by Tony Nester

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The Woman With Oil (5 of 6)
Touched By Jesus
Tony R. Nester
Matthew 26:6-13

Had we been there with the disciples, would we, like
them, have criticized this woman for such a waste?
Might we, like them, have objected to the extravagance
of her gift?

Matthew doesn't give her name, but John's Gospel
does. She was Mary, sister to Lazarus and Martha who
lived in Bethany (see John 12:1-8).

This is the second story in Scripture where Mary is
criticized for being wasteful. The more well known
story tells how Martha became upset with her sister
because Mary, instead of helping Martha clean the
house and prepare the meal, stayed with Jesus so as
to remain in his presence as long as possible (Luke
10:40-42). Martha's complaint was that Mary was
wasting time rather than helping her sister.

Now, in this story from Matthew's Gospel, Mary is
accused of wasting money. Unannounced, unexpected,
and without consulting the disciples, she enters into
Simon's house where Jesus is reclining at table.
Without a word she breaks open her jar of ointment
and anoints Jesus with the costly and wonderfully
fragrant perfume.

Bible scholars will tell you that this was very
costly ointment indeed. Most likely, nard - an exotic
perfume that was imported from India. The cost would
be worth thousands of dollars in our money - some
scholars estimate as much as $10,000!

We know the kind of container that was used to
preserve such costly ointment. It was a long-necked
flask, semitransparent and resembling the look of
marble. In order to prevent evaporation of the
precious ointment the opening of the flask would be
tightly sealed. The only way to open the container
was to break it's long, thin, neck. Once broken you
had to pour out all of the ointment for it could no
longer be preserved. Because of their costliness
it's believed such flasks were often treated as
heirlooms and passed down from one generatio ...

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