Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:10-13
One time, while reading the story of the woman with the alabaster jar, I decided to ask God some questions. Why did Jesus say that when the gospel is preached, this woman’s story would be told? I’ve heard the gospel preached in pulpits and in open-aired concerts, but this story of the woman is hardly spoken about in the sermons of “Jesus died for your sins,” and “Accept the free gift of salvation,” or “Ask Jesus to wash the sins from your heart.” So what could Jesus have meant by saying, “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
What exactly did she do that makes the gospel include HER? To understand more, I had to look into the heart of the story, and for that, I had to look at the heart of someone I shall call “the alabaster jar carrier.”
A very similar account is found in Luke 7. Jesus had entered the house of a Pharisee and only one woman took time to do what servants should have done: wipe the feet of Jesus. Wasn’t Jesus as important as any other big-time guest or even more important? Luke 7:36-50 says this in verses 44-46: “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet” [Jesus speaking].
This woman acknowledged the presence of Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7) with the awe and respect that was due Him. Here was Jesus. Did anyone see Him for who He really was? Was He simply a miracle worker? A teacher? Or was He more than that? Could He possibly be the Messiah?
I can imagine the woman’s heart bursting. She had in her hands something expensive; something worth much. Why wasn’t anyone washing Jesus’ feet? She felt the stares. Eyes like daggers. Pharisees. Disciples. Those who knew the law of God around her. Those who gave to the poor. Those who took their religion seriously.
And what was her religion? She was a sinner. In fact, the Bible says, “When the Pharisee who had invited him [Jesus] saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39)
Yet, in all their religious knowledge, and in all their good works, none of them reverently welcomed the presence of Jesus with as much desire and tears as this woman did. Here was Jesus; here was the Person whose eyes shone with pure love; the miracle worker who could heal the sick and who could forgive sins. Was He the Messiah? Her heart knew what other eyes couldn’t see: in front of her was the Messiah.
And here is the crux of the story of the alabaster jar carrier: More than our knowledge of religion; more than the good works we do in our lifetime, more than the gravity of our sins—one stands before us who is Jesus, the Savior of man, King of kings, and Lord of lords waiting to be recognized by us. When He steps into the threshold of our lives, or knocks at our door, do we say, “Come, Lord Jesus, you are welcome here! I recognize you! Your death is precious to me! Your love is precious to me! And now here I am to pour my love on you! Here is my life! Here is my heart! If everyone around me makes fun of me or gives me comments on how silly I am to cry as I recognize you as my God, I don’t care! I recognize you! You are my Messiah!”
It is a beautiful heart that does that! And therefore, we see an amazing thing whenever the Gospel is preached: anyone who accepts Jesus with such a heart becomes an alabaster jar carrier pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet.
I can just imagine Jesus lovingly saying as the jar is poured out, “You are doing a beautiful thing to Me.”
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.