This wordless expression of love had to have been a gift that Jesus’ heart desperately needed as he was about to face his final rejection—alone.
We can probably assume that because of the very similar recounting of the story of anointing in the gospel of John that this woman is Mary of Bethany—Lazarus’ and Martha’s sister. The Mary who had so controversially sat at Jesus’ feet to listen as her sister served, and who would later see her brother raised from the dead. She certainly has reason to be grateful, but more than that, she has allowed herself to be changed, change by love deep in her core.
What we see here is an act of pure unselfish love and devotion as she pours out on Jesus what would have been a very expensive, rare and special jar of ointment called spikenard. Probably brought there all the way from India by camel caravan along the infamous Silk road.
It may have even been an heirloom. But Mary, despite what others may think, or the cost to her, breaks the neck of the costly and beautiful flask, hand carved from alabaster, and pours it on the head— and according to John’s gospel—even the feet of Jesus, and then wipes it in with her hair. Quite unbecoming really, especially for a young woman from a respected household.
But she did not care what others thought, how they would respond. She was not just pouring out scented oil—she was pouring out her heart. She desperately wanted to pour out her heart, to express her barely contained love for this Messiah, and this was the most lavish and sincere way she could think of to do that.
And her heart won the day; her heart was listening to the Spirit and her mind came in line and complied.
And she was derided for it by those who saw with their eyes but not with their hearts. But she was blessed by the one who mattered, the one who saw her heart—Jesus.
It would probably be the only true and pure expression of love and devotion he would receive that entire tumultuous last week of his life. It had to have been a gift that his heart desperately needed as he was about to face his final rejection—alone.
And this love was expressed without a single word spoken. Words are necessary, yes, but they are but a trigger and a reminder of what cannot truly be expressed by mere words.
Love is felt, not heard. Best expressed with the eyes—through which one can see into the soul. It is best received with a look or a touch when the words cannot come because the feeling is too deep. The deepest and truest expressions of love are communicated heart to heart. That’s what Mary was doing here for Jesus.
You all know that look, that feeling, the depth of emotion and conviction that can only pass between a husband and wife, a child and a parent or grandparent, between brothers and sisters in the Lord—those who share a common heart, a like mind and a spiritual bond—when there is something powerful between you that no one else can understand or know but the two who share it.
It’s a love that finds its origins in our God. And it is the love he has for us, the look he has in his eyes when he sees us, if we’ll only take the time to look back at him and respond with our hearts and not just our heads and lips.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8
Because if we don’t connect on a heart and soul level with Jesus, we’re missing the whole point and our responses will be way off target.
8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Mark 14
Because Mary followed her heart and did what she could. Because she did not let her head get in the way as some of the men were doing, and convince herself that this would be an extravagant and foolish waste that really accomplished nothing but making Jesus smell good for a while, embarrassing herself in the process—her mind knew it was a big gamble—because of this, she was fulfilling a prophetic and important act that no one could possibly know the significance of but Jesus.
She was anointing him for his burial a day or two later. And giving him what would be the last and only sincere measure of comfort and assurance he would receive at the hands of another human before his brutal arrest and execution.
Because Mary listened to her spirit and allowed herself to know the truth, she was moving in the prophetic without saying a word. Think about that… next time you are moved to act on something the head doesn’t understand.
This seemingly insignificant act of foolish waste was an anathema to the well versed chosen twelve. But Mary was one who knew what was important. She knew when it was time to talk and time to listen. She knew when it was time to work and time to sit. She was the one who was chided by her sister Martha for sitting at Jesus’ feet listening, while Mary fretted about the work to be done.
Mary was the one who unashamedly and passionately threw herself, weeping at Jesus feet, laying it all out there; “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died!”
In that moment, hers was a broken, passionate and honest heart that moved Jesus to share in her grief and would spur him on to do his greatest miracle yet—raising a man long dead and buried from the grave.
Mary knew when it was time to connect with her Lord. And this day in the house of Simon the leper, was one of those times—not for her, not for her brother, but for her Lord—they both needed this.
We could all learn a valuable lesson here. If our relationship and time spend seeking and being with our Lord is always to see what we can get—then it is not a true heart response to the love we are so freely given. And it is not a response that is influenced or inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Everything Jesus says, is and does points to one thing–He loves you, right now, just as you are..
And when you realize it—when you understand and open the eyes of your heart to see that Jesus is ever standing before you beckoning you come, cheering you on, praying for you, holding your hand and always teaching you things that will make you wiser, stronger and prepared for the challenges to come in the courtyards of the priests, in the quiet moments when the enemy tries to whisper that you need to take things into your own hands because this Jesus and Holy Spirit stuff is just whatever—you fill in the blanks—when you recognize the love in the eyes that are looking at you from within your very heart—then you will respond like Mary did, and you will finally know what it truly means to be loved.