12 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (John 12:1-3)
The story of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume brings to mind the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ to receive our love and affection. It brings to mind the need for us to be broken so that our lives may be poured out in honor of Christ, just as the perfume was poured out to bring forth the sweet smell. This act of sacrifice filled the house with a sweet aroma, just as God’s spiritual temple, the ekklesia, is filled with a sweet aroma when we sacrifice for Christ and each other.
Certainly, this was a very sweet perfume!
But was it the sweetest?
Remember later that Jesus disrobed in an upstairs room and knelt down to wash His disciples’ feet, a very lowly task for Israel’s Messiah. In fact, it was so far below what Peter thought was respectable for the Messiah that he initially refused the gesture.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
And Jesus did just that, although He did not do it in that upper room. Jesus went on and suffered the vile, tortuous, inhumane Roman crucifixion. And as Jesus became sin itself and declared, “it is finished”, His side was pierced and His blood flowed.
Behold, the sweetest perfume to ever anoint anyone!
Behold, the crimson flow from the true Spotless Lamb, who has washed us from head to toe, just as Peter requested.
Behold, the eternal, perfect, blood of Jesus Christ that washes away our sin, guilt, and shame, and ushers us into new life.
Just as the woman sacrificed her most costly possession to pour out on Jesus, our Lord sacrificed His own life-flowing blood to be poured out for our sake. Has there ever been a more costly ointment than the infinite life of God?
We, whose righteousness is like filthy rags, have been washed clean and clothed in true Righteousness.