Daily Devotion 30 March 2021
John 12:1-8 ‘Mary Anoints Jesus’
1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’
On my first wedding day, the man I was about to marry sent me a gift of my favourite perfume. In our hurry to get ready my bridesmaids and I succeeded in knocking the bottle over so that it spilt on the floor. We quickly saved as much as we could, dabbing it on ourselves so that it wasn’t all wasted but I’ve never forgotten the wonderful fragrance that filled not just the room, but the whole of the house for the rest of the day.
The oil of nard with which Mary anointed Jesus feet in the verses above was a very expensive perfume and immediately flooded the house with its aroma. All the guests would have recognized the scent as an expensive import from northern India and known that a whole bottle represented a year’s wages for the average working man.
“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” asked Judas. Regardless of his motives or what he would have done with the money, he asks a reasonable question. The value of this perfume could have helped so many people – hungry people, sick people, homeless people. To pour it all out at one time on one person doesn’t make sense – it’s neither practical nor efficient. But then love rarely is.
Mary loves, while Judas calculates. Have we never diminished or betrayed love by an, often sensible, need for practicality and efficiency? Mary fragrances the life and impending death of Jesus, not just with perfume but with the entirety of her life, all that she is and all that she has. Nothing is held back. Mary is the picture of wasteful, unreasonable love. Her love foreshadows, prophesies Jesus’ love. She anoints the feet of the one who will wash the feet of his disciples. She pours herself out on the one who will pour himself out on the world. Jesus’ love will cost everything he has, all that he is. He holds nothing in reserve. And he does it all for us.
May we follow Mary’s example.
Help us to humble ourselves before you and honour you with the whole of our lives.
May nothing in life be more important to us than you and our love for you.
May we sit at your feet and worship you with all that we are and all that we have.
And may we pass on to everyone we come into contact with today the fragrance of your love.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Ann Caffyn.
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