Pure Nard

Mark 14: 3 “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.”

Often, when we use this passage to talk about generosity, the commentary runs something along the lines of, “the people in the room with Jesus didn’t understand generosity at all, so make sure you’re like the woman and not like the people in the room.”

But Greg pointed us to something interesting when we looked at this passage on Sunday – this gathering took place in the home of Simon the Leper. Now, lepers in this time were outcasts. They weren’t supposed to live within the boundaries of the city, and people weren’t supposed to associate with them. So it’s worth noting that the people in this room were following Jesus at least enough that they were willing to go and be with the sick and outcast. They had figured generosity out at least that much.

This means that the folks in the room really aren’t that much different from even the best of us. It seems that they were making an honest effort at following Jesus, and that the ways in which they failed here are likely common to anyone who makes an effort to follow Jesus.

I think that will be important to keep in mind as we pick through and apply the passage this week. This conversation about generosity takes place among people who are already (at least outwardly) living generously. In your reflection this morning, take stock of the ways in which you think you are succeeding in your generosity and the ways in which you might not be doing so well. Be honest with yourself. Even go so far as to write it down. It’s worth contemplating.

P.S. Since we’re talking about generosity this week, it seems appropriate to include a link each morning to a local organization with connections to City Church. If you feel lead to be generous with your time or money there this week, step into that generous impulse! Today’s organization, inspired by Simon the Leper, is LA Christian Health Centers. This is a clinic that works with the poor and homeless in Skid Row and Los Angeles. You can check them out at www.lachc.com