Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was meant that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John 12:1-8
In this precious passage we read about a wonderful gift that was given to Jesus prior to His death and resurrection. Looking back to other times when Mary of Bethany interacted with Jesus, we see that when Jesus came to Martha’s house in Luke 10:39, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to what He had to say. During another encounter when Mary’s brother had died and she was grieving, Mary saw that Jesus had come and she fell at his feet (John 11:32).
It seemed like Mary realized who Jesus was – the Son of God – and that He was worthy of worship! The gift of nard was extremely costly – a year’s worth of salary! Of course those around her thought she was foolish but Jesus accepted her humble gift as an annointment prior to His death, burial and resurrection.
Although Mary may not have fully understood what she was doing when she annointed His feet with the expensive ointment, what she did understand was that she loved Jesus and that He loved her. What a beautiful portrayal of God’s love for us all. The sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal life with Him.
Mary’s gift for Jesus will always remind us of His sacrificial gift for us. May we treasure the gift of God’s love for us as we celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday!