Mary of Bethany:
I know it was a very intimate thing to do, even scandalous. You should have seen my sister Martha’s face when I poured a whole pound of pure nard on Jesus’ feet! But Jesus was like my brother. I mean, he was my Lord, but I also loved him like I loved my own brother. It just seemed the most natural and full way to honor him before he… before he, you know…
How did I know he was going to die soon? It wasn’t because he said so. I just felt it. After Lazarus’ death, when Jesus… raised him… I just stood at that tomb and was filled with a knowing: “Before too long we will have to bury the Teacher.” It was like I saw into his spirit, and I knew he would be taken from us. He said it often enough; we just didn’t want to believe him. I knew at the Passover he would go to Jerusalem, even though it was dangerous for him there.
This might be the last time he was in our home. I had bought the nard thinking we would need it to anoint him after his death; I didn’t want them using anything cheap on him. I took all the money I’d gotten from the clothes I made and sold. I wanted the best for him. But that night I looked at him in the flickering light, as we all sat at the table after the meal, talking and talking, as we always did… and I thought, “No, this shouldn’t be for him after his death. Why waste it then? He should be honored like this in life.” And that was it; I just got up and took the jar and broke it and poured it all over his feet, the whole thing, everything for him.
“Oh the waste!” they cried, Judas leading the charge. “This could have been sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor!” Oh, they laid into me. Well, of course it could have. But that wasn’t the point that night. The point was to honor Jesus, to give him comfort and love and protection because we would not be able to protect him from what was ahead...
It was shocking to hear him say it so bluntly, that we wouldn’t always have him with us. I still don’t think they really heard him, or understood. But he let me know I had done the right thing, as wrong as it seemed to everyone else there. Seems he was always having to defend me. But this was one time I could show love to him.
He was going to lay down his life for us. I didn’t know what would happen after that. He had talked about being raised on the third day. He had said something to Martha at the tomb about being the resurrection and the life, and “Do you believe this?” But I didn’t know what would be.
But now I do know, and I ask you: was my action any more “wasteful” than the Son of God pouring out his life for the likes of me? For those who wouldn’t even recognize the gift?
Mary’s act of devotion and worship is unbelievably extravagant, seemingly wasteful. She held nothing back. Do you ever feel that toward Jesus… maybe toward someone else in your life?
The time you are spending now is precious to God… and as we give this, we can begin to look at what we’re holding back and release that too.