“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
At a seemingly casual dinner, with some of His dearest friends, Jesus received one of the most intimate responses of worship from a young woman who poured her perfume on His feet. It was a moment that probably lasted no more than a few minutes, but it so deeply impacted the heart of God that He promised, “wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13). The significance of this woman’s decision would reach far beyond her life.
But, why did Mary so deeply move Jesus? Let’s look at the scene:
Lazarus—who had been miraculously raised from the dead—was reclining with the disciples and Jesus at the table. Martha was busy serving all the guests in her home. Mary was probably sitting close by, taking it all in, but something was stirring in her heart. She somehow knew that this was one of the last times things would be this way.
Mary had insight into what Jesus was about to do on the cross. Overcome with love for Him, and knowing His supreme worth—she stood to her feet and, without a second thought, she reached for the most valuable thing she owned—an alabaster jar of perfume. This expensive perfume was probably her life’s inheritance, a dowry gift. It meant everything. For women in her day, the value of owning such perfume could secure her future in marriage. This was a sacrificial gift. Yet, with the jar in her hand, she rushed to Jesus’ feet and poured out every last drop. The house immediately filled with the strong fragrance of the perfume. All conversations came to a halt and Martha was probably staring in disbelief from the kitchen.
The disciples began rebuking Mary for this outrageous act and condemning it as a waste, yet Jesus interrupted them with a bold statement. He said that what Mary had done was beautiful to Him. It wasn’t reckless. It was profoundly intentional. Mary knew the greatness of His resurrection power, she had just witnessed Him raise her brother from the dead. She knew the vastness of His glory and worth, that, as she poured the perfume over Him and wiped His feet with her hair, she worshipped God Himself. At this moment, Mary understood the cross that awaited her Lord. Jesus had already been communicating to the disciples that He was going to die and be raised three days later—but they couldn’t comprehend it. Mary, however, had just prepared His body for burial. Jesus had earlier said that His hour had come and she had ears to hear Him. Less than a week later, Jesus would be on the road to Calvary and the fragrance of this perfume would be with Him, a reminder of Mary’s love. As He hung on the cross, He would smell the aroma of her worship. Not one drop of Mary’s offering had been a waste—it mattered to Jesus.
And, so, this is the story that continues to be told as the gospel is proclaimed to the world. Maybe it’s because every person that sacrificially takes up their cross to follow Jesus has the same revelation that Mary did at that dinner party. He is worth everything. When you see Him and know His heart, you will give all that you can—no matter the cost. This is the response of worship when we comprehend His beauty, we pour out our lives as a fragrant offering. Our sacrifices and choices to love Him will go mostly unseen, maybe even criticized, but they will never be a waste. Our worship is beautiful to the heart of God. It matters to Jesus.