Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. (John 12:3)
Of the three virtues that will outlast the world--faith, hope and love--the Bible declares that the greatest of these is love. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all our being. Love is the all-encompassing command. It distills all God’s expectations down to one word. The content of Scripture can be summarized as God loves us, we are to love Him, and if we love Him, then we love those made in His image. John 12:1-8, in the act of Mary, provides a beautiful illustration of loving Christ.
THE LIFE THAT LOVES IS MARKED BY FULLNESS. She had a pound of luxurious oil and she didn’t spare an ounce, lavishing it all on the Lord. Such love is extravagant (v.3-5). The price was equivalent to a year’s salary. My love for my wife moves me to buy her roses, to take her to a fancy restaurant, and to place gold and diamonds on her fingers. If we love Christ, we will be willing to give extravagantly of our time and treasure in serving Him. When was the last time it cost you to serve God?
The fullness of such love is also exclusive. Mary only poured the oil on Jesus. She did not share it with the disciples. My wife and I have exchanged vows of fidelity. If we would give ourselves to another that would be adultery! Jesus, likewise, demands our exclusive affection—or it is spiritual adultery!
THE LIFE THAT LOVES IS MARKED BY FRAGRANCE. The perfume permeated the place. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 14-16 that we are the fragrance of Christ—a perfume to believers and a stench of death to the wicked. Such a life produces attraction. Writing the account years later, John can still smell the aroma in his memory. We are drawn to this story like bees to nectar. We do not know what Mary looked like in face and form, but there is a beauty that is heavenly in her soul that is eminently attractive. So our lives need to draw people to God. We need to be winsome in order to win some. This kind of life further produces antagonism. The self-centered Judas is repulsed by Mary’s deed. He thinks this is fanaticism. Those who despise Christ will denigrate those who love Him. People may be attracted by our testimony or angered by it—they won’t be apathetic to it! The life that loves Christ makes a difference.
THE LIFE THAT LOVES IS MARKED BY FELLOWSHIP. What are the features of such fellowship? Note her position. She kneels at His feet. We submit to Him as Lord, when we truly love Him. Also, there is her perception. Only Mary perceived the message of the cross and resurrection that Jesus had been teaching about, and so she anointed Him for burial. Intimate fellowship brings deeper insight into the ways of God. Further, this love life features her passion. Christ was her life! Our love for Him cannot be tepid—it demands to be aflame. Then, we see her praise. In Mark’s account, Jesus says, “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.” (14:9) We are fulfilling that again today.
Will we respond to Jesus like Mary did?