The Sweetest Perfume

12 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 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.

When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

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.

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3 comments on “The Sweetest Perfume

  1. Amen! He paid the highest price….and Mary had a revelation of what He was about to go through – she took the opportunity to waste herself, all she had, her most precious perfume, on Him!

    When we see the Lord’s preciousness, when we see what He really is, as we sit at His feet and absorb His words, we will waste ourselves on Him! To others this might look as a waste, but to us it is a fragrant testimony of His sweetness….

    We love You, Lord Jesus!

  2. The meat offerings of that day foreshadowed Christ’s sinless body that would be the only acceptable substitute for our sins. Oil that was poured on the altar symbolizes Jesus’ anointing by the Holy Spirit. The burning of the animal also represents Jesus’ obedience, even unto death, that was a sweet smelling aroma to the Father. Some of the meat offered as burnt offerings was used as food for the priests. What a wonderful reminder that Christ is our Daily Bread! The word “altar” comes from a root word meaning “a place of sacrifice”. Today you and I don’t need to bring an animal. But God tells us in Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Just as in Moses’ time when sacrifices were given to God daily, we must bring ourselves to the Father daily, offering our lives up to Him. Our sacrifice is our flesh – the carnality that we still must deal with on a daily basis. When we offer our fleshly desires, emotions, thoughts, attitudes and actions up to the Lord He consumes them. This is a vital part of the process of growing in intimacy with Him because, “no flesh should glory in His presence.” – 1 Corinthians 1:29. Only the fire from the Brazen Altar was used to ignite the altar of incense in the Holy Place. Anything else would be strange fire, and not acceptable to God. What does this mean for you and me? It means that we cannot offer true worship or true intercession until and unless we first offer ourselves as sacrifices. This requires brutal honesty, laying aside all pretenses and excuses, and agreeing with God that we have fallen short of His glory. In other words we have sinned. It is the place of total surrender.

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