“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3
Anytime I read the story I’m reminded of a time as a child I over sampled some expensive perfume while at Dillard’s. A little smelled good; a lot about drove me and the adult shopping with me nuts. I feel like no amount of washing could take the smell away. Needless to say, I wasn’t allowed to test perfume after that. We still joke about it now many decades later, the fragrant reminder of pouring on perfume.
Going back to the Scripture, I can’t imagine a pound of perfume being poured out. I don’t like feet at all. Then the idea of using my hair to wipe feet, well I just can’t imagine. Yet, here is this woman who so wanted to honor the Lord that she used all of a most expensive perfume. Some commentary say the perfume cost a year’s wages, that it was very rare, and came from a far off country. It’s not like they had Amazon delivery or online shopping. No shopping mall that kept it in stock. No airline, train, or even semi for speedy delivery. There was no factory to mass produce it. To me, these factors makes the perfume even more expensive.
Other thoughts that cross my mind about the scenerio, feet were not in socks or shoes. They would’ve been dusty and dirty. If His feet had been washed when He came in, it would’ve been with a basin of water. There would not likely have been soap and water.
Then there is the hair. I know there is a big push about not washing your hair frequently, right now. However, using hair to wash feet and not having some heavy duty cleanser might be too much for me. Hair is also women’s glory:
“but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
1 Corinthians 11:15
She said aside her own glory to kneel at the feet of Jesus. She humbled herself and honored Him with this extravagant gift.
As I have read this in the past, my focus has always been on Mary’s extravagant gift. The cost of the perfume. The humbling of herself to kneel at Christ’s feet in the midst of a gathering. Tonight, my thought was more on what it took for her to step out of her comfort zone and wash his feet with her hair and perfume. Maybe the expense was the easier part, I know it would be for me. I would rather give sacrificially from my pocketbook then step out of my comfort zone in obedience. To the Lord though, obedience is better than sacrifice. God wants me to obey His prompting.
The prophet Samuel reminds of this fact when speaking to King Saul who was offering a sacrifice from a place of disobedience. So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
I never thought about what led up to Mary taking this action; putting herself “out there”. Did she have the same internal debate that tried to stop her, that I struggle with? What was the factor that pushed her into such an extreme act of obedience? Certainly she had thought of how it would appear to others. Yet, she acted despite any precaution her mind might have tried to use against her. Could it be that she was more focused on honoring Christ because of the things He had done in her life? Reclining there with Jesus was Mary’s brother, Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. She was being intentional with her actions.
There are things in my life that I give verbal honor to God for; do my actions of worship match the intensity of my gratitude? Does it cause me to step out of my comfort zone and into obedience of the things He asks of me? I admit that is a challenge.
Roy T Bennett writes “The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones. We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”
The Lord’s yoke is easy. There is safety and security in Him. He will never ask of me something that will not ultimately glorify Him. I have to be willing to let go of my pride and submit to His humble requests. He doesn’t just want my expensive perfume, He wants my humble obedience. Only when I stop making excuses and step out of comfort will I be able to do great things for His Kingdom.
Prayer – Lord, teach me to humble myself before You. To give sacrificially through obedience, not just resources. I want to give You all glory and honor! Amen.