‘The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.’John 12: 3b
A few weeks ago I gave a teaching on John12: 1-8 for a women’s Bible study at my church. It is a beautiful story of how Mary (of Mary & Martha) showed her love and devotion to Jesus. While most tend to focus on Judas’ selfish disapproval of her actions, I couldn’t look past what her story tells us… Her dedication to Jesus and sitting at His feet, learning from Him, affected those around her.
The perfume, called Nard, would have been the most precious item she would have owned, we are told it cost a year’s wage. She opened the jar and anointed Jesus from head to toe with its contents during a dinner at Simon the Lepers house.
Why would she do this? Why would she pour out a perfume that would have cost a year’s wages? Think about that…the average yearly salary in the US is approximately $57k.
Why did she do it?
Because she loved Jesus abundantly. Her heart was completely for Him and fully devoted to Him.
But can you imagine owning a perfume that was worth that? Then taking it, in its beautiful alabaster jar that Matthew tells us about, and pouring it out over someone? Almost 60 thousand dollars gone within minutes!
But she didn’t just pour it over someone. She poured it over THE ONE. The only one that was and is worth sacrificing everything for.
Matthew and Mark tells us that she anointed His head while John focuses on her anointing His feet. Her anointing of His feet showed her humility and devotion to Him.
Then she went and did what some would call scandalous. She unbound her hair and wiped His feet with it. That right there is such a beautiful example of her unapologetic love and devotion to Jesus. This showed a very personal and heart filled act for Him. She gave Him, not just what was most valuable to her, but what many people considered a woman’s glory…her beautiful hair.
Then comes in Judas. A complete contrast in character to Mary. His heart was not at all for Jesus, but on how he could continue to line his pockets with other people’s money. His comment criticizing Mary’s act didn’t fool Jesus. He could see right through Judas’ selfish and lying heart to the core of the matter. Judas cared about Judas. That’s it. Judas was like what the world tells us now to do. You do you. You do what makes you happy, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, good or bad.
While I love that Jesus stood up for Mary from Judas’ phony self-righteous comment, I love, love, love how it shows us that Mary knew. Mary got it. Unlike the disciples and most other people, she understood that Jesus’ time to die was coming soon.
Remember, this dinner was not taking place at their own home. It was at Simon the Leper’s house (seen in Matthew and Mark’s accounts). So Mary had to plan to take this jar of ointment with her to this dinner. She had to plan to do what she did.
But how could she have known when the others didn’t get it?
Because she continuously sat at Jesus’ feet and worshiped Him, soaking in His teachings. And while she did this, her heart was fully for Him. While, on the other hand, the disciples often mumbled amongst themselves and argued who was the greatest among them.
Mary’s love and worship of Jesus permeated the whole house. ‘The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.’
Does the fragrance of our love and devotion permeate all around us? In our homes? In our workplaces? With our friends? Not just what we post on social media but in our conversations and how we live out our lives?
Let us live each day in the presence of Jesus, being in His Word and in prayer with Him daily. May He help us see all those around us through His perfect eyes and not our own faulty ones. May we be the sweet fragrance of Jesus’ Love, Grace and Mercy to those around us.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?2 Corinthians 2: 14-16
In His precious name,