Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always. John 12:7–8
The world around us—that we can see and touch—seems very real to us. But the Bible tells us that there is another world that will last forever. How do we move our focus from this temporary world to the real, eternal one?
In this final week of Jesus’ public ministry, the Lord attended a supper in the town of Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. During the meal, Mary approached Jesus with a bottle of expensive perfumed oil. She poured the oil on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair, “and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (John 12:3). Mary’s behavior wasn’t standard protocol, but she wasn’t concerned about that. She was expressing her deep love for Jesus.
Expressing Her Deep Love
Jesus’ disciples still did not understand that Jesus was about to die, let alone be buried. Judas actually saw Mary’s offering as a waste. I could have had a piece of that, he thought. But Mary had an insight into what was going on that the apostles didn’t. “Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She has done this in preparation for My burial.”
Mary’s sensitivity was due to more than the fact that she was a woman. She was spiritually sensitive because every time she had a chance, she was focused on Jesus. Her habit of sitting at Jesus’ feet had developed Mary’s spiritual sensitivity to the point that she was the only one who realized Jesus was about to die.
The day after the supper, Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem. When the people who had arrived for the Passover heard that Jesus was coming, they took palm branches, and as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, they cried out, “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:13).
Jesus had always downplayed His identity, but now, for the first time, He allowed this public display of His messiahship. This was His appointed time. At the wedding in Cana, He had said, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). Now, as He entered Jerusalem, He said, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (John 12:23). Jesus had known all along that everything was moving toward this climax, during which He would glorify the Father by offering up His life for the sin of the world.
Amid the crowd’s excitement, Jesus reminded His disciples of the spiritual reality taking place: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).
Let It Go
Did Jesus mean that we are to think, I hate myself; I’m ugly and fat and dumb? Certainly not. Jesus meant that we must relinquish our life—we must let it go. Jim Elliot, a young missionary who, with four friends, gave his life to bring the gospel to the Waodoni Indians of Ecuador, said it well: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Jesus lived every day of His life on earth in view of another world: the real world, the eternal world. This is the world that Mary saw and Judas despised. Our world is temporary, although it constantly seeks to make us think that it is permanent.
When we are first saved, the reality of eternity is at the forefront of our minds, but as time passes and we get caught up in the busyness of life, sometimes that reality becomes dimmer. In His grace and mercy, God at times intervenes and reminds His people that He is alive, that He is working. He did that in a major way in Southern California in the early 1970s. And we pray that He will do it again.
Be Like Mary
We need to be like Mary—sitting at the feet of Jesus, taking in His Word. It is there that our eyes and our hearts will be opened to the things of eternity.
How is your time with the Lord? If you have become too busy with activities and need a fresh reminder of spiritual realities, let go of anything that is cluttering your life, and become more like Mary, taking every opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet.