Have you ever considered what you would do and whom you would share your time with if you knew you would die within a few days? I’d like to think I could have a pre-funeral with all of my friends and loved ones to celebrate and reminisce. I know I would want to spend this time with those I loved and loved me in return. So it comes as no surprise that Jesus spent His last week with His disciples and at the home of Lazarus, Mary, & Martha in Bethany. These were His friends, the people He could let His hair down with, the ones who understood Him.
Mary is fully aware of what’s to come. She has sat at Jesus’ feet and heard Him, really heard Him. Her gift of hospitality allows her to be a full, active participant in listening. She knew when to listen and when to act. She gives Jesus her full devotion. She understood why Jesus was going to die. Because of this she gifts Him with an act so beautiful, so aware of what was to come, so real. She breaks the seal of an alabaster jar (a beautiful, expensive vase) filled with pure nard. This expensive oil was then poured over Jesus. Mary used her hair to wipe the oil from Jesus’ feet. The visual message inherent in Mary’s act of wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair was one of humble service, submission, worship, and surrender.
Mary does all of this, getting expensive nard, anointing His feet, and wiping them with her hair to show her devotion and affection to the One she loved deeply and sincerely. Jesus tells us that her act will always be remembered. Jesus said, “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.” Matthew 23:12. He knew.
It’s been said the fragrance of nard, just a drop even, will last for a week. Jesus was covered in it; surely it was still present at his crucifixion. We are reminded of this in Ephesians 5:2 wherein “Christ gave himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God, as a fragrant aroma.”
Mary does this as an act of service, submission, worship and surrender. The worship of Christ in this scene is extravagant in the extreme and reflects the type of worship that Christ deserves. This kind of devotion to Christ cannot be bought; it’s priceless and the rewards are plentiful-hope, redemption, forgiveness, love, eternal life.
How are we showing that we have full devotion to Christ? Is something holding us back? Are we true disciples and followers of Christ or are we uncommitted pretenders? Are we being more like Judas?
Judas makes a deal to betray Jesus. He receives 30 pieces of silver. That was about an entire year’s salary at the time. It was the going rate for a slave. It was also close to the cost of the bottle of nard poured over Jesus in Bethany. When Mary poured the expensive oil over Jesus the disciples were shocked and upset. None were as outraged as Judas. This was the tipping point for him, this is when he decides he’s going to be a game changer, this is when satan enters his heart. He asks the chief priests what they will give him in exchange for Jesus. After accepting the money Judas waits for just the right time to hand Jesus over to them.
Is there anything in our lives we are choosing over Christ? Is there something that we are willing to do regardless of the knowledge of His great love for us?
Jesus knew what was coming. We do not. We cannot plan our pre-funeral party. But, we can take advantage of each day offered as a day to cherish. Cherish those we love, cherish the gift of life, cherish the Giver of Life.