Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
OK, let's set the scene here. Jesus had arrived again in Bethany. Remember, this is where Lazarus lives, right? But they're not visiting in Lazarus' home tonight -- they are in (according to Mark 14:3) in the home of "Simon the leper."
Ready? Let's dive in!
First of all, any self-respecting, Torah-believing Jew would not (not ever, never) eat at a leper's house. Unless the leper had been healed. Logically, if you asked him to pass you the dish of lamb, you might be opening yourself up to contracting a case of leprosy yourself.
So, if they were at Simon's house, it was because he'd been healed of the disease. Simon owed his life to the guest of the evening, Jesus.
Well, another guest that night also owed his life to Jesus -- Lazarus was there. You remember where he was in the previous chapter, right? In the tomb, until Jesus called him out!
Can you imagine being there at that dinner? Two men, each of them "one-upping" the other with their stories. Simon could tell about being healed of a "living death" of leprosy, and Lazarus could talk about being brought of his grave! That must have been the most sought-after invitation in town . . . wouldn't you love to have been there?
It was already a wonderful time of fellowship. Then something truly great took place.
A woman enters the room, presumably with bowed head and quiet steps. She is bringing Jesus a God-honoring offering. An extravagant offering.
She approaches Him, breaks open a very expensive alabaster jar, and pours the precious contents over His head. Then she falls to her knees before Him, pours the remainder on His feet, and wipes it with her hair.
Imagine the fragrance of the perfume filling the room; imagine now the tension filling the air.
Judas jumps to his feet to rebuke her.
But our Lord Jesus is every bit as quick to defend her. (Oh, how I love to see evidences that He steps in when we need Him!)
Jesus blesses her gift, and He then makes certain that this offering, this extravagant gift of love will be remembered forever. In Mark 14:9 we read, "I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
We're going to study about extravagant love this week. We can do special things for Jesus, too!