Mark 14:3-10 says,
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a years wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
I’d never really stopped to put the two side by side. I’ve read the gospels over and over and maybe I knew, but I’d forgotten, or maybe I’d just glossed over or vagued-out on the timing, as I am want to do, but this week it really stood out. Mary does something beautiful for Jesus and the direct result of it, is Judas’ betrayal. Jesus died when he died, because Mary (other accounts say it’s Mary, the sister of Lazarus) did a beautiful thing to Him.
After the initial shock, I stopped and read back, to see what Jesus had to say about it.
“Leave her alone.”
Just in case we are tempted, like Judas, to write her off, blame her, accuse her, belittle her, attack her even, Jesus says, “Leave her alone.”
“Why are you bothering her?”
Who died, and made you the judge of all things?
“She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Jesus would have reeked. In John’s account of the same event it says; “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” John 12:3. That smell wasn’t going anywhere. A pint of perfume is a lot of perfume. Once, I smashed a whole bottle of Frangelico liqueur, into the carpet, the room was never the same. And yet, Jesus’ said it was a beautiful thing, and he was the one covered in it.
Jesus saw Mary’s sacrificial spirit, her broken heart and her actions of service and love.
“The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.”
Jesus did not discount the poor in the face of extravagance. In fact he encouraged giving to the poor, not just on appointed days but any time you want. He was all for the poor.
“But you will not always have me.”
But he knew he was about to die. This was six days before his death.
“She did what she could.”
Mary wanted to show Jesus her love. She wanted to show her love to a living Jesus, not a dead one. Jesus had told them over and over, he was heading to Jerusalem to die. Mary couldn’t stop what was coming, but she could help him through it. Jesus would have smelled ‘Mary’s beautiful thing’ continually for the next 6 days. Her courage at the Home of Simon the Leper that night, would have encouraged Jesus to keep going.
The smell would have perfumed the last supper he had with his friends, it would have been the incense of his prayer in the garden. It would have wafted to him as he faced his accusers in the Sanhedrin, perfumed the crown of thorns, and been more pungent than his torturers in the dank prison. Jesus would have been able, to go back to that night, in his mind, because of that smell, he would have been able to recall Mary’s ‘beautiful thing’. She did what she could, so Jesus could do what he could.
“She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”
Even as he hung on the cross, barely alive, the smell would have mingled with the smells of blood, and sweat and tears. He would have known his burial was imminent but he would have been reminded by the perfume, that by the time the women would come to pour new perfume on his body, he would no longer need it.
“Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mary’s beautiful thing was the catalyst for the death of her LORD. But it was also the catalyst for the redemption of the whole world.
Be encouraged to do that beautiful, courageous thing, for the Lord. Do not hold back your extravagant love (you can give to the poor when ever you want). Instead hold back your judgement of other’s actions, their beautiful things. They are doing what they can.
Be blessed, be encouraged to do, what only you can, for Jesus today. So that, Jesus can do what only he can do.
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Lots of love,
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