‘Then she dried his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the ointment’s fragrance.” (John 12:3)
Mary’s anointing is a prophetic act that is both a sign of Jesus’ kingship and its formal announcement. Anointing with oil or perfume had many purposes in antiquity. For kings and priests, anointing meant consecration for a specific purpose. The sick were anointed as a ritual of healing and the dead anointed for burial. Theoretically, Mary’s act could have meant any of these things. Jesus’ response adds an additional layer to our understanding of Mary’s actions. She has anointed his body for burial.
The story of Mary’s anointing stands in contrast to the idea of many Christians today that what matters most is belief in Jesus-and by belief we mean conscious, doctrinal understanding of Jesus. Mary’s faithful action is different. John does not tell us what she believes, and it seems beyond human comprehension that she could understand all that will happen to Jesus, and all that her actions evoke. Yet we see her enact a faith that resonates deeply with what we know of Jesus’ kingship and his death.
Most gracious and loving God, there are times in our lives when being extravagant is the only way we can express the profoundness of our love, the depth of our thankfulness and our continuing desire for more of you. So God, please accept the wastefulness of our worship of you. Amen.