It was Wednesday, “two days before the Passover” (Mark 14:1). On Friday morning Jesus would be sacrificed as the Lamb of God, crucified on a Roman cross.
The disciples were gathered with Jesus in Bethany, just a couple of miles from Jerusalem (John 12:1-3). They were at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus... Lazarus, the man whom Jesus had just called from the grave (John 11:38-44).
One can imagine the celebratory mood! Lazarus had been dead for four days, but tonight he was seated at the head of the table, obviously alive! Eating. Smiling. Rejoicing. Thankful to be in the presence of Jesus, his Savior and Healer.
Surely, they had spared no expense for the banquet. Neighbors, friends and relatives were there for the festivities and feast. Looky-loos peered in the windows and door, each looking from Lazarus to Jesus. Lazarus was the only man they knew who had been dead and yet lived. Jesus was the only Man they knew who had power over the grave. What a sight! ... What a night!
The home where they gathered belonged to “Simon the leper” (Mark 14:3). He was apparently the father of Lazarus and his sisters. We know nothing about Simon. Maybe he was the leper who fell at the feet of Jesus saying, “If you are willing, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40, CSB). Maybe. One thing is sure. Simon had been healed of leprously, something that medical science had no power to accomplish. Simon the leper, leprous no more, played host to the Great Physician... the King!
Mark doesn’t tell us who she was. “A woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured it on his head” (Mark 14:3, CSB).
John tells us it was Mary who “took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’s feet, and wiped his feet with her hair” (John 12:3, CSB).
Picture it. Kneeling. Weeping. Worshipping. Sacrificing her very best. Unfurling her long locks, she gently caressed her Master’s dirty feet.
This is where it gets messed-up.
“But some were expressing indignation to one another: ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.’ And they began to scold her” (Mark 14:4-5). Again, Mark doesn’t provide a name, but John does. The ring-leader was Judas, the betrayer (John 12:4).
The extravagant gift, the expensive perfume that anointed the Lord’s feet could have been sold for a year’s wages... say, thirty-thousand dollars! Why, they asked, wasn’t it used for benevolent causes? Why was it wasted, they asked? Why? Because the sweet-smelling ointment was used to worship Jesus! She gave her best. She gave it all. She gave it for Jesus!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor