3While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her” (Mark 14).
I am sure that all of us have experienced memories of good and bad things that have happened in our past, simply by breathing in a particular aroma, odor, or scent. The smells that abound on a cool day as fall settles in, always brings back memories of a school outing at a local park. A good thing!
Recently at a men’s Bible study we were discussing these scriptures and one of the men pointed out that the aroma from this perfume likely would have remained on Jesus leading up to His crucifixion. I never thought of that before. What are the implications that arise from that probability?
“Pure nard had a strong, distinctive aroma, similar to an essential oil, that clings to skin and hair and continues to give off its heady perfume.”
“Pure nard had a unique fragrance, and the presence of its aroma was an indication that the very best had been offered.”
It might correctly be said that “as Jesus felt the whip lacerate His flesh, as He felt the nails pierce His hands and feet, He could also inhale the fragrance of that gift of spikenard and remember why He was doing this. Mary’s gift may have strengthened and encouraged Him, even throughout His horrific ordeal, as its strong scent still clung to His skin.” Day’s later!
I never truly thought about that before, have you? What about when they were in the guest room to eat the Passover just after this happened? The aroma from that perfume probably scented their gathering. An aromatic reminder to the disciples of Jesus’ coming death!
Then I think of Judas’ kiss of betrayal. Did he smell that pure nard remaining in Christ’s hair as he betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver? Did it remind him of what happened only hours ago and what Jesus said about it?
Was the scent still looming as Jesus stood before the high priest and the council? What conviction did they experience as they breathed in an aroma they would be all to familiar with?
And how about Pilate? As he asks Jesus if He is the king of the Jews he breathes in the scent of something very costly, something usually poured on those with a special anointing!
When I think through the implications of what, at first glance, appears to be a nice gesture but not to important, I am reminded of how much I miss when I “just read” scripture rather than “meditate” on it.