March 7, 2018
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Our featured Scripture is John 12:1 through 3:
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus, came to Bethany, where
Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was
one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound
of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped
His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of
We have delved into this Scripture before (see the blogs Relating To Jesus – I through III, October 28 through November 2, 2015), where we saw the three siblings of Bethany interacting with the Lord in three different ways:
• Service – “…Martha served…” (John 12:2).
• Fellowship – “…Lazarus…sat at the table with [Jesus]…” (John 12:2).
• Worship – “…Mary took a pound of oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair…” (John 12:3).
But now lets focus on Mary and her act of worship, especially on what is recorded at the end of verse 3: “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” Paul tells us in II Corinthians 2:14 through 16:
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every
place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those
who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the
one we are the aroma of death to death, and to the other the aroma
of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
There are already two blogs written on this subject (see Gospel Odor – July 1, 2013; and Leaving The Scent – October 7, 2014); but this idea is well worthy of another one – especially as it is related to Mary of Bethany! Here are some points that stand out to me:
• As Jesus said in John 12:7, “…she has kept this for the day of My burial.” (See also Matthew 26:6-12; Mark 14:3-8). At this time, so close to the crucifixion, Mary seems to be the only one who understood that Christ was destined to soon die!
✞ The twelve disciples didn’t understand (see Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 9:31, 32; Luke 9:43, 44; 24:4-11).
✞ The Jews, including their leaders, didn’t understand (see Matthew 27:39-44; John 6:26-66).
✞ His siblings didn’t believe in Him (see John 7:2-5).
✞ Mary’s understanding and belief in her Lord seems to stem from the time she spent as she “…sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” (Luke 10:39). There is nothing that will ever replace spending time hearing, studying, and meditating upon the Word of the Lord! (See Psalm 119:97-100; Acts 20:32; Romans 10:17).
✞ As it turned out, no one else got to properly anoint Jesus’ body for burial!
▸ He was hastily buried before sundown, the beginning of the Sabbath, upon which the Jews were commanded to do no work (see Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:42-46; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42).
▸ When the women came to complete the burial preparations, Jesus had already risen from the dead! (See Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-6).
If we are going to effectively spread the fragrance of the gospel of Jesus Christ to others, we must understand the purpose of His sacrifice! As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:3 and 4 (English Standard Version): “…Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…He was buried…[and] He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures….” These two verses encompass the basics! But remember, there is so much more to learn and master! (See Hebrews 5;11-6:3).
• The pound of oil of spikenard was very costly! According to John 12:5, it could be “…sold for three hundred denarii….” This was a full year’s wage for the laboring man! It seems that Mary gave everything that was available to her! This is another prerequisite to effectively spreading the fragrance of the gospel!
• “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” Everyone smelled the fragrance! Everyone was affected by Mary’s sacrifice! That’s what happens when the sacrifice is made on behalf of the Lord!
✞ Everyone was affected, but not everyone was blessed! Remember what Paul said in II Corinthians 2:16: “To the one we are the aroma of death to death….” Judas experienced the aroma of Mary’s sacrifice, and it…
▸ …hardened his heart to betray Jesus to the authorities! (See Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10, 11). This could be likened to Judas’ spiritual death!
▸ …ended in his tragic physical death! “Then Judas…was remorseful and…threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3, 5 – see also Acts 1:18, 19).
✞ Many were blessed, for the aroma was of life to life! For those who understand and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf, truly Mary’s understanding and sacrifice for her Lord is a blessing and inspiration! And Mary herself was certainly blessed! For she, according to Matthew 26:13 and Mark 14:9, would be forever mentioned as a faithful and understanding woman who sacrificed deeply for her Lord!
By what do you want to be remembered?