The qualities of the woman with the alabaster flask

Time flies and it is already the fourth month of the year. Time is moving forward in leaps and bounds. Our series about serving has not been exhausted yet, and in this blog I would like to reflect for a moment on the woman with the alabaster flask in the bible. It is a story I’ll never tire of, and it teaches me more about serving every time I read it. This is the first part of a two-part article about this exceptional woman (you will find the second part in the May blog).

Mark 14: 3-9 tells us the story about the woman with the alabaster flask, it reads; “And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 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.”

What an extraordinary honor: Jesus decides on the spot that what this woman has done for Him will always be preached along with the gospel. It made me wonder what impressed Jesus so much about her action. Why was this woman, out of all the people who ministered to Jesus daily, singled out for this unusual reward? I cannot think of any other person in the bible who has had the same honor.

The first quality that strikes me about this “good deed” is that it was an exceptionally expensive offering to Jesus. This oil was worth as much as a day laborer’s yearly wages and what could have kept her alive for a whole year, she pours sacrificially over Jesus’s head. It must have cost her a lot to get to that point, especially if she was a single person who did not have much material security or did not own much. It’s almost like the widow who impressed Jesus so much with her single penny in the offering basket.

The second thing that strikes me is the instant persecution and criticism that erupts among those who sit and watch. They immediately have plans for this precious oil: “What a waste, we could have sold it and taken care of the poor, or at least relieved our own daily financial pressure”

It’s true that those who do God’s will and thwart the enemy’s plans will never be free from resistance, opposition, criticism, and persecution. The moment something powerful happens in God’s kingdom, all the so-called couch experts begin to express their views on how it should have been done. Make peace with it, just like this woman did, and carry out your command undisturbed as you received it from Him.

Until next time when we further explore the qualities of the woman with the alabaster flask.

Dr Jurie Vermeulen

National Director: FEBA SA

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