I’m moved again by the young girl from Bethany, pouring her costly perfume of spikenard over Him just days before His death. She knew who He was. And her response alone showed Him the extravagance fitting for His identity, while the brothers ‘round called it waste (Jn. 12:1-8; Mk, 14:3-9).
To the One who once knew shared-glory with His Father and endless “holy” cries of the heavenly hosts, this broken flask of spikenard came without alarm. Excessive, yes. But not excessive in error. He knew who He was. And such excess was not new to Him but ancient. Always in the ages past was He adored with such extravagance. The fragrance of Mary’s offering was reminiscent to Him of something so familiar in His place of exaltation in Heaven. For incense perpetually arose before Him, ascending day and night. Surely, no seraphim or mighty angel would have challenged Mary’s offering. It was good and right.
Even so, a newness came with this perfume poured forth that must have so deeply touched His holy heart. For though such generous worship was always known before He took on flesh, these lowly years of obscurity were vacant of such profuse adoration, so fitting for His identity. And oh the gap that fragrance closed! Spanning from the throne of eternity past to this humble Nazarene in one sweeping statement of His worth.
Hers was a gift that would long outlast the indignation and long remain after the guests of this dinner went their separate ways. After all had forgotten the bottle broken, the drenching fragrance poured upon Him would remain. To the Cross He would carry this treasure. And as He would hang His life so vulnerably upon that tree, His sweat and blood mingling down, He would not be without this sweet reminder and consolation of the worship of one little girl who loved Him and saw who He truly was.
This story of Mary’s moves me, not just by way of remembrance but by way of invitation. For now is a window of time not without room for such seeming waste and excessive sacrifice. Mary stood between the two times of His lowliness and His exaltation. I stand between the two times of His Resurrection and His Return. And once again, it’s His worth that seems most forgotten. When this sort of excess is lacking, His beautiful worth goes without rightful witness. I’ve a moment to give my all, though it may be called waste. I’ve but this small window of time to not settle with decent admiring but sink my all into profuse loving.
We’ve all this invitation. And though costly, this invitation embraced becomes the highest privilege conceivable. He receives it and even allows it – our love and our prayers – to adorn Him. For just as Mary’s perfume filled the house and then clung to Him upon the Cross – that pinnacle moment of His first coming, our prayers and sacred love fill the temple of Heaven even now, as burning incense. And when He comes again, descending to the earth from His holy habitation, like the dew of the morning, fragrance will again envelop Him. Out of the ivory palaces, this One fairer than the sons of men will come, His garments scented with fragrance – the very fragrance of our love and our prayers (Ps. 45:8; Rev. 5:8; 8:3,4). Like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, He will come, on the day of His wedding, the day of the gladness of His heart (Song. 3:6, 11; Ps. 45:8).
This window before us will one day close. Even as it closed for Mary and all the others. After the resurrection, what was once called waste was now called absolute wisdom. Now in the delay of Jesus’ Return, a wasted life yet again bears a stigma, perhaps even evokes indignation. Yet at the splitting of the skies with His Appearing, all eyes will behold His true worth and once again, excess will be viewed not as error but as overwhelmingly right.
It’s time to pour out our love excessively, that the returning One will be adorned worthily.