Summary: Mary of Bethany gives us an example of intimate, dedicated, loving worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She demonstrates that our worship should always be centered on Christ and reflect our personal commitment to honor Jesus in how we live.
By Michael K. Farrar, O.D.
© God’s Breath Publications
John chapter 12 is a transition in the life and ministry of Jesus. The first eleven chapters of John’s Gospel cover three years of the life and ministry of Jesus. In John chapter 12 the Apostle now covers less than a week of Jesus’ life in this one chapter and then covers three days in chapters 13 through 20. Also in this chapter Jesus begins to shift His ministry from public ministry to more personal mentoring and discipleship of friends and followers.
After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus had withdrawn from populated areas and went into hiding. Plans for His arrest and death were being made by Jewish religious leaders and Jesus knew His Father wished Him to fulfill His calling according to specific historical timing. Here in John 12 we find Jesus returning to Bethany and the company of friends and followers for a dinner to honor him. Present at this dinner with Jesus are Simon the Leper, Martha, Mary, Lazarus and the disciples. Also present outside the home was a large crowd of Jews, some seeking to see Lazarus, the man raised from the grave by Jesus, but also chief priests who were planning to have Lazarus put to death as well as Jesus.
Following are the three passages that record the anointing of Jesus by Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.
“6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? 9 "For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor." 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 "For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 "For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 "Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
“1 Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, "Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people." 3 While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4 But some were indignantly remarking to one another, "Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 "For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they were scolding her. 6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7 "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8 "She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 "Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." 10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.”
“12 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5 "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?" 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7 Therefore Jesus said, "Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 "For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me." 9 The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.”