Mary had her faith tried hard but vindicated beyond expectation. Lazarus was not just healed from his illness but raised from the dead. Jesus possessed a greatness she never anticipated. What she saw left her eternally changed and grateful.
She could never repay Jesus, but she wanted to show her gratitude in a unique way. She chose a rare perfume which cost a year’s wages, poured it over His feet and wiped His feet with her hair. This act signified her subjection to Jesus at her deepest level. It was a public act of thanksgiving for a work of Jesus like no other.
Mary now understood in a deeper way who Jesus was: her long-promised Messiah. Her submission to Jesus was not one of subservience, but of release and freedom. By trusting Jesus beyond her comfort zone, she prepared herself (and us) for an even deeper revelation of Him in a few days.
A little later, the Gentile followers of God said, “We would see Jesus.” Long excluded from the temple, these true followers knew Jesus was their only hope of gaining access to the Father. Soon, they would rejoice in thanksgiving as the veil of the temple would be torn in two from top to bottom, giving them access to God along with the Covenant People.
Jesus’ next act would not just resurrect Lazarus. He would destroy the work of the devil. Since the days of Adam, the world lay in the bondage of corruption and death. Now, Jesus would free the whole world from Satan’s stranglehold. He would release the captives, proclaim sight to the blind, set free the oppressed. He would pour out His Holy Spirit. He would establish His ekklesia and bring the kingdom of God on earth, through ordinary men, women, children.
The world has never been the same since Mary’s thankful heart helped pave the way with her jar of rare fragrance. From that day, the rare fragrance of the gospel has spread from Mary’s house to the entire Roman world and beyond.
Mary’s act of gratitude and submission and the Gentiles’ seeking after Jesus contrast sharply with the reactions of just about everyone else who should have known better. Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ own disciple, witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection, but he condemned Mary for wasting her money. The chief priests refused to recognize Jesus’ divine authority and saw Him as a threat.
The following Sunday, Jerusalem crowds waved palm branches to welcome Him as king, but they saw Jesus’ miracle only through their own limited political expectations and hatred of their Roman oppressors. In a few days, their “hosannas” became, “Crucify Him!”
Soon, their hard hearts and blindness to Jesus’ authority and Messiahship, and their lack of thanksgiving to Him would bring needless tragedy. Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus and commit suicide rather than repent. In 70 AD, the Romans would destroy the temple and its corrupt system. Starvation and bloodshed would destroy the people of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation, many of them turning on each other.
This grim lesson from history is clear: only a spirit of thankful generosity towards God leads to further revelation, freedom and fellowship with Him, extending to more and more people who catch our spirit. Let us call upon Him to give us the thankful and generous spirit of Mary.