Reading: John 12: 1-11
Verse 3: She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair.
Today’s story is one of extravagant love. Mary is a good friend of Jesus. Jesus had a special connection to this family from Bethany, to Mary and Martha and Lazarus. This family appears several times in the Gospels. In our passage today, Jesus is on His way to celebrate the Passover. It will be His last stop at Bethany. Perhaps Mary has a sense of this. She seems to be aware of much concerning Jesus. She was the one who sat at Jesus’ feet and she was the one who brought Jesus to tears outside Lazarus’ tomb.
As they are reclining after dinner, Mary shows extravagant care and love for Jesus. She pours some very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. On the surface, this is perplexing. Why would someone pour perfume worth a years’ wages on someone’s feet? These feet will soon be covered in dust and dirt as Jesus makes His way to Jerusalem. And then she kneels down and dries His feet with her hair. This is extraordinary. Jesus gladly accepts her gesture and even defends her for showing such great love.
Mary’s action may seem extreme, but it is just the kind of love the Jesus demonstrates over and over and over. A son takes his share of his father’s wealth and squanders it away on wild living. Instead of tossing aside this foolish son, Jesus paints a picture of a father that waits longingly for the son to return and that throws a big party when the prodigal son does come home. A disciple struggles to forgive another again and Jesus says not to just forgive a few times but to offer forgiveness over and over and over. One out of a hundred is lost and instead of rejoicing over the 99, Jesus shares the story of the good shepherd searching until he finds the one. And instead of scolding the one for being lost, he gathers it up in his arms and joyfully carries it home. Story after story of extreme, radical, extravagant, extraordinary love. Mary was just following Jesus’ example. It is how we are called to live out our faith as well.