Before Jesus went into Jerusalem and was betrayed, a devoted woman honored him by washing his feet and anointing his head with expensive perfume. The pint of nard was worth an entire year’s wages, and it was broken and used for Jesus. John 12:1-8 tells the story of Mary, sister of Lazarus, who gave a tangible gift to Jesus that honored him and revealed her love for the divine Son of God.
Jesus stayed in Bethany, just over the Mount of Olives, during the last week of his earthly ministry. The day before the passover, He was given a dinner in his honor in the home of a leper whom He had healed. Lazarus and his family were also invited. These were people who knew Jesus well, and they knew He was not just an ordinary prophet. Instead of washing Jesus’ feet with water, as the servant of a host was expected to do, Mary herself poured this precious oil-based perfume on his feet and head, washing them with her hair. What was normally a menial task was transformed into a sacrifice of great worth by her devotion to Jesus. The entire house was filled with the fragrance of her work, letting everyone know the importance of their guest, Jesus.
Judas Iscariot objected with claims of more important ministry that could have been done if only they had used the perfume to get more money, but John exposes him as a thief. Jesus himself rebuked Judas, reminding them of His importance. When writing the gospel that has his name, John looked back on this sacrifice with new understanding of Jesus’ words, “This was saved for my burial.” The next night, he was betrayed and led off to be crucified.
No gift given to Jesus is ever wasted or forgotten or lost. And no gift given to Jesus can ever be too extravagant when we consider what He has done for us on the cross.
This short meditation on the first eight verses of John Chapter 12 was given during the evening service at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, VA on July 27, 1997. A message from Jude on what we should be doing in these latter days before Christ’s return was given at the morning worship service.