“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 fragrance of the perfume”. (John 12:3-4)
So often it is easy to look at this passage and truly admire Mary for what she did, willing to use such costly perfume, that was all gone within minutes. However, do we look at what it cost her beyond the money? Pure nard was very expensive in those days, it came from the areas of India, China and Japan and it is still one of the most expensive oils today. This special perfume was worth almost a year’s wages, and it is likely to presume that it took Mary a long time to save money towards buying it.
Do you remember that time when you got something you were longing for, for SO long? You worked and saved your money and kept your eyes on that goal, and then…you finally got it. That precious item is now yours, it is in your room, in your possession and you know exactly what to do with it. Amazing feeling, isn’t it? Try to imagine what Mary must have felt, having that precious perfume. Not only was it expensive, but it was saved for a very special purpose. Her wedding day. Just like our days, when we girls save things for our wedding day, whatever it may be for each one, like items…or ourselves.
What do I mean? we read that Mary had to break the bottle in order to let the perfume out. Notice what happened right after – the room was filled with the odor of the ointment. Sometimes God allows hardships and difficulties in our lives in order to bring out what we store within. To bring out a sweet savor that otherwise would have been kept in. 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9 says this – “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed”. Though there may be hard times, God uses those times to refine us and never leaves us alone. If Mary hadn’t broken the bottle, the fragrance would not have filled the room. Sometimes we have to take those precious things and start using them.
Mary kept the perfume for her husband but eventually used it for her king. Do we use our talents and gifts for our king? Are there times in our lives that we say “I will start using my gifts only when I’m married”? do we let God use us now, where we are?
When I wrote this, I didn’t give much thought to what Martha did that day. I always focused on what her sister did. I always saw Martha as a tough woman, who worked all day and never took time to rest. I hadn’t thought that perhaps this woman enjoyed what she did, and served with all her heart. Both sisters were different, each served in her own way and it could be asked of both whether their actions were meant to be seen so as to be appreciated. Others might have seen their actions as extravagant, they might have been criticized each in what she did, but they both served whole heartedly. They both gave their best, whether it was perfume saved for a wedding…or silverware fit for a king.
Yeshua’s response to what Mary did was that people will remember her and what she did. He also said on another occasion that she has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41-42). If we truly love our Lord, we should be willing to lay down what we hold dearest and best for him, even if others see what we do as strange or senseless.
I don’t know if Mary knew that Yeshua was going to die and rise up. She must have known when he had risen, since she did not go to the grave with the disciples. What I do know, is that she did what she did out of love and deep appreciation for her King. I want to be able to show my king, the king of love, my appreciation and love, with my best and dearest.
Let’s be willing to sit at his feet and pour out our best, in our homes and in our fellowship.
© Hannah Kramer