Okay, the guys in this picture haven’t figured out how. Have you ever washed someone’s feet? How about spending a year’s salary on the perfume and using your hair as a cloth?
Steve Lewis is a good friend of mine who had the courage to lead the Bible Study at our house last week. He did great research on John 12:1-8, the story of when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, washed Jesus feet. He pointed out that Mary washed Jesus’ feet and the Lord responded by saying her act would be remembered for all time. If it pleased God that much, we should do the same. So our group discussed how we might be able to have the courage to wash Jesus’ feet with our hair.
Since we can’t do what Mary did literally, we needed to get at the essence of what she did so that we could replicate that. Steve challenged us to view this scene from Mary’s perspective. With facts provided by Steve to lead the way, our group came up with these steps:
Don’t be overly intimidated by the spiritual giants around you. The raising of Lazarus was a big deal, bigger than other times Jesus did that deed because Laz had been dead for four days. So, Lazarus was somewhat of a celebrity. So were the disciples, the guys who had done miracles themselves. Mary, being a woman, had little standing in that room full of men. It would have been natural for her to be less than bold, and we pictured her wavering in her decision. But Mary overcame.
Be more in love with Jesus than you are with the things that you do for him. There’s that story in Luke 10:38-42, where Martha complained to Jesus that Mary should be helping her serve. That was probably a story from this same celebration. Jesus told Martha that Mary was doing the right thing. Martha was doing what was good, but Mary was doing what was best: absorbing every aspect of her Lord.
The same thought comes in this version of the story when Judas objects to the cost of Mary’s perfume. Jesus must have confused everyone with his response since he had always talked about the importance of taking care of the poor. But that only drives home his point. Nothing must surpass your love for your Savior, not even compassion for his people.
Know that those who criticize you aren’t always who they seem to be. Can I get an amen? Steve pointed out that on this side of history we know who Judas was. But they obviously had no clue (except for Jesus, but that’s another study!) since they trusted him with the money. What Judas said lined up with Jesus’ teaching as far as taking care of the poor are concerned. But Judas used truth to fuel his own outrage because he loved money more than God. He didn’t object on behalf of the poor or even on behalf of God, but on behalf of his greed.
Sometimes your childlike faith gives you more insight than the knowledge of Solomon. Steve had us take attendance of who would have been in the room that day. The disciples had being under Jesus’ teaching for three years. There were certainly Old Testament scholars in the room. But the only person that got Jesus that day was this lowly woman. She was the only one who took Jesus at his word when he said he would die soon. Jesus and Mary where the only ones who realized the urgency of these final days. She believed it not necessarily because she understood all of it, but because Jesus had said that’s the way it would be.
That’s how you wash feet with your hair – dirty, sweaty, smelly feet of first century Palestine. It’s not in the method, but in the motive. Mary caught on to the significance of the moment and did all she could to show her love for her Savior and friend.
Our group wondered if Jesus could still smell the perfume a week later as he was being arrested in the Garden. Maybe he remembered her awesome act as he caught a whiff of the perfume from his hair clinging to his face while he was being whipped. Perhaps he was encouraged by the fragrance as he struggled to lift his cross from the ground on the Via Dolorosa.
Maybe Mary remembered too. The smell was in her hair, and like a teenage girl who vows to never wash her hand that has been touched by her favorite rock star, Mary held on to her incredible act as long as the fragrance would last. How many people noticed that Mary and Jesus had the same perfume that day, linked by their mutual love?
I wanna be linked with Jesus like that. I want to do what seems to be crazy to those who don’t feel the same urgency Mary did. I want my extravagance for His cause to be observed and misunderstood by most. I want to be bold like Mary, because Jesus wants me to.