It was six days before the Passover. It was a special moment of reunion for every Jew. The city of Jerusalem was buzzing in festive mood. Jews who needs to go through purification reach Jerusalem in advance as the purification process takes seven days. No unclean man can enter the temple without going through the purification process. The city of Jerusalem during the time of Passover gets overwhelmed with people. Jews who were scattered around many nations gathered together to celebrate passover. The high priest wanted to avoid Jesus Christ’s arrest during the Passover (Mat 26:5). Any resultant riot might lead to stampede due to city’s heavy population which could lead to many deaths. But the high priest instructed people to look for Jesus.
Jesus though knowing all these was not ready to hide. He was spending time at Bethany with his close friends, which is just three Kms from Jerusalem. Jesus attended a dinner hosted by Simon who was healed from his leprosy. The name Simon the leper never appeared before in Bible. Jesus along with disciples were attending the dinner. Just few days before Jesus raised Lazarus alive four days after his death. This made Jesus very popular name around Bethany. Hence there was more crowd during the dinner to see Jesus. Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary were also present.
The dinner was served in Roman tradition with Jesus in reclining position. In a reclining position, head was generally supported with left hand and the right hand is used to take the food kept in the table near the recliner. As usual Martha was busy serving. Martha’s sister Mary took a very expensive nard, broke the alabaster container where the nard is stored and poured it on Jesus’s head and feet. She wiped the perfume with her hair. The room was filled with aroma. The nard was an aromatic oil extracted from plants grown in those days only in India and China in the Himalayan region. It was really expensive considering it had to be extracted and transported all the way to Judea from Himalayan region.
Bible says the nard was almost worth of one-year wage which is approximately 300 denarii. Judas who was one of the Jesus disciple could not understand, why would someone pour such an expensive and precious nard on Jesus feet? Why Jesus did not stop it? Jesus clarified both the questions. Mary unknowingly and prophetically contributed to the burial of Jesus Christ. Large amount of money was spent on Jewish burial to make sure the body does not get decomposed quickly. They add expensive perfumes to protect the body from decomposition. Mary out of her devotion and humbleness she poured the expensive nard and wiped Jesus feet with her own hair. She sacrificed one year’s worth of wages to anoint Jesus. While others murmured and questioned the principle, she applied during that situation Mary focused on her own devotion for God.
This was an occasion to honor Jesus. Many people would have expressed their gratitude through many ways during the supper at Simon's house. But Mary was special. The way she expressed her gratitude reflected her devotion and love for Christ. It was the same Mary who preferred to sit at Jesus feet than getting caught up in many duties. Jesus commended her devotion. Are we caught up in many Christian activities that keep us busy? Our Lord loves our devotion and our commitment to spend time with him alone than other activities that will keep us away from him.
This was six days before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
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