“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John 12:1-8 NLT
So John fast-forwards several months to 6 days before Passover. Jesus makes His way towards Jerusalem and the temple and stops in Bethany, at the home of Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead, Mary and Martha lived.
While in Bethany a dinner to honor Jesus. (also see Matt 26, Mark 14, Luke 7) was given. While they were eating, Mary washes Jesus feet and pores and expensive perfumed oil on them. (Luke 7:38) Now this seems weird in our culture -but washing feet was quite common in theirs. Most people wore sandals, if anything at all, and their feet and became extremely dirty, dusty and chapped from being constantly exposed. It was customary for a host to provide someone to wash their guests feet. An added bonus would be providing olive oil to moisturize these feet. Mary provided both. Not only did she wash and cover Jesus’s feet with oil, she used very expensive oil perfumed which would cost roughly an entire of year’s salary!
This practice of pouring purfumed oil on someone was called “annointing”. The use of olive oil was common, anointing- using this expensive perfumed oil, was something reserved for a monarc or a priest, signifying that they were HOLY and UNCIMMON! The perfume from the oil was actually so strong that it permeated the room. This action was a simple show of Mary’s friendship and fondness for Jesus, but it also showed her regard for Him as the Messiah and signified to those looking on thst Jesus was special-He was HOLY!
Judas Iscariot, however took offense to Mary doing this! He asked, “Shouldn’t such an expense oil be sold and used for the poor? Interesting enough, John the writer, commentates on Judas’ statement. John writes, “Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself” (vs 6). Looking back, John had figured out that their treasuer, Judas, who went on the betrary Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, was also a thief!
Jesus’ defended Mary saying, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.” Now this statement would have shocked the disciples because if anyone have given thought to the fact but she was actually anointing Jesus, it would not have been for burial! Their thoughts would have naturally lead them to believe that she was anointing Him for a a coronation! Not even Mary knew that she was anointing Him for burial, for just a few days later Jesus would die on the cross.
Jesus’ last statement here is , “you’ll always have the poor to help, but you will not always have me here.” I believe this statement brings us to an important point of this story. Mary’s very simple act of worship here, was toJesus, much more important to Him than taking care of the poor. Now Jesus fed the poor. He fed 5,000 to 20,000 people at the same time on at least 2 occssions. Our service to others while on earth should resemble Jesus’ (Mark 16:17)!
Sometimes, though, what we do for Jesus replaces our relationship with Jesus. This should never be the case! Mary, on more than one occasion, had demonstrated that her desire was to worship Jesus, not to only serve Him. When we truely worship God, performing acts service to Him and for Him will naturally follow!
We as 21st century Believers can learn from Mary’s example. We must, first and foremost, live to worship, follow and fellowship with Jesus daily. This is what it means to be in a relationship with Him. The outflow of this will naturally be that we do things for Him – like feed the poor!
Is your worship of Jesus personal and consistent, or is it simply a Sunday ritual?
Think about it!