Days before his betrayal and death, Jesus and his disciples were eating at the home of Simon. A woman, who is identified as Mary, approached Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, worth about a year’s wages. Mary broke the jar, pouring the perfume on Jesus. In the ancient Near East, the act of anointing someone signified selection for some special role or task. Kings were often anointed with oil as part of their coronation ceremony.
In John’s account of this story, Mary wipes the feet of Jesus. Anointing the feet models service, discipleship, and love. For a culture in which a woman’s touch was often forbidden, Mary dares to hold the feet of Jesus in her hands and spread the oil across his ankles and toes with the ends of her hair. Rather than measuring out a small amount of oil, Mary breaks the jar and lets it all pour out. She’s all-in, fully committed, sparing no expense.
I am not sure what the equivalent of this moment would be in modern culture, but it would be appalling. The shock of the onlookers. The feeling of watching a sacred and personal moment. The anger at the waste of resources. I can only imagine that I would have been one in the corner fussing about how Mary was doing it wrong.
But, I have Mary’s in my life. They are generous, bold, gracious, servant women that in spite of the norms or the comfortable, they choose to jump in the middle of a touching moment to honor and revere those they love. Women like Mary, that surpass the appropriate and pour out their love and generosity in self-sacrificing ways. I’ve seen them in the hospital room and the nursery. I’ve witnessed them in moments of pain and celebrations. I’ve seen the way that they hold a hand through the diagnosis and refuse to walk away.
In each of these moments, I have watched as the rest of the world stood by with their list of norms and to-do’s and could not understands. I’ve been witness to onlookers wondering what was drawing them to a kind of servanthood that is foreign to most of us. Do you know of this kind of love? The kind that causes you to give up something precious all in the name of expressing the gift of relationship.
The coming days are hard.
We will eat.
We will pray.
We will sleep.
We will deny.
We will forsake.
We will weep.
It will be a long 3 days. So, for tonight, may I encourage you to spend a moment with the Savior. Pour out your love for Jesus in a new way. Walk deeper into the truth that he is worthy of giving your best for. And sit at his feet for a moment, oily hair and all.