Most of us who are familiar with the Bible and any form of the church are familiar with the phrase, "... do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25). This phrase is powerfully emotive for us as followers of Jesus. It is a key phrase associated with the Lord's Supper as we remember the Lord's death, burial, resurrection, and promise to take us home in glory.
Unfortunately, few of us are familiar with Matthew and Mark's almost identical phrase used in the immediate context of the Last Supper. Matthew and Mark remind us of the beautiful story of an unnamed woman anointing Jesus in Bethany (Matthew 26:13; Mark 14:9). They both also remind us of the Lord's promise that wherever the gospel is preached, what this woman did will be told "in memory of her"!
Yes, the phrases are nearly identical and both are spoken by Jesus:
"Do this in remembrance of me."
(εἰς την ἐμην ἀνάμνησιν)
"What she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
(εἰς μνημόσυνον αὐτῆς)
Somehow I had overlooked the similarity in wording over the years. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit recently helped me see the carefully parallel language. I had invited the Holy Spirit to help me notice what Jesus wanted me to see. Submission to the Scriptures, and the Spirit who inspired them, opened my heart to a fresh truth of grace.
Here is Mark's telling of this important event on the doorstep of the Lord's Passion:
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. "But not during the festival," they said, "or the people may riot."
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of costly perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.
"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her" (Mark 14:1-9).
I recently invited the Holy Spirit to help me settle into this story and re-shape my heart to be more beneficial in my service to the Lord. I prayed that I could discern what the Lord wanted to know, feel, and do, based on what happened in this event. I wanted to know what the Holy Spirit wanted my heart to experience in this story.
The longer I sat, prayed, meditated, and let this story wash over my heart, the more I was convicted. I want to be like this unnamed woman! I want to be like this lady who tenderly and extravagantly demonstrated her love for Jesus!
Yes, I commit to being like her:
- I commit to doing something costly to me that extravagantly displays my love and admiration for Jesus — for WHO HE is and what HE has done for me! (Mark 14:6)
- I commit to sharing my love openly for Jesus, despite any criticism that might come my way! (Mark 14:8)
- I commit to thanking Jesus because of HIS willing incarnation in human flesh, live in service to others, death on the cross, burial in a borrowed tomb, resurrection from the dead, and promised return in glory — all done for me! (Mark 14:8)
- I commit to doing something lasting that involves sharing God's good news of Jesus with others! (Mark 14:9)
Our lives are busy — often way too hectic, chaotic, and rushed. We miss many of the many opportunities God gives us each day to show our love to Jesus. We also frequently overlook the ways we could share the love of Jesus with others. So, the next time we hear the words associated with Communion, "Do this in remembrance of me," let's also remember this unnamed woman her lovingly extravagant display of love, admiration, and appreciation for Jesus. Let's move beyond remembering her story; let's also commit to being like her in these four ways. Let's do it "in memory of her"!
Let's choose to be JesuShaped, like her!