When Worship Seems Unreasonable

(Matthew 26:6-10 ESV) 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.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.

Sometimes worship breaks out at unexpected times and in the most unusual ways. This passage of Scripture is very familiar. Countless sermons have been preached trying to make sense of it. Songs have been written to describe this extravagant act of worship and the high cost associated with it. As many times as I’ve read it, preached it, and meditated on it, I’m still intrigued by the story.

For me, the response of the disciples is one of the most unexpected aspects of the story. In the days preceding, Jesus had shared the details of His impending capture and crucifixion. I’m not sure if they didn’t believe it would actually happen, or that there would be divine intervention to change the outcome. Even more unbelievable to me, is the indignant response to an act of worship that Jesus was certainly worthy of. Why would they want to deny Him the honor He was due?

Through the years, I have observed unexpected acts of worship that seemed inappropriate and unreasonable. Many times I have watched as people broke down in tears, or erupted in loud celebrations of praise to the Lord. I’ve witnessed significant financial gifts given to the church, mission projects, and other ministries when the offering was obviously a sacrifice. These acts of worship were not meant to draw attention to the individual. Rather, it was a spontaneous outward expression of an inner emotion of gratitude. When offered from a pure heart, it is not only appropriate, but according to Jesus, “a beautiful thing.”

I like what one song lyric says about the motive behind this woman breaking open and pouring out the contents of her alabaster box. CeCe Winans wrote…

I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him
Like oil from Mary’s alabaster box
Don’t be angry if I wash his feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When he wrapped his love all around me and
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box

Worship from a pure heart is always appropriate even when it seems unreasonable.

PRAYER: Father, receive the praise that I willingly give You! You, oh Lord, are worthy indeed! Amen.

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