Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John 12:1-8
In this chapter of John’s Gospel, two stories are developing. More people are praising Jesus, yet the authorities are increasingly determined to arrest him and put him to death.
The passage above is the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet. Although they were reclining for the meal, it was a dramatic gesture. Mary was acting with extravagant abandon and devotion; it was a very costly sacrifice.
This sacrifice foreshadowed the death and burial of Jesus as he continued his journey to Jerusalem, described as his glorification. May we follow Mary in her self-sacrifice, and Jesus in our lives.
See also: Poured Out God