…but Jesus liked rich people, too.

Clive Christian No. 1 perfume seems to be the world’s most expensive over the counter perfume available starting at just under $2,000.00 USD for a 1 oz. bottle.

We all know the story in John’s gospel (12:1-8) about how Jesus attends a dinner party in Bethany, and afterwards the host, Martha, washes Jesus’ feet with some expensive perfume and then dries them with her hair. For more than a few reasons this was scandalous to those present, especially Judas, who being the materialistic guy he was, knew exactly how much money was being wasted:

“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”

Now, a denari is thought to be a typical day’s wage of that time, so the perfume Martha was using amounted to almost a year’s salary for most people. Today, in my very affluent home town, the median income is $74,167 ( I, for one, am the reason why that figure isn’t higher). So no matter how you slice it, this perfume cost a lot of money. A LOT of money.

So if Martha could afford to own perfume that cost that much, she must have been wealthy. Rich. Loaded. And Jesus liked hanging out with her.

Never thought of that before. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on ’em myself. Probably just sour grapes.

Still, a $74,000 perfume?! That’s pretty damn excessive. ( A top of the line Porsche Cayman costs that much but at least you can drive it around for a few years.) Maybe dumping it all over Jesus’ feet was more than just a symbolic act of love. Maybe this was also a sign of her repentance – a radical change in her values.

Yet I wonder if the perfume really smelled all that good- if it was worth price. How could it be? And I wonder if maybe Jesus felt a little self-conscious later on, walking home and encountering friends in the street, about his excessively aromatic feet.

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  1. #1 by ric booth on March 31, 2010 - 10:45 am

    Actually, he loved rich people. Mark 10:21, Jesus looked at him and loved him.

  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on March 31, 2010 - 12:56 pm

    Well, I get your point but that’s not my point, Ricaroni. I love some people (perhaps a dear family member or two) but do not relish the idea of hanging out with them. At all.

  3. #3 by ric booth on March 31, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    but to you point, he was much more patient, caring, and loving towards some rich folk than, say some of us modern-day Christians … we still despise the sinner more than the sin (like materialism).

  4. #4 by Christian Beyer on March 31, 2010 - 2:11 pm

    Which tends to point out our own sins, such as in my case: envy and jealousy topped off with a healthy serving of self-righteousness. “I have seen the Pharisee and it is me”.

  5. #5 by ric booth on March 31, 2010 - 2:27 pm

    oh good, that saves me from having to point that out to you (in a Matthew 18 kinda-way of course).

    kidding. chill. the pot can’t call the kettle black. except in jest.

  6. #6 by Jonathan on April 2, 2010 - 4:57 pm

    I like your language of repentance and ‘radical change’. It’s interesting to think (and see so clearly in this story) that often it is in the very act of repentance that we are transformed. It can’t merely be a ‘symbol’, for had she only intended to repent and offer the perfume but never actually done it, her position would probably be different. In the reorientation of values and such radical changes, lifestyle paradigm shifts are inseparable from specific acts of servanthood and submission – and these acts are a part (and a necessary part) of the transformation itself.

    Thanks for your post.

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