Unveil the symbolic richness of Jesus' ministry and Mary's profound act of devotion, highlighting true discipleship and sacrifice.
John 12:1-3 — Fragrant Devotion — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 12:1-3. Listen.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 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.
This passage is rich in symbolism yet profound in its simplicity. Several themes intertwine to reveal the heart of Jesus' ministry and the nature of true discipleship. Jesus is at Mary’s house, obviously the guest of honor, and the presence of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, serves as the backdrop to the setting.
Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and wipes them with her hair. It's an act of extravagant love and humility, demonstrating a discipleship that goes beyond mere duty to a deep, personal devotion. In a culture where a woman's hair was considered her glory, Mary's action of using her hair to wipe Jesus' feet is a powerful expression of self-abandonment and worship.
The act challenges us to consider the depth and nature of our devotion to Christ. Are we, like Mary, willing to offer our most precious possessions and even our pride in an act of worship? Mary's offering was costly, not just in monetary terms but also in societal and personal terms. How does this compare with our walk with God? Are we willing to give that which costs us greatly, be it material wealth, reputation, or comfort, for the sake of honoring Christ?
There is another important element to this story. John says the fragrance of the perfume filled the house. It is a sensory reminder that the influence of Christ, like the aroma of the perfume, is meant to fill and change the atmosphere where his followers are. Again, this presents a challenge to us: does our presence carry the 'fragrance' of Christ in a way that transforms our surroundings?
Interestingly, this account contrasts Mary’s intimate act with the broader context of Jesus’ impending death. Mary's action is not just personal piety but a prophetic act, anointing Jesus for his burial. This offers a profound insight: the smallest acts of devotion and love have their place in the grand narrative of God's salvation history.
God bless you.