This story is based on John 12:1-8, Matthew 26:6-13; and Mark 14:3-9.
Anointed at Bethany
“Where will we go now, Master?” asked Thomas.
“To the home of Simon. There we will partake of a meal. Lazarus and his sisters will be there,” Jesus replied.
A smile worked its way to my lips. “Hmm,” I thought. “Lazarus and his sisters have always been generous.” I imagined the weight of extra coins in my bag and a new pair of sandals on my feet, or perhaps a new tunic. This one was showing obvious signs of wear.
We approached the home and Mary greeted us at the door, throwing her hands around Jesus’ neck as if he were a close relative. I don’t know why he doesn’t reprimand her. What would the church leaders say if they saw this? I remember when we caught him speaking with that Samaritan woman. If this ministry is going to get anywhere, he’s going to have to stop that kind of thing. The leaders won’t stand for it.
“Come,” said Mary. “The servants have already prepared water to wash your weary feet.” I sat on a bench in the antechamber waiting my turn for foot washing. The aroma of roasted chicken and warm bread caused my mouth to water.
I always enjoyed a visit here. Beautiful tapestries hung on the wall and the room was filled with the finest furnishings. Pillows covered in fine linen carefully lined the table making reclining more comfortable. Lazarus was there with us, and Martha scurried back and forth keeping the platters full.
I leaned toward Matthew. “Martha would make a great wife for some lucky man, you know.”
“And I suppose you’re hoping to be so lucky?” teased Matthew.
“Perhaps,” I said.
“Not to mention wealthy,” he chuckled. “I can see your mind ticking.” He punched me playfully in the shoulder. I just rolled my eyes and punched him back when the room grew silent. I looked at the Rabbi and there was Mary, kneeling at his feet. She carried a beautiful alabaster jar. She opened it and poured its contents on his feet. My mouth dropped open as its fragrance filled the room. That was nard! Then she reached up, unbound her hair, and began to wipe his feet! I looked at the men around me. Somebody had to say something! This was absolutely preposterous! Surely, Jesus would put a stop to this! But he just sat there. I couldn’t take it anymore. Mary needed to be held to account for such waste!
“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” I challenged. “It would take a year’s worth of wages to buy that much nard!”
The Rabbi looked at me, his eyes piercing to my very core. “Leave her alone,” he reprimanded. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. She did this to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
I sat there seething. This time the Rabbi had gone too far. I decided then and there that something had to be done. I’d visit the chief priests soon, very soon.