Bethesda News

Holy Week Devotion – Day 3

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Matthew 26:6-16 (ESV)Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Judas to Betray Jesus

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.


Reflection by: Zachary Kinard, Director of Outreach Ministries

The two scenes in the scripture passages of Matthew 26:6-16 (the woman anointing Jesus and Judas’ betrayal) are beautiful to me because, read side-by-side, they provide an example of the paradoxes of human experience that Jesus experienced in his journey through Holy Week – in this case devotion and betrayal.

There’s so much to discover about my own life and how to be in this world by looking at Jesus’ humanity during the final days of his life and the opposing tensions of each encounter. A few obvious examples that come to mind:

  • The empire, military might, and violence of Rome, contrasted with the humility, meekness, and gentleness of Jesus. (Entrance on Palm Sunday)
  • The loud demands for retributive justice, power, and political expediency from the crowd, priests, and Pilot; contrasted with the silence, non-violence, and faith of Jesus. (Trial before the crowd)
  • Arguably, Jesus’ experiencing several of the stages of grief: denial (final words on the cross); pain, depression and bargaining (praying in the Garden of Gethsemane); and acceptance (while on trial; praying in the Garden; and in the very act of going to the cross), contrasting his divine nature.

Jesus has the ability to hold the tension of the moment, able to transform the pain of his situation and problems of the world without being negatively transformed by them. His wisdom on display throughout Holy Week seems to be less about what decision to make in any particular situation, and more about how to reach that decision–a beautiful reminder that the spirit and intention behind the choices I make in life become realized in the perception of others, and that this perception, evidenced by the growth of Jesus’ following, lives on.

Jesus makes the universal personal and specific in his embodied life in human flesh, while simultaneously the specific and personal become universal in Jesus’ suffering and resurrection, drawing the entirety of creation toward the creator – the mystery of the risen Christ, a “both/and” proposition contained within him. My human mind and ego want, at all costs, to define the other, to divide, and to draw clear distinctions between good and bad; right and wrong; life and death. Some days I’m especially good at it. Jesus’ offers me a way out of the every black-and-white pattern of thought.

Jesus seems to be showing us life is “both/and” at every turn–the release God provides when I refuse to argue with the reality of the moment right in front of me. When I encounter people faced with extreme and challenging circumstances in life, it can be easy to want to invent a back story about why they are in their present situation, or to want certain outcomes for them. Realigning with the moment at hand keeps the work we accomplish at Outreach meaningful and satisfying. We can focus on providing those in need with donations of life’s basic necessities and leave the outcomes to God.


QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

  1. Why do you think Jesus promised that this woman’s story would be told wherever the gospel is preached?
  2. Matthew juxtaposes the disciples’ concern over wasted money with Judas’ acceptance of money to betray Christ. How does this reinforce Jesus’ words in chapter 6, verse 31: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”?
  3. How should we respond to Jesus’ statement that “the poor will always be with you”?

PRAYER GUIDE

  1. Pray that God would allow you to stay present in each moment and love each person He places in your path.
  2. Pray that we would internalize the significance of Jesus’ incarnation as fully human and fully God.
  3. Pray that the staff and board at the Mission would be good stewards of all the funds given for the poor, while encouraging our guests and one another to prioritize sitting at the feet of Christ.

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