It is now Easter week during which some churches call for a week of prayer and meditation, to identify with Jesus’ suffering and death, by those who hated Him. On the Tuesday of Easter week Jesus was staying in Bethany with his friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary who had prepared a dinner in his honour. We are told that Lazarus was among those reclining at the table as Martha served the meal.
During the meal Mary moved to sit at Jesus’ feet with some very expensive perfume (the equivalent of an average year’s wages). Judas Iscariot was indignant and demanded to know why the perfume had not been sold and the money given to the poor. Judas didn’t care about the poor neither did he understand the act of costly devotion demonstrated by Mary. Jesus defended Mary from Judas’s criticism by pointing out the unique opportunity Mary had. Her devotion touched the heart of Jesus “Leave her alone Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. She has anointed my body beforehand for burial.”
While the guests at the table in honour of Jesus did not understand the significance of what Mary was doing, Jesus takes great encouragement from her act, treating it as a prophetic sign of what was about to happen to him. What seems wasteful to others speaks profoundly to Jesus, reminding him of his mission and acting as a sign that his Father is in control of events as Jesus prepares to die for the sins of the world.
By choosing to pour such expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus, Mary must have known that her action would provoke scorn and hostility. Yet she didn’t care. She was willing to look foolish in order to minister to Jesus. When she anoints his feet and then wipes them with her hair, she is anointing him for burial, which usually happened when a person had died. A woman unbinding her hair was unseemly but Mary was moved by deep love and loyalty despite the social disapproval there would be in the house. She would be an embarrassment to others at the table.
Mary has deep spiritual insight. She knows that Jesus is on his way to death and by her action she is anticipating his death. She understands that nothing could be less wasteful than this act of pure love and Jesus commends her for her loving insight. So, what can we apply to our lives from Mary’s example?
She had a humble spirit. She was single minded in her devotion. She cared about Jesus alone and her actions honoured him. She had a perceptive heart. She probably didn’t understand what she was doing, but her motives were set solely on Jesus and she obeyed that inner voice. She had a deep, passionate love for Jesus. All other love she counted as loss compared with this. She took the most precious thing she possessed and spent it all on Jesus. Love is not love if it calculates the cost. She was not conscious of herself. Mary wiped the feet of Jesus in a culture where no respectable woman would appear with her hair flowing loose. It was the sign of an immoral woman. Mary was completely unconscious of what others thought of her. She loved Jesus so much that people pleasing was not on her agenda.
True worship for Jesus is the fruit of love. Are you a one person pleaser irrespective of the opinion of others?
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