3 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. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:3-8 NIV)
It seems like the past few days I’ve come across a repetitive theme while reading John’s Gospel. Jesus couldn’t please everyone. It seemed like everything He did, everything He said, stirred a variety of reactions in people. Then again, Jesus didn’t speak or act for the approval of people. Today, as I read John 12, I see the same reality present in Mary’s life. Mary took an expensive bottle of perfume, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and then wiped His feet with her hair. (Judas was appalled–Jesus was honored) Mary didn’t weigh what others would think about what she did before she did it. She loved Jesus. She willingly gave something very precious to her.
Judas spoke up and pointed out that Mary had wasted something that could have been sold and used to feed the hungry. Jesus defended Mary’s act with a vengeance. Did Jesus defend Mary’s actions because the perfume was so expensive? Not at all. I’m reminded of another lady whose generosity caught Jesus’ eye. In Luke 21:1-4 we read about a woman who gave two tiny copper coins.
1 As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV)
There were folks with deep pockets who were giving at the temple that day, but Jesus didn’t shine a spotlight on any of them. He saw the poor widow. He noticed the two copper coins, not worth a “plug nickle” and yet priceless to Jesus. It wasn’t the value of what was given, but it was the condition of the heart that gave it that mattered most to Jesus. We can give some very impressive gifts, but if our hearts aren’t right then the gift has no real value. On the other hand, we may not have much to give at all, but if what is offered is given with a caring, loving heart then the gift becomes priceless. I don’t have much, but what I do have is this one life that has been given to me so that I might “pour it out” as a daily offering to my King.
Lord, my prayer today is that I might see my life as a great gift to be given as an offering to You.