Simple Sabbath: The Gospel in an Alabaster Jar

Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be spoken of in memory of her. Matthew 26:13

First, a small etymological exercise: gospel – our Old English form of this word is godspell, god (long o) which is good –  spell or story/message, translation of Latin. bona adnuntiatio, itself a translation of the Greek word euangelion “reward for bringing good news.”

The context of our verse is the impending crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. Jesus encounters a woman who pours a very expensive amount of perfume on his head. Jesus tells his indignant disciples that she has done “a beautiful thing.” (see Matthew 26, Mark 14)

By all means, build your life on the gospel. Let’s see a few ways that the perfume incident helps us convey the gospel of Jesus –

1. Jesus said wherever the gospel is preached, the story of this woman should be told. It is a story of passion for Jesus. It is a story of total sacrifice. It is a story of pouring out all earthly possessions to express a heart devoted to Christ the Lord. We must tell such faith stories.  Apologetics, reason, sound doctrine, etc., — all are important as we share the gospel. But few people come to Christ as a result of logic or debate. The power of the gospel is a testimony of faith. Concern yourself less with converting your neighbor; choose, by faith to love your neighbor.

2. The beauty of this moment was the woman’s fountain of passion. Let us ask, “Was this an act of compassion or an act of sacrifice?” Go and learn what this means (see Matthew 9:13).  Can we strive to impress Jesus? Should we offer sacrifices? Some people believe that sacrifice will make them more acceptable to God. But the Sacrifice has already been offered according to the gospel. It was not the woman’s sacrifice that Jesus commended, it was her passion. This woman found Jesus; she found a reason for hope and one who would set her heart on fire.

3. The woman’s social faux pas was her impulse to do something. She seems to have been carried away by her emotions. She let her feelings get the best of her. Nobody told her to do it, something stirred her from within. She forgot to ask a simple question, “What will others think?” While society criticized her, Jesus commended her. (There’s a big lesson for parents and teachers. Can you think of a time when a student let the heart get ahead of the head? The gospel says don’t be so quick to reprimand.)

4. Think about this story in its context. It’s not a happy time for Jesus personally. It is difficult to imagine the stress and gnaw in his stomach. He had just referenced his impending death. He knew knew that his closest friends (even the Father) were going to forsake him. The walls are caving in all around Jesus when a woman “anoints” him; in this act passion she demonstrates extravagant love. Or is it just a crazy indulgence? What a picture! How much more did God, through Jesus Christ, pour out His best on the cross! That’s the gospel truth.

Have you ever been accused of doing something outrageous for Jesus?  Have you ever been incriminated for extravagant love?  “See those Christians, see how they love!”  Let’s remind ourselves to celebrate actions of extraordinary beauty. May we offer ourselves as a sweet aroma. Let’s share this gospel; proclaim God’s alabaster jar which was broken and spilled at Mt. Calvary.



2 thoughts on “Simple Sabbath: The Gospel in an Alabaster Jar”

  1. We would like to have permission to use this photo in our print and on line material as an analogy for what legacy giving is all about. It is a perfect example of an extravagant gift that lives on for generations to come. Exactly what planned giving is all about.

    Please advise if we need to purchase this photo or can we can have permission to use it.

    Lauralee Bailey
    Director of Planned Giving
    United Methodist Foundation, Inc.
    Garner, North Carolina

    1. Dear Lauralee:

      Unfortunately, I paid for permission to use this image and simply cannot recall which company I used. I’m very sorry to share that with you. If you’d like, you may reference the Red Dirt Chronicles as your source with permission, but I don’t know that I can really grant you permission to use an image from our site that we paid for. I’m so sorry I cannot reference the company. Best wishes with your project.

      Red Dirt Kelly

Comments are closed.