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Sabbath School Insights
2016 Quarter 2: Apr-Jun
Jesus' Last Days
June 18, 2016
The Queen of England was scheduled to come to America for an official visit. Her assistants thought that it would be good PR if the Queen was to visit a local American resident as part of the royal trip. Consequently, Mrs. Bolton, An African American woman of middle age was selected to have the privilege of the Queen's visit. Naturally, Mrs. Bolton was quite excited about the Queen's visit to her home. She had followed the Queen's life, and remembered her coronation, her wedding, and even when the Queen had children. But never had she imagined that Her majesty would visit her. In anticipation, Mrs. Bolton, who was an excellent cook, set out to prepare the best "‘soul food"' she'd ever made. Even her neighbors were saying that her food had never smelled that good.
On the day the Queen was to arrive, Mrs. Bolton, as well as the press, the media, and security personnel were ready early. Unfortunately, no one remembered to teach Mrs. Bolton the protocol for receiving a Royal dignitary into her home. Upon the queen's arrival at Mrs. Bolton's home, cameras flashed, videos cameras and recorders rolled, and security was tight. The queen, stepping out of her vehicle, began the ascent up the pathway to Mrs. Bolton's home. Upon seeing the Queen, Mrs. Bolton moved quickly through her front door, out onto the step, and down the path. In her exuberance, she both embraced and drug the Queen into her home. Reluctantly, the Queen obliged; yet anyone watching could see the discomfort on her face. The Queen's bodyguards became frantic; this had the unfortunate effect of scaring Mrs. Bolton, and making the Queen even more uncomfortable. Not one of the Queen's entourage was accustomed to a host or hostess behaving in such an impetuous manner. Nevertheless, calm was restored after explanations and apologies had been made. Mrs. Bolton, despite the faux pas, rejoiced that the Queen had spent a few minutes in her humble home. The British however, were loath to let the matter go and were indignant at the treatment received by their Queen. Accordingly, the scandal sheets reported the details of the event for weeks.
The scandalous nature of the Queen's treatment reminds me of the story about the woman who anointed Jesus. Her "impetuous" behavior was no less a scandal in her day. Let's read the account in Matthew 26:6-13 (KJV),
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
In Luke's account of this story -- Luke 7:36-50, we notice that the host, Simon, also found this incident reprehensible, "for the woman was a sinner." Unlike the Queen, who by protocol was not to be touched by the host, Simon refused to have anyone touch Jesus, which went against the etiquette of his day. However, no one expressed disdain for Simon's breach of etiquette. Instead, Mary, the uninvited guest, performed the welcoming ritual that Simon should have done; only she responded not out of protocol but from gratitude.
In her concern for Jesus, Mary relieved His suffering. Ellen White elaborates in the following quotes,
"The fragrant gift which Mary had thought to lavish upon the dead body of the Saviour she poured upon His living form. At the burial its sweetness could only have pervaded the tomb; now it gladdened His heart with the assurance of her faith and love… And as He went down into the darkness of His great trial, He carried with Him the memory of that deed, an earnest of the love that would be His from His redeemed ones forever" (Conflict and Courage, p. 306).
"The desire that Mary had to do this service for her Lord was of more value to Christ than all the spikenard and precious ointment in the world, because it expressed her appreciation of the world's Redeemer. It was the love of Christ that constrained her. . . Mary, by the Holy Spirit's power, saw in Jesus One who had come to seek and to save the souls that were ready to perish. Every one of the disciples should have been inspired with a similar devotion" (Christ Triumphant p. 252, paragraph.4).
Although the disciples had privately received teachings regarding Jesus' approaching death, they were uncomfortable with the idea and resisted it, which later left them unprepared for trial. In contrast, Mary, an ‘improper’ woman, not privy to the disciples' intimate knowledge of Jesus, was informed by the promptings of the Holy Spirit and believed. That kind of inspiration she received can only find an entrance in a broken and a contrite heart. Thus, Jesus commended Mary.
The heart of Mary of Bethany was a grateful one. She had truly grasped the Gospel as preached by Jesus, which is why she behaved as she did. Yet, someone called her actions impetuous. In the Dictionary, the word "impetuous" is defined as characterized by undue haste and lack of thought or deliberation. Mary's actions indeed may seem impetuous to some, and wasteful, or shameful to others. However, Jesus gives evidence that the Holy Spirit was moving her to do as she did. By Christ's description of her behavior, it's my guess that we can perceive the impetuosity of agape-love as heaven does -- as aptly describing how God loves us, and the manner in which we will love one another as the Holy Spirit moves us. Moved by the Spirit, Mary Magdalene of Bethany gave to Christ her most precious and costly possession.
So, the question today, comes to us individually: is there room in your life for Spiritual impetuosity? Have you ever been spiritually impetuous? Have you ever been led by the Spirit to live your life not according to the dictates of others, but purely according to His Word, and His prompting? It's so easy to be impetuous about something we love. If we truly love Christ, let's allow Him to have His way with us. Who knows what that fragrance wafting on the air will do for another?