned to us, may we also always remember to give our best and all in the worship that is due to Him.

Are wean instigator for strife instead of an influencer for harmony?Judas with his own misaligned intent, possibly got the disciples to agree that the woman’s extravagant worship was excessive waste. This happens in the Body of Christ today too. Instead of being gracious with one another, to recognize the body with many different parts, to celebrate its diversity; have we gathered support for our own positions, dividing and creating strife. Instead of being instigators for strife, we should be influencers for harmony like Jesus. This requires teaching, explaining, clarifying; and lots of patience and love.

Are we willing to do what needs to be done?
In our worship of the Lord, and work for the Lord, are we willing to do what needs to be done, even if it means being misunderstood or judged? The woman was willing and she acted on it in the presence of everyone. In giving her all to Jesus, she risked everything for Jesus – to be humiliated, ridiculed, rejected, cancelled. As long as it is to the Lord, of the Lord, from the Lord and for the Lord, may we have the conviction and courage to say and do what needs to be said and done, even in the face of objection and rejection.

Will we be remembered as an example of an expression of the gospel?
For her faith and devotion; and her act of faith and devotion, Jesus said that this woman will be remembered each time the gospel is declared. Whenever we want to know what worship and sacrifice is, we remember her as an example of an expression of kingdom worship. Whenever we want to know how work flows from the worship offered, we remember her as an expression of kingdom work. Will we be remembered as an example of an expression of kingdom worship and kingdom work?

Conclusion

Has this been a teaching moment for you? Have you been reminded to check your own prophetic alignment? Have you been challenged towards exemplary action through your kingdom assignment? Is the difference between what you know and how you live quite jarring? Do reflect on the five questions that jarred for your own further processing.