Do we smell?
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:3 (ESV)
Nard, or spikenard, was the ointment that Mary used to anoint Jesus. It came from the Himalayas and was highly valued and highly priced, costing about a year’s income. This act of Mary’s was more than just washing the feet of a traveller as they were welcomed into a house; Mary was displaying, for all to see, the adoration she had for Jesus. It was an act of worship that expressed her love, and as she wiped his feet with her hair, she demonstrated her utter humility before him. Letting down her hair in public was a shocking thing to do in those days.
After she anointed Jesus’ feet, he would have smelt of the fragrance of her sacrifice, and the house would have been filled with the perfume. Mary’s hair would have soaked up the perfume too, and her head covering would have probably absorbed it as well. As she moved, the scent went with her. For a while she might have been pointed out as the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive oil, until at some point the perfume was washed out of her hair. And even if bystanders knew nothing about the incident, they might have recognised the smell of the expensive perfume and asked why.
Later on, Paul likened our journey through life to a Roman triumphal procession when victorious troops marched through Rome leading their conquered enemies, and incense was burned all along the route. ‘…thanks be to God,’ he wrote, ‘who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.’ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
And as with Mary, so with us: the effects of our relationship with our Saviour can be on us. We too can exude the aroma of Christ.
Saviour, may the perfume of our relationship with you emanate from us more and more as we go through life. Amen
Study by Hilary Buck
About the writer:
Hilary Buck is an Elder, and pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street
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