Some of those who were present said to one another indignantly, “Why has the perfume been wasted like this?
complain about imbalance
a washing of feet
would have been ok
anointing is over the top
not wanting to complicate
make more awkward
we only complain
about the cost
The “some” who grew indignant at the expense of this anointing probably includes the Disciples. We can remember their upset about the rich having a hard time getting into “heaven” on the basis of their riches. We also remember them talking to one another about who was the greatest.
Reflecting on this anger response will prepare us for a coming conversation about betrayal and money and a symbol-filled last meal.
To claim that the perfume has been wasted discounts any acknowledgments or affirmations of Jesus being a Messiah, an Anointed One. If there is anything to such a title, anointing would be expected, not labeled a waste. This would again lead us toward the issue being one of simple expense, not how it was used.
Was Peter still trying to wriggle out from under the consequence of Jesus’ way of being a Messiah who would suffer and be anointed in death? If so, Peter will make a good colonialist, using his keys to consolidate power and amass money from large and small colonies.
The issue of waste cuts through different economic theories. They each try to deal with justifying one efficiency or another to grow the wealth of those at the top. This is a pervasive concern whether we are talking about capitalism’s profit motive or a potlatch gifting. Hierarchy can be expressed through either getting or giving.
The song “Greed”, by Sweet Honey in the Rock, can be fruitfully brought to bear on this verse. If you are not familiar with this song composed by Bernice Johnson Reagon, there are a couple of presentations of it on YouTube.com.
It is worth noting that the dynamic of escalating complaint is critical to sustaining anger. Anger needs tending to keep it burning. Mutual indignation is a traditional way to feed anger. All that is needed is to set up one logical fallacy or another, as a basis of a complaint. An economy that monetizes partnership is a common misjudgment.