Read Mark 14:3-11
3 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.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Today’s Holy Week passage give us an account of what true, unhindered worship looks like. In Middle Eastern homes during Jesus’s life, meals were typically eaten on low tables and guests sat on the floor. While Jesus, the Son of God, could be in the homes of kings and queens, He chooses to lounge in the homes of outcasts. Simon was a Leper, a social reject because of his illness. Earlier in the Gospel accounts, Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). This passage is a perfect example of how Christ lives this out; He draws near to us in our sin. Not only does Christ love us in His preaching, teaching, and instruction, but also in fellowship.
While the passage from Mark does not name the woman with the nard, John’s account of the story identifies her as Mary, sister of Lazarus and Martha. As readers in the 21st century, it is easy to detach ourselves from the time period of the story, but the kind of love Mary embodies is timeless. Pure nard was extremely expensive (costing a year’s wages) and was often passed down in a family as an heirloom. Mary’s use of this luxury was reckless, or at least the disciples thought so. Nard came in a sealed jar, and the bottle had to be broken in order to be used. It was an “all in” type of item. This reflects our walk with Jesus. Just as Mary gives everything she has to Jesus, so too are we, as Christians, to let our whole lives be guided by a strong desire to love God more.
The disciples respond harshly to Mary’s loving act, but Jesus defends her. Loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind is the first and greatest commandment, and Mary does just that. Unlike the disciples, Mary understood that her resources weren’t meant for her but for her God. Our time, money, and relationships are all parts of our lives that we can use to either serve God or ourselves. Let’s answer these questions to further our understanding of how to live more like Mary, with a rich love for Jesus.
Is there anyone in your life that you think loves Jesus like Mary? How can you encourage them today?
Do you make time to “recline” with Jesus? How can you intentionally rest with the Lord this week?
- What in your life do you need to shift your perspective on in light of Jesus?
Did You Know?
When the text refers to a year’s wages, it actually comes out to around 300 days’ worth of work because they didn’t count Sabbaths and feast days!