She anointed Jesus with pure nard, worth an annual wage. What does your family earn in a year? Would you pour it out in worship of Jesus?
The first image is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ coming death. We know women went to his tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body, but Mary got the first chance to prepare him for his death.
But there’s more to this story.
The value of this perfume was astounding. Was it a savings account of sorts? Or, more likely, a dowry? A woman would keep such an expensive item in preparation for her marriage. In Jewish culture, marriage and child-bearing defined women. With such expensive perfume in her possession, Mary was poised for an appropriate marriage.
But she poured it out on Jesus’ feet.
Every little Jewish girl dreamed of her marriage, her husband, her children. In a breath-taking act of sacrifice, Mary chose to worship Jesus instead. In one sense, she declared Jesus as her bridegroom and forfeited her childhood hopes for a walk with the Carpenter.
A few verses later, Jesus declared the necessity of the seed dying as it went into the ground (like a body into a tomb) only to spring forth with new life and fruitfulness.
Mary got that. Mary’s dreams died that day but Mary walked on in the new life and fruitfulness of Jesus.
The rich scent of her perfume filled the house and continues to fill our hearts today as an astonishing picture of what commitment to Jesus looks like. It’s about letting go.
In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.
John 12:25 (MSG)