3Being in Bethany at the house of Simon…as He sat at the table, a woman [Mary of Bethany; Jn. 12:3] came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard [perfume]. She broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4Some [apostles] were indignant…and said, “Why was this…oil wasted? 5It might have been sold for…300 denarii [a year’s wages] and given to the poor.” They [apostles] criticized her sharply. 6Jesus said, “Let her alone…she has done a good work for Me…9Wherever this gospel is preached…what this woman has done will be told as a memorial to her.” (Mk. 14:3-9)
- Very costly: The perfume was worth 300 denarii (a year’s wages). Jesus told His disciples that He was to be crucified in two days (Mt. 26:2). Mary seems to have been the only one who heard Him and thus she poured her perfume on Him (the fragrance was on both of them at the cross).
3Mary…wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance… (Jn. 12:3)
- Mary broke her most precious earthly treasure over the One who was her greatest treasure. The perfume was probably her inheritance, thus representing her financial security. I imagine her saying to her friends, “I have Jesus, He is good enough for me. My future is in His hands.”
- Criticized: The apostles appealed to serving the poor as their reason to criticize her extravagance; they appealed to a scriptural mandate to serve the needs of the poor. All who love Jesus like Mary will receive criticism from others who love salvation, but who do not deeply love Jesus.
- Why this waste: Anything above the minimum commitment is seen as an “unnecessary waste.” To “waste on Jesus” money, exceptional musical talent, or a brilliant mind with good career opportunities is regarded by some as an unnecessary waste of one’s life and talents.
- Let her alone: Jesus vindicated Mary just as He did John the Baptist (Mt. 11:19). Jesus will vindicate the lifestyle of extravagant devotion to Him in this age and especially in eternity.
- A good work: A year earlier (in Luke 10), Jesus had commended Mary for choosing the “good” part in sitting at His feet to hear His word; she developed her personal history in God in this way. Principle: Unusual acts of devotion come from cultivating a spirit of devotion as a lifestyle. Her lifestyle of choosing good by hearing the Word equipped her to choose good in other things.
- Memorial: Mary’s extravagant devotion is remembered by others because God remembers it.
- What are you wasting your life on? People seeking to live with extravagant devotion to Jesus are not content with the minimum requirement of salvation. Rather, they ask, “What is the most that God will empower me to give Him?” Or, “How far will You let me go in devotion to You?” They give themselves to God without regard for cost. Wealthy people obtain what they want without regard to its cost. They do not have to look at price tags when buying clothes or cars, etc. How do you waste your life? Make it your life vision to pour yourself out on Jesus like Mary did. J. Hudson Taylor said, “Only one life will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last.”