To me, one of the tenderest moments in scripture is the account of Mary anointing Jesus' feet. As the dinner guests watch, no doubt stunned, Mary breaks the alabaster jar containing a pound of costly perfume, pours it on Jesus' feet and, through tears, unbinds her head covering to wipe His feet with her hair. It is outrageous love. Extravagant love. And it is too much for crooked Judas Iscariot to watch.
"Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii (the Greek equivalent of a worker's annual wage) and given to the poor?"
Uh huh. Nice try, Judas.
In today's market, Mary's bottle of perfume would cost $30,000. Possibly it was all she had. More probably it was part of her dowry, saved for years in case she married.
Mary doesn't speak of her motive, so we are left to guess. Does she see Jesus weary and spontaneously decide to encourage Him? Does she know Jesus is going to die soon and her performance is a prophetic ministry of what is to come or is she one who just knows this is her last chance to offer herself as a sweet fragrance of genuine devotion?
Regardless, she obviously recognizes something beautiful in her Master and wants to express her love for Him.
Mary has come a long way. Once merely a contemplative servant who sat at Christ's feet and irritated her sister Martha, once isolating herself after her brother Lazarus died, she now gives back to the One who is about to give His all for her.
Little does she know that, a few nights later during the Last Supper, Jesus will wash all of the apostles' feet, including Judas himself, the one who will ultimately sell Jesus' whereabouts for less than half the worth of Mary's perfume.
Mary gives us a beautiful account of humility and servanthood as she bravely demonstrates love like none of the others were bold enough to share. What an example for us she set! I want to be more like Mary, don't you? I want to be one who leaves a sweet fragrance in other people's lives.
This past Sunday my granddaughter Montana did just that to Jennifer, my daughter-in-law. Realizing it was Mother's Day, Montana ran into their Washington, D.C., house, leaving her mother to work alone in the yard. When Jennifer walked inside a while later, there were cutouts of arrows leading her upstairs and toward the bathroom where on the door hung this sign: "The Spo." Not "Spa," but "Spo."
Upon entry, Jenn saw the bathtub filled with water and its ledge lined with nail polish. Her swimsuit hung over the side. Instructions were given. "Put on your swimsuit and get into the tub." Jenn did as she was told, and every once in a while, Montana would peek inside the bathroom to see if there was anything more she could do. At one point, she actually told her mother, "This isn't going as planned." When Jenn asked why not, Montana made it very clear.
"In a real spa, people let the workers come in and check on them. They do NOT say things like, 'Montana, I see you waiting around the corner.'"
Jenn realized how serious this was to her daughter and spent the rest of the evening trying not to laugh as Montana proceeded with her pedicure and manicure.
Both Mary and Montana left a deposit of a sweet fragrance for the one they served, and although one was costly and one priceless, their recipients received a lasting memory of love. Perhaps we should make it our purpose to do the same.