Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Spikenard was an oil extracted from the root of a plant grown in India. It was, as John notes, very expensive. It cost the equivalent of nine months of salary for a working man in Jesus’ day.
It’s hard for us to fathom. In today’s terms, it would be like spending $45,000 on a bottle of perfume. Who does that? You can buy a nice car for $45,000. So was her gift extravagant?
Did you know the most expensive hotel room in the world goes for $82,000 per night? It’s the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva. When I traveled in the US, I stayed at a Red Roof Inn or maybe a Motel 6. That’s about as extravagant as I get. Bill Gates has stayed at the Royal Penthouse Suite. He’s worth $79 billion, so it probably didn’t seem extravagant to him.
Extravagance is in the eye if the beholder. When we talk about something being extravagant, we’re usually talking about someone else; someone a lot richer than we are. Regardless of what other conclusions we might draw, Mary’s gift did not seem extravagant to her. She wasn’t trying to gain attention or to make a statement about her wealth.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
When Judas objects to Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet with the expensive perfume, Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
What can we say about Mary? She is all in, fully committed and she doesn’t care what others think. True love, deep love, honest love cannot always be explained. Even when you see it, you don’t always understand it. Judas had a good point, but so what? Love has its reasons and those reasons can’t always be spelled out.
Here is the fundamental difference between Mary and Judas:
Mary loved Jesus.
Judas loved money.
You can’t love Jesus and love money at the same time. Jesus said, No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Mary made her choice.
Judas made his.
I wonder what choice we have made?
Do you love Jesus?
Let your affections for him be lavish and extravagant.
And don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
Mary loved so extravagantly that it upset the religious leaders of the day. But that’s why we’re still talking about her 2000 years later. I’d say that’s a good testimony.