Here comes a beautiful story which Matthew sets between and in stark contrast to the plots of the religious and the betrayal of Judas.
In a house in Bethany on the slopes of the Mount of Olives comes a story of beauty. It encourages us to create moments in our homes and indeed in our churches where those who are ‘sinners’ find courage to be there.
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.” (Matthew 26 v 6-7)
There is speculation on who Simon was. A healed leper? The Pharisee? He’s opened his home to Jesus. Honour is given to Jesus. That’s what Matthew tells us.
In this place where Jesus is welcomed a woman arrives. That’s all Matthew says. John says it was Mary (John 12) and Luke says she was a sinful woman (Luke 7).
A strong fragrant perfume burst into the room.
As it ran down the head of Jesus it soaked into his skin.
Perhaps you could still smell the fragrance on Jesus as Judas kissed him in betrayal, as the soldiers hit him, as he was nailed to the cross.
This woman’s beauty was her gratefulness.
Her selflessness. Her emotional feelings of devotion.
For her, there was no one else in the room but her and Jesus.
Of course there were others. John says there was Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 12:2). So we know for definite there was one testimony of healing and maybe Simon the Leper too.
In a place of honour and thankfulness to Jesus sinners will always come to worship in ways only they can express. Sometimes in ways that seem extravagant.