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. John 12:3.
This verse speaks about worship and about how God desires our hearts above all else. Mary had just been through a roller-coaster of emotions. As her brother Lazarus lay dying she and her sister sent desperate messages to Jesus to come quickly. When he finally arrived, too late (or so it seemed), Mary reproached him with “if you had been here my brother would not have died.” But then Jesus worked a great miracle and Lazarus came out alive after being dead for 4 days. After going down into the depths of sorrow and disappointment, Mary is now elated and overwhelmed with love and gratitude. From the overflow of her heart she yearns to show that love and she searches for something that will adequately express her feelings. She finds perhaps her most valuable possession, a very expensive jar of perfume that was worth a year’s wages. She then kneels down before Jesus and anoints, not his head as was the usual custom, but his feet. Only servants washed feet. But Mary does not care about how she may be perceived, she only wants to bow and worship. She wants to go down low and to put Jesus high. She unbinds her hair – again not the done thing in public – and wipes his feet with her hair. In this wonderfully intimate moment, she pours herself out. In every way she knows how she expresses her adoration and she humbles herself before her Lord. What a wonderful picture of worship! Cold hearts that watched, open-mouthed, this display of emotion, could not begin to understand. “Why this waste?” they said. But the scripture is clear that nothing was wasted here. “And the house was filled with the fragrance…” is a wonderfully eloquent way of showing that true worship always has its effect. May God lead us also to overflow with love and thanksgiving so that we too want to pour ourselves out in worship, caring not what others may think, but only wanting to humble ourselves before our great God and to adore him! If we worship like that the fragrance of God’s presence will fill our homes and overflow into the lives of everyone we meet.
Yours in Christ,
Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)