Matthew 26:6-13 / Mark 14:3-9 / John 12:1-8
Mary’s ointment was worth approximately a year’s salary. Yet she had no intention of slowly using it for herself. She breaks the container and pours the entire contents on our Lord, starting with His head, and ending up at His feet. By sacrificing the most precious thing she owns, she is pouring out her love on the Savior. This beautiful act blesses everyone with the sweet smell of the perfume filling the house.
But the sweet smell was a stink in the nostrils of the ignorant. In rebuking Mary they are also rebuking Jesus. If this is truly a “waste,” then Jesus must not be worth the value of the perfume. If anointing Jesus is unnecessary, He should make her stop. However, extravagance to and from a king was expected and praised (2 Chronicles 9:1-22 / Esther 2:12). The gift which Mary lavishes upon our Lord is extravagant for her worth, but not for His.
We see that it was Judas who incited the disciples. They didn’t really understand Jesus yet and so they didn’t understand Judas yet either. Judas appeals to the pious notions of his peers in a way that masked his own greed. For Mary to pour the perfume out meant that part of what might be his was “wasted” on Jesus. This puts the whole picture of who Judas was into place. He wanted to get what he could for his own little kingdom.
How awful it must have been for Mary to hear the scorn poured out on her after pouring her love out on Jesus. Of course, her Savior was her defender here as well. Her heart was right, and Jesus even gives her credit for something she might not have fully understood at the time. Consider this incident and the weight Christ places on it, later reinforcing it by example (John 13:1-15). Mary has a greater “sense” of what is about to happen than do the Lord’s disciples.
Unbelievers and apostates sometimes claim to be on a higher moral ground than the Bible. Jesus does not minimize caring for the poor. He simply points out that this was the opportunity Mary had to show her love as she desired. One of the implications of, “the poor you always have with you” is that we can’t pay everyone’s debt, only the extravagant love of Christ can do that.