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'For Everything There Is A Season'
Holy Week

'For Everything There Is A Season'

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Holy Week
' The cost of Everything and the Value of nothing . . .' 

Read : St Mark 14: 1 - 14 (NLT) 

Welcome to soul space - During this Holy Week the 'Together' Churches (St Cuthbert's, St John's and St Andrew's & St George's West) have been focusing on different elements of the Holy Week story as described in the gospel of Mark . . . On Monday night St John's looked at the role of perfume, last night at St AGW looked at the role of coins in holy week. Today I will be referring to both perfume and coins as we explore the physical senses of hearing, touch, smell and taste in the life of Jesus . . . 

Sometimes, when I'm reading the bible pondering the meanings of scripture I think to myself - "are we getting the full picture here?" 

When we get locked into the understanding of the words, and the phrases . . . looking at the context . . . wading through concordances . . . looking for the truth in the text . . . this can all become a very cerebral exercise . . . and we can get trapped in our heads. 

And that's when I think we can get to knowledge . . . but maybe without understanding.  

Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with gaining knowledge . . . I used to work in a university and worked with students there - and it was that point when what they learned transformed into what they understood was, as I saw it, the crux of their university experience. 

To understand Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God . . . I think we need to explore Jesus the human being . . . and this week, this Holy week provides a space for this deepening understanding of Jesus the man. 

Jesus came as the incarnation of God - the meat and flesh and bone of God. 

A human person - with human senses . . .  

Sight . . . Hearing . . . Touch . . . Taste . . .  

Today we reflect on this divine human being . . . and in today's soul space I would like us to explore two things - the sensate Jesus . . . seeing . . . hearing . . . touching . . . tasting . . .  

And to consider the dynamics of cost and value through the story of Jesus being anointed at Bethany in the passage from St Mark's Gospel above 

Bethany seemed to have adopted Jesus - it was a place he was welcomed . . .  

Imagine what it may have been like to be in Simon's house that meal time . . .  

The men would be reclining around a low table - and it would have been just men for that was the custom and tradition of the day. 

The text says Simon had once had leprosy - had he maybe been healed by Jesus earlier? If so the excitement and gratitude would have been tangible - the meal was in Jesus' honour. 

The taste and smell of the food, the noise of the conversation of a grateful host, and the company of disciples and friends.  

A good meal with friends - sounds great . . .  

Into this space steps a woman - a brave woman, a very brave woman comes in - for it wasn't her place to be there . . . and somehow she makes it to the place of honour at the table were Jesus was.  

If this wasn't disruptive and scandalous enough she then produces a jar of perfume, and opens it over Jesus head.  

This was not an easy thing to accomplish . . . . I wonder if she had to climb over some of the guys there to get to Jesus, I wonder if she had to scramble over the bodies of those feasting to get to Jesus head. 

The aroma explosion of the perfume would have totally filled the room . . . it was a significant quantity and quality of perfume . . . I imagine it dripping from Jesus hair and beard, soaking through his clothes. 

With his skin saturated with perfume the warmth of his body would release that aroma for days to come. Hold that thought . . . that fragrance likely remained with him all the way to the cross . . . but back to the diner table in Bethany. 

Imagine the scene . . .  

At first there would have been a pause . . . a stunned silence - then the complaints began . . .  

holy week soul space

holy week soul space

Have you noticed that when anyone crosses 'the line' in a culture that the normal first response is indignation.  

And it was the same there . . . Accusations fly - comments are made . . . shocking, disgraceful behaviour . . . . 

Then Jesus defends and honours this woman . . . bringing the room to order. 

In this story we have an example of Jesus immersed in sights, sounds, smells and touch . . .  

The incarnation of God - the person of Jesus - was seeing, touching, smelling and hearing . . .  

The second observation about this text is that what was foremost in the minds of those who commented was money. 

They observed - "It could have been sold for a year's wages and the money given to the poor!" 

Oscar Wilde described a cynic as one who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. 

The cynics in the room had a field day over the outrageous, generous gift of this woman . . . they only saw the cost . . . and I think that the "money given to the poor" bit was an afterthought . . . an attempt to cover up what they had blurted out. 

But while Jesus silenced the cynics in the room . . . the act became a motivation for Judas to betray Jesus to the priests and teachers of religious law . . .  

He left the meal, consumed with indignation . . . the text says 'Then' not later or 'some time after' . . . but 'Then' . . . his mind was set on immediate action . . .  

From being a disciple eating at a meal in honour of a friend . . . he became a by word for betrayal . . . in a moment, an instant . . . and his price . . . thirty pieces of silver . . .  

Some commentators say that 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave . . . some say that it was thirty days pay . . .  

In either case for Judas the 'cost' of loyalty to Jesus was by far less than the perfume that had been poured out in Bethany. 

Judas embodied the quote of Oscar Wilde - "He knew the cost of everything, and the value of nothing". 

Only later after Gethsemane, did he see his fault . . .  

The cost for Judas was a lonely death - a man with a broken heart. 

However . . . The value of the woman's extravagant worship stayed with Jesus as he was stripped and beaten . . . the lashes he received releasing the aroma in the air . . .  

He was anointed for death before he was condemned . . . did her prophetic act have a deep symbolism for Jesus . . . he had talked about his coming death to his disciples before . . . but this woman's act could be seen as a transition from knowledge to understanding . . . . and this act her way of acknowledging that understanding. 

What are the extravagant acts of worship that your understanding of the person of Jesus, the Christ - calls you to . . .  

They may be a challenge to the culture we are in . . .  

People may get offended and indignant . . .  

It may even be costly . . . both to our reputation and our bank balances . . .  

But the value of your worship is eternal - It is a fragrance that will fill the heavens. 

Andy Gregg, 2018


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