12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 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.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. (Jn 12:1–11).
The Apostle John gives us a glimpse of the dynamic of faith and love in action when he recorded this notable occasion, this a very dramatic insight into how Mary was willing to give sacrificially for her Lord. Mary shows that she is willing to part with a very expensive product for the sake of Jesus. Nard cost about six months wages and, was often purchased by a family and used sparingly each time there was a burial. Nard was an expensive perfume and certainly was not normally poured out copiously upon a person. Mary in her devotion to Jesus was breaking all the conventional rules. Judas is such a contrast to Mary here we see someone who is dishonest, trying to argue that the money should have been given to the poor, if that had been the case the money would have passed through his hands and he would have taken what he wanted. The question is wether the poor would have received anything, judas was on the lookout for himself. Mary’s actions are all Christ centered, here she displays her love in a way that is costly for her because she sees the importance of Jesus and what he is doing. She probably did not realise the full significance of what she was doing. We don’t know how much she believed about the future for Jesus. However, she wanted to express her love for Jesus in the most extravagant way possible to her. Jesus at once realises the significance of this act, he knows what is before him and he knows that he needs to be prepared for his coming death and burial, Mary’s act is seen by him as one of those preparatory acts.
This story gives us some insights into the nature of a truly vibrant yet humble faith, all that Mary does is Christ centered, she takes the place of humility at his feet. She makes no claim on Jesusbut she acknowledges who he he is and her need of him. This story of course is part of the preparation for the culmination of the gospel story, the death and resurrection of Jesus. It shows to us that willingness that early Christians had to give everything for the cause of their Saviour.
The references to the poor puzzle some people because they feel that surely Jesus cared for the poor, yes he did and still does. Moreoverministry to the poor is most effective when it comes from hearts consecrated to God. The history of revivals shows this time and again as do present day charities such as Christians Against Poverty and Tearfund, These two British charities have very different missions but both are guided by their desire to follow Christ and put him first in all that they do. The example of Mary calls us to give up all and follow Jesus wherever he calls us to go.