What Does Jesus Expect From Us?
“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.” John 12:3 (NIV)
Every year I count on a special gift from my husband: a small, 1-ounce bottle of my favorite perfume. If I limit myself to a few careful squirts a day, I can make that beautiful scent last the entire year.
The last thing I would do with something so precious is pour it onto a man’s feet (yes, even the feet of a man I love). But that’s exactly what Mary of Bethany did.
Just six days before the Lord’s crucifixion, Mary of Bethany broke her alabaster jar of perfume and released every drop, saving nothing for herself. Ounce after ounce drenched Jesus’ skin, soaked the hem of His garment and pooled on the floor around His heels. With the fragrant perfume running through her fingers, Mary anointed and massaged His feet right there in front of God and everybody.
Friend, it was scandalous. And glorious.
Was this aromatic substance cool to the touch or warm? Sticky or silky? Only Jesus and Mary knew how it felt. But everyone knew what it meant. I love You, I honor You, I worship and adore You.
And she wasn’t finished. Following the same path as her perfume, her dark hair spilled across His feet, as Mary of Bethany “wiped his feet with her hair” (John 12:3a). The original Greek simply reads “the hair of her with the feet of him.” Yes, that’s it. Her hair. His feet.
Since a woman’s hair, then and now, is closely tied to her sense of self-worth, Mary was quietly letting go of self — her longing to be looked up to, her desire to be attractive, her need to be liked.
This devout follower, this beloved sister, used her long hair to dry a man’s feet, the lowest job for the lowliest servant. She laid her whole being before Him: her pride, her reputation, her social standing, her clean hands, her pure heart.
“And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3b). In fact, the scent carried right out the door, since the aroma of spikenard oil could travel half a mile away. Their neighbors in Bethany no doubt lifted their heads and sniffed the evening air.
Today we marvel at Mary’s story and stand in awe of her sacrifice, but we’re also left wondering how we could ever hope to duplicate it. Her perfume was “worth a year’s wages” (John 12:5b, NIV) — about $30,000 in today’s currency. Is that what the Lord expects us to do? Give up everything we have?
Yes. But don’t panic.
Everything we have comes from God — our possessions, our bodies, our talents, our spiritual gifts, our everything. So, He will provide what He intends us to sacrifice, and He will give us the strength and courage to let go. That’s how amazing our God is. He is “… able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV).
What does Jesus expect from us? Only what He’s already given us.
Lord, we long to be as generous as Mary of Bethany, pouring out our lives for Your glory. Help us trust You to provide what’s needed, certain You will fill our hands and hearts with every good thing, so we may give them back to You with joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 12:1, “So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him — an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way.” (ERV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Jesus said of Mary of Bethany, “She did what she could” (Mark 14:8a, NIV). He knew exactly what she could do and expected no more — and no less. What has the Lord provided that He might be asking you to sacrifice as an act of worship?
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