March 31, 2010

The First Believer - Wednesday in Holy Week

As we continue our journey with Jesus to the Cross, today, we hear the story of the unnamed woman (at least in Mark's account) who anointed Jesus. We've taken our chronology from Crossin and Borg's "The Last Week" and I've found their reflection on Wednesday in Holy Week to be quite helpful both as I prepare to preach at noon today on John's version of Judas' betrayal and as I ponder this extravagant act by the woman at the home of Simon the Leper.

Borg and Crossin see Mark's Holy Week tale as one of epic failure on the part of the 12, all 12 of them. Judas, of course, will fail the worst, but Peter won't do much better and the other 10, well they aren't exactly standing in Pilate's courtyard yelling, "No! This man is the King of the Jews! Release Jesus of Nazareth."

Contrast this with the woman, the only one it seems who gets it. Jesus has told them three times that he would die and rise again. And she believed him. And so, as Borg and Crossin posit, her conclusion is this, "Since (not it) you are going to die and rise, I must anoint you now beforehand, because I will never have a chance to do it afterward." (p104)

She is the first believer. Long before the empty tomb (which this year, in Luke's version we receive with disbelief) she believes. She is the first Christian, the model disciple, and we have no name for her (in Mark.)

Today, I wonder where I fall on the discipleship spectrum. Am I like the woman, ready to serve no matter the cost? Or am I like the 12, wanting it to be my way first before I'll sign on?

Lord, make me like this woman that I might serve you at all times and in all places. Amen.

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