“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus』 feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 2:3
Mary’s beautiful outpouring of worship at the feet of Jesus happened not too long after He raised her beloved brother, Lazarus, from the dead. It was also close to the time that Judas would betray Jesus. It was not long before Jesus would be arrested, crucified, buried and resurrected.
Mary did not understand it all, but Jesus defends her actions to the dissenters around her later in the same chapter. As recorded in verse 8 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”
Mary did not fully understand the will of God concerning her Lord, but what she did know was she was in the presence of her Savior. She had a beautiful opportunity to worship at His feet, and He was certainly worthy of her best. She was moved to worship and she responded.
The perfume that Mary used was made from the root of a rare plant that grows at the foot of the Himalayas. The plant only produces a small amount of essential oil called nard (also informally 『spikenard』). Nard has to be dug up and extracted from the tiny spindle like roots. To this day the essential oil, in its purest form, can run more than a thousand dollars for a pint. I can not even imagine the monetary worth of a pint of nard in Biblical times, but to say that it was a costly gift — a gift fit for a King, is an understatement.
Essential oils make wonderful fragrances. They do not wear off or smell like acetone or alcohol after time like our modern colognes. Oils do not wear off and they carry their scent for days, sometimes. Mary’s hair was full of that scent for possibly days. Remember she poured an entire pint and used her hair as the means to swab the scent on Jesus』 feet.
I learn a lot about worship when I contemplate the actions of Mary that day. First, I consider how she worshipped at the feet of Jesus. She did not presume to be worthy to be at His side, but she worshipped at His feet. At His feet are where His children feel at home. Do I sit at His feet daily by reading His words and praying to Him?
Second, Mary used an item in her home as a method and expression of her love and worship of Jesus. She did not have to go out and find something, but rather she found a priceless item in her home to give to Him willingly. What is my precious and priceless thing? My time? My reputation? My work?
Third, Mary did not know that Jesus』 death was imminent. She was not told any information that His disciples did not know. She was not told exactly what was coming, but she knew that worshipping Jesus was always the right thing to do and no time was wrong for it.
She worshipped Him in the presence of doubters, naysayers and betrayers, and for her reward she was defended by her Lord. As a matter of fact the one, Judas, who was less than a week away from betraying Jesus was her most vocal opponent in this act of worship. Do I stand firm in my worship? Do I allow the subtle or not so subtle protest of doubters and naysayers distract me from my love for the Lord or influence me away from His feet?
Last, the scent of Mary’s act of worship would have followed her. It filled her home, it was a scent of beauty to those around her. Between her and the Lord, they knew it was costly for her. The scent of an oil like that does not change or morph, but it stays true to it’s origins. How does the scent of my own worship wear? Does it fade and morph into something unpleasant to those around me, like self-righteousness or pride? Does the scent of my worship bless those who come near me?
Today, take a moment to pray and study His Word. Pray and ask the Lord to help you to seek after Him more than anything else. Worship Him in all His splendor and sit in awe at His feet. When you get up from your time of worship, think about how you can carry that time into the rest of your day. Will your children benefit from that time? How about your husband? Or your Neighbor?
Find out what your valuable things are, offer them freely to the Lord and see what wondrous things He performs with nothing more than a willing heart and an open hand.