Mary’s heart began to overflow in love for Jesus.
Soon an entire jar of very precious ointment was being used to anoint the feet of Jesus.
A fragrance soon filled the room.
A sweet and rich scent tantalising each nostril.
She used her long hair as a towel…

This sense-heightening experience presents us with two very different views of what is going on in this house – on one hand we have the love bring expressed for Jesus by Mary, a powerful, extravagant love beyond measure and without thought of cost and on the other hand, we see people complaining about the amount of money that Mary is wasting on Jesus instead of using the proceeds of its sale to help the poor.

Now let’s be honest for a moment. Who do we see as being the most sensible in this series of events? Is the objection being made not valid? The money made from selling this luxury item would have fed a lot of hungry mouths. In John’s gospel, Judas is the one who complains. The author goes to extreme lengths to show Judas as a thief who would not be caring about the wellbeing of the poor in this situation but what he had missed getting his thieving hands on. Whether the authors’ comments are valid or not, what Judas or the people present in Mark’s account say is a fair remark.

But we have a piece of information that no one knew of before this intimate encounter began – Mary, without even knowing it, had just prepared Jesus for His burial. Mary may have known that Jesus was in serious trouble, but she did not know that He was to die in a matter of days! Suddenly, what the people were complaining about, has become appropriate for Mary to have done. Burials are to be treated with respect. On the occasion of somebody’s funeral, do we not do things in grander fashion than on other days? When Mary did this however, she did not know this. Yet, she took the most precious thing she possessed and spent it all on Jesus.

William Barclay, writes that “Love is not love if it nicely calculates the cost. Love gives its all, and love’s only regret is that it has not still more to give.” How would Mary have felt if she had been economical with her ointment only to discover that Jesus was to die just days later and she had not prepared him as well as she could have? By that point it would have been too late…
Do we count the cost of our love too much and too often? Love does not have to come in monetary form – we can love in the giving of our time, in the sharing of our knowledge, in the offering of our God-given talents and skills. Martha too loved Jesus, but she did not have a jar of ointment. She was however, a practical woman – she showed her love for Jesus by the work of her hands as she served Him at the table.
Love is when we know of no other way to give…