Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” John 12 1 – 8 (NASB)
There is something especially beautiful in seeing people in love, words are unnecessary in such moments. The love is there to be seen and felt in tender moments. We think of couples in love, young and old alike, but there is another loving relationship that is also beautiful to behold. I speak of the love seen in a saint for their God. I have fond memories of brethren who are now resting in Glory, whose love for their God was as bright as a summers day. Such love brightens any room with a warm reassuring glow, blessing those who witness it. In our scripture today we enter as guests to a Judean dinner, hearing the guests chatting and eating. Freshly baked bread and wine scents the air around the dining table, suddenly love interrupts all conversation in an act of worship by Mary.
Mary was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who had recently been raised from the dead by Jesus their Master. The dinner they were present at was in honour of Jesus and was held at the house of Simon the Leper. Both Simon and Lazarus had reasons to be thankful, Simon for his healing and Lazarus for his life! Martha, Lazarus’ other sister was helping serve the dinner. At this time Mary took out a bottle of pure nard (perfume oil) and reclining by Jesus she anointed His feet spreading the perfume all over His feet. The rich sweet fragrance dispersed throughout the room dispelling the food odours, the guests stopped their chatter and looked on amazed at this act of adoration. Had they ever seen such rich unashamed love in action before? Yet in this beautiful tender moment there were dissenting whispers.
The loudest voice was that of Judas Iscariot who was the manager of the disciples money, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” This was in anger at an opportunity missed, not to be charitable but for him to steal. Here is a contrast, Mary’s love of her Master and Judas’ love of money.
Jesus rebukes the criticisms of Mary, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” In this He is saying that His time amongst them was nearly over, that His death is quite close. Did Mary have an idea that this was the case, that she had anointed Him so lovingly?
Dear reader, Mary made her worship clearly understood to all present, there was no words needed. Sometimes when someone has blessed us greatly words are insufficient, action is needed. Let us bring our best worship, a sweet holy fragrance to the Messiah.