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Lesson 6: Holy Week

The Spirit of Exalted YHWH is upon me, for YHWH has anointed me: God has sent me to bring good news to those who are poor…

– Isaiah 61:1 (TIB)

Devotion: Read Matthew 26:6-13. The word “Messiah” means “anointed one” or in Greek, “the Christ.” Whenever we use the phrase “Jesus Christ” we are saying “Jesus, the anointed one.” In that moment, we acknowledge the truth of the words, “wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (26:13). Jesus is the Christ, and his anointing is performed by an unnamed woman (shocking in his culture) in the home of a leper. Jesus is not what we expected. Son of an unwed mother, poor, working-class carpenter….this is not a Messiah that comes for only the elite of the world. Jesus comes for all.

The woman’s anointing oil represents an enormous amount of money, most likely her life savings, if not her entire family’s savings. What would lead her to sacrifice so much for this act? What sign, belief, or encounter would it take for you to commit your life’s resources this way?

Personal Worship Option: Spend time sitting quietly in the presence of God. If you are uncomfortable doing this, that is ok, try it for thirty seconds. Imagine sitting in a room with Jesus. What would you communicate to him in such an intimate setting?

Dig A Little Deeper:

26:6 Most likely Simon is a former leper. Perhaps he is the man healed by Jesus in 8:1-4.  

26:7 The woman remains unnamed in the synoptic gospels; John states that it is Mary, Lazarus’ sister (Jn 12). What does his acceptance of anointing as the “Christ” from a woman indicate about Jesus’ attitude toward women? Given that prophets and high priests anoint Israelite Kings, what can we assume about women from this gesture? In what ways does our culture still struggle to accept women in leadership and priestly roles?

Anointing is reserved for Rulers (1 Sam 10:1) and priests (Ex 29:7). In this case, Jesus satisfies both these roles.

To maintain its fragrance, such a perfume is sealed in a jar that must be broken for use. Once open, all must be used, lest it go to waste. It was customary to break such vessels open at banquets so the contents could be shared. What can we learn from this woman about abundance? What is the difference in abundance and waste?

26:8 Christians often struggle with finding a healthy balance with money. How much should a church spend on a worship space? Is spending on worship the same thing as spending money to honor God? How do we determine how much to spend on ministries to the poor? How does the New Covenant focus on being led by the Spirit help us answer questions such as these?

26:10 Jesus responds with graciousness, accepting the gift in the spirit the woman intends. Not all gifts are given with a generous heart. How might our perspective on giving be impacted if we believe the state of our heart in the act of giving rather than its monetary value of the gift given determines its value to God? What if the same is true for the giving of praise in worship?

26:12 Jesus identifies her action as preparation for his burial. Compare this to Luke 23:55-56.

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