“This is the portion of Aaron and of his sons from the Lord’s food offerings, from the day they were presented to serve as priests of the Lord. The Lord commanded this to be given them by the people of Israel, from the day that he anointed them. It is a perpetual due throughout their generations.”
“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
These verses in Leviticus recount the previous five offerings from a different perspective. This time, they focus on the priests’ responsibilities and portions of the offerings. One interesting side-note (that is not immediately obvious from the text) is the meaning of the word “fat.” The “fat” of the animal was considered the finest portion – the “filet mignon” type portion. All the “fat” of the animal was given to God as a food offering, so the Lord got the best part of the animal. Reserving a lesser part of the offering for the priest ensured the welfare of him and his family.
But let’s transition to today’s New Testament reading. Matthew made a literary choice to sandwich Mary’s anointing (that occurred earlier in the week) between two scenes of shocking betrayal. Contrasting Mary’s sacrificial act to Judas’ and the Priests’ self-serving hatred only highlights Mary’s enormous love for Jesus.
We know from John 12, that this is Mary of Bethany, Lazarus’ and Martha’s sister. Her devotion to Jesus is unmatched. Jesus’ disciples, his closest companions, are still refusing to believe that he will actually die, but Mary mysteriously gets it. She’s willing to sacrifice a year’s wages to show her love for Jesus, her Lord. She breaks her precious alabaster jar over Jesus’ head (Mark 14). She bends and wipes the oil from Jesus’ feet with her hair. She has prepared him for burial. Jesus says it is a beautiful thing.
Sweet Mary. Just as the priests were commanded to offer the “fat” of the animal – the best part – as an offering to the Lord, so did Mary offer the best of all she had. Her love was extravagant.
Are we giving God the best of what we possess? Do we love Him extravagantly or are we shackled by social norms and cultural expectations? Do we love our reputation, status, wealth, security, possessions, family, comfort, pleasure or a sense of control more than we love our Lord? Jesus demands our all – but not out of priestly duty… No! He wants our extravagant Love!