Serving with Costly Love
A funeral can be a deeply painful and emotional time for loved ones, saying their final goodbyes and laying their departed to rest in the grave. Little did anyone know, a funeral of great significance was approaching, but not for any ordinary person. Jesus, the Son of God, was soon to be put to death. This event was foretold, but many couldn’t comprehend its gravity. Let’s look at a remarkable incident recorded in Matthew 26:6-13, where a woman’s act of love and sacrifice foreshadowed the intense suffering that Jesus would endure.
The Woman’s Act of Gratitude and Love
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.
But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” – Matthew 26:6-13
In Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman approached Jesus with an alabaster vial of costly perfume. Overwhelmed by gratitude and love for Jesus, she poured the precious ointment on His head as He reclined at the table. Unbeknownst to her, this act of devotion was symbolic of the intense suffering Jesus would soon face. Her heartfelt gesture went beyond comprehension, perplexing the disciples, who questioned the perceived wastefulness of the act.
Understanding the True Sacrifice
The disciples’ reaction is quite understandable from a worldly perspective, as they expected Jesus to overthrow the government and establish an earthly kingdom. However, Jesus knew that the Kingdom of God was not of this world. He explained to them that the woman’s anointing was a preparation for His burial, indicating the impending events that would lead to His crucifixion and death. Jesus willingly accepted the symbolic actions of the woman, acknowledging the suffering He was about to endure for the sake of humanity.
The Aroma of Sacrifice
In ancient times, anointing with oils was a customary practice performed upon the dead to counteract the smell of decaying flesh. Jesus’s death would indeed be a shameful and cruel one, without the usual burial preparations. He would be wrapped in cloth and laid in a borrowed tomb. The woman’s act of anointing Him with precious oil held deep significance, symbolizing her love and affection, but also foreshadowing the profound sacrifice He was making for mankind.
The Everlasting Memory
Jesus, in His final statement, prophesied that the woman’s act of love and devotion would be remembered wherever the Gospel was preached. Her story would continue to inspire countless sermons and speeches, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of believers through the ages. Her sacrificial act reflects the truth that true service to others comes at a high cost, just as Jesus exemplified by giving His life for humanity.
The Divine Call to Sacrificial Love
The story of the woman anointing Jesus reminds us of the importance of selfless love and service. We are called to imitate Jesus’s sacrificial love and demonstrate it in our lives. Just as He emptied Himself and took the form of a human to serve us, we must be willing to pour out our hearts, time, and resources for the benefit of others.
Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB1995) urges us to have the same attitude as Christ:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Here are three things we can do to Serve with Costly Love
- Radical Love for Others: Jesus calls us to love others as He loved us (John 13:34-35). This means loving sacrificially, giving up our comforts and desires to meet the needs of others. By doing so, we reflect the heart of Christ and impact lives for eternity.
- Recognizing the Cost of Serving: The woman’s act reminds us that true service comes with a cost. Sometimes, it might require us to give up something precious. However, the rewards of eternal impact far outweigh any temporal sacrifices we make. (Matthew 5:38-42)
- Living with an Eternal Perspective: The disciples focused on temporal kingdoms, but Jesus emphasized the eternal Kingdom of God. We must prioritize eternal matters and invest in heavenly treasures, knowing that our actions will be remembered in eternity. (Matthew 6:19-21)
The woman’s act of anointing Jesus was a profound display of love and sacrifice. Although she may not have fully comprehended the significance of her actions, her devotion foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for all of humanity. Jesus’s death and resurrection paved the way for our redemption, and His Holy Spirit empowers us to live victoriously.
May we be inspired by the woman’s story to love sacrificially and serve others with the love of Christ. Let us remember that true service comes with a cost, but the impact it has on others’ lives and the eternal reward it brings far outweigh any earthly sacrifice.
As we continue to share the Gospel message, may the memory of the woman’s act of love be an encouragement and challenge for us to live a life that reflects the selfless love of Jesus Christ.
Let us embrace the divine call to sacrificial love and leave a lasting legacy of love and devotion to our Lord, just as this woman did. As we follow her example, may our lives bring glory to God and point others to the hope found in Christ alone.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 NASB1995)