Nameless Women // The Woman Who Anoints Jesus

“I have to get there,” she thinks to herself. Sweating a bit from the run back to her house, she grabs the jar and stares at it for a moment. She rolls it around in her hands to admire the way the alabaster creates a marble swirl and feels cool to the touch.

“I have never seen something so beautiful,” she mumbles out loud. “He is deserving of this and so much more.”

She tucks the jar under her arm and runs out of the house.

She races down the dirt road with so much haste that her head covering begins to slide. She fixes it with one hand and she clutches the jar with the other. She has been saving this jar of perfume for a special occasion, possibly her own wedding, and in this moment she can think of nothing more important than blessing the Messiah.

Some have called him Prophet, others Rabbi, but when she heard him speak with such authority and felt the Spirit heavy over the hillside, she knew he was something more. She felt he could be the prophesied Messiah and knew that even if he wasn’t, he was a man of authority and someone who had healed and freed many.

He was someone worth honoring.

She arrives at the doorstep of the house Jesus is in and pauses. She can hear the voices of the men reclining at the table. She peers in slowly and sees the only women present are serving.

“There’s the leper!” She recognizes Simon from the crowd following Jesus when she was first introduced to his teaching.

“Lazarus, come sit.”

“Could that be….” She has heard stories of the man Jesus raised from the dead, but has never seen him for herself. Hearing Jesus speak his name, she can feel the power within her own spirit. “It must be.”

Her heart is racing, no longer from running but from the understanding of what could happen to her for entering as a woman and an uninvited guest.

She bows her head, lowers her eyes to the ground, clenches the jar with both hands, and steps into the home. No one notices her at first. She takes a few more steps and the room goes silent.

“They must have seen me,” she thinks to herself. She cannot tell if they are staring because she has not lifted her eyes. She feels her temperature rise; her ears become hot with nervousness.

She keeps her eyes fixated on the feet of Jesus and does not stop moving until she reaches him.

She bows to him and cracks the alabaster jar. The sound of the material splitting pierces their ears and, somehow, makes the room quieter. She pours the essence of nard over his head and tears begin to stream down her face. She drops to her knees and the tears flow more fervently.

She is overcome with emotion, overflowing in worship.

She takes the remaining perfume and pours it over his feet. Without hesitation, she removes her head covering and allows her hair to fall to the ground.

At once, the men gasp. The first sound made, breaking the thick silence of the room.

A woman’s hair was not to be shown before a man unless he was her husband. In this moment of worship, she cannot imagine herself committing her life to any man but this one. She is not desiring marriage, only a life of faithfulness to someone worthy of all her devotion.

Her tears fall to his feet, mixing with the perfume. She grabs her hair and rubs the mixture into his skin, cleansing and soothing his feet from a long journey and anointing him from the depths of her soul.

“What a waste of money,” Judas declares defiantly, being the first to speak. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

“Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me?” Jesus corrects gently. “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Her heart is elated. He feels honored and is defending hers. She keeps her eyes fixed on the ground.

“She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial,” Jesus continues.

The pause after his statement feels like an eternity.

“Is he going to explain that statement? He speaks of his own death… surely he is the Messiah, as I have thought!” Her mind is racing. Her heart pounds so quickly she is sure they can hear it.

The men reclining at the table begin shifting uncomfortably. Jesus’ rebuke strikes them all in a way they are unsure how to respond to. Judas leaves the table, a behavior common for him.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus begins. “Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

She falls flat to the ground and her cry becomes audible. She has wanted nothing more than for her love to be made known to Jesus, but she had not been prepared for how lovingly it would be received.

For all her life, she has been told to stay hidden and stay silent. Today, she exposed her heart and was promised it would be cherished forever.

Inspired by Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-0, John 12:1-11

Photo Credit: Ryan Cartwright

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