Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 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. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
(John 12:1-11 ESV)
Laughter rang through the house as the men reclined at the table. Scrumptious smells filled the room as Martha cooked and served and hustled and smiled.
Her brother. Alive. In the company of the teacher.
Mary, the quiet one, watched the scene the way people-watchers do. She saw the details. The way Lazarus handed the bread to Jesus. The way the disciples leaned in to hear the conversation better. The way Jesus turned to include even the quietest one in the conversation.
Maybe, just maybe, she saw a hint of contempt flash across the face of Judas.
Soon, the house filled with a scent deeper and stronger than the peppers and spices of Martha’s kitchen.
For reasons maybe she never fully understood, Mary had broken open a jar of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus with it.
One by one they sniffed the air, turning their heads to follow the smell and finding Mary at the feet of Jesus, pouring the perfume and wiping it with her hair.
Only one reacted – and that with contempt.
What a waste!
Why wasn’t this sold for the poor?
“Leave her alone!” came the response. Crisp. Clear. Unambiguous.
Leave her alone.
As much as I want to be Mary, I’m Judas.
Judging people’s actions by my own tainted ideas of right and wrong.
Who needs a gas-guzzler like that? The mom with four kids under 8 who all need to sit in car seats.
How can they spend that much money on a dinner when there are people starving? They’ve been blessed and are generous with their money among many local charities.
Don’t they have anything better to do with their time than play video games? They’re just relaxing after a long day at work.
Judas scorned Mary for what he saw as waste. Jesus praised Mary because Judas’ idea of waste was really an act of love if you took in the whole picture.
How are you like Judas?
How can you be more like Mary?