Why This Waste?

We know from John’s Gospel that this woman was Mary, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, whom Jesus had just raised from the dead (John 12:1-3; 11:1-45). She and Martha were apparently serving the meal in Simon’s house. The Gospel of Mark tells us that the perfume was worth a year’s wages (Mark 14:3-9). The alabaster jar, which was broken to release its contents, would also have been very costly (Mark 14:3). Perhaps Mary was pouring out the major part of her dowry upon Jesus’ head and feet (see John 12:3). The entire action breathes a spirit of deep devotion, lavish love, extravagant affection. Not content with anointing Jesus’ head, she anoints His feet as well. (John 12:3). Having sat at Jesus’ feet to listen to His teaching (Luke 10:39), and fallen at His feet to lament His absence when her brother died (John 11:32), Mary now lingers at His feet to wipe them with her long tresses – a woman’s glory (1 Corinthians 11:15). Why this “waste”? What prompted this worship? Mary had surely heard Jesus teach many times, and learned from others what He said. His words brought life and light and love into her hungry heart. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (6:20, 33). “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (11:28). “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up” (17:22). “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (20:28). Having heard about His many miracles, and seen Him bring her own brother out of the tomb, Mary knew who Jesus was; what He could do; and what He was about to suffer. Her smitten heart simply had to offer to Him all she had. Shall we do any less?