While Jesus is reclining at the table (the traditional posture during more formal meals and dinner parties in that time and culture), a woman approaches Him. That is unusual in itself, because Jewish women didn’t normally attend banquets for men except as servants. But in addition, she breaks a jar of very expensive nard and pours the entire contents on Jesus’ head.
The woman’s actions result in criticism from some of those present. But Jesus not only recognizes her motives, but also publicly defends her. It isn’t that He doesn’t share the others’ concern for poor people, but the world would have only one Messiah and His death for their sins, so those facts were of greatest importance at this point. Jesus points out the woman’s horizontal act harmonized with God’s vertical implications.
In contrast to the woman’s devotion to Jesus, Mark inserts Judas’s decision to betray Jesus at this point. Nothing is said of Judas’ motive in Mark. John’s gospel informs us Judas was a thief. Judas’ act sets in motion the plan of the religious leaders to have Jesus put to death. God uses Judas’ and the religious leaders’ horizontal intentions to accomplish His vertical plan.
Our motives, our horizontal intentions, may not always match with God’s vertical plan. I am thankful that He can use even our misguided deeds for good. When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who sold him into slavery, he said (Genesis 50:17),
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Steve @ DCC