She Knew What it Cost


Maybe some of us are struggling this Lent with whether to ‘remain’ or ‘leave’. And we know the seriousness of this struggle. We know that staying in the story of Jesus or walking out of that story is even deeper and more excruciatingly painful than deciding whether to remain in an intimate relationship or not.

If it isn’t that painful, maybe we’re just playing games.

Jesus once said that we need to ‘count the cost’ before deciding to follow him. Lent is a good time to do such counting. And that gets me thinking about Mary of Bethany, Judas, and a jar of exceedingly costly perfume. That gets me thinking about counting the cost.

She knew what it cost.
She didn’t need Judas to do the calculations.

She knew what it cost.
She knew that here was a year’s wages in perfume.

She knew what it cost.
Her brother Lazarus reclining at the family table,
not in the family crypt out back.

She knew what it cost.
Lazarus raised from the dead
and a warrant out for Jesus.

She knew what it cost.
Lazarus alive and conspiracies for Jesus dead.

She knew what it cost.
She knew where this story was going.

She knew what it cost.
This kingdom, this resurrection, this radical hope.

She knew what it cost.
And so she began the preparations of the body.

She had some experience with this,
having laid her brother in the tomb not too long ago.

She knew all about stinking decomposing bodies,
and so she filled the house with the aroma of rich perfume.
She knew the cost.
She knew what happened to the feet of crucified men.

She knew the cost,
so she anointed those feet and dried them with her hair.

She knew the cost.
An extravagant gift befitting a King.

She knew the cost.
And she was staying in this story to the end.

She knew the cost.
She could see the future, and it was murder.

She invites us to count the cost.
She invites us to pour out an extravagant gift.
She invites us to remain in this love.
She invites us to stay.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

One Response to “She Knew What it Cost”

  1. Deborah

    Another thoughtful commentary. Thank you — for tying those things together, letting us see.


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