Matthew 26:1-13. Matthew says it was two days before Passover. We know, however that Passover is on Thursday and celebrated as Maundy Thursday. A lesson on how the Jewish calendar and clock works. Our Wednesday begins at 12:00 midnight a.m. and will end at 11:59p.m. In Jewish timekeeping in Bible times, the next day began at sundown. So at sundown on Tuesday, that began the Jewish Wednesday. So, it could be that Matthew’s reference has some credibility to it that the Passover would be in two days. John, writes in his gospel that this event occurred six days before the Passover. Whenever it actually occurred, let’s not miss the point here.
Heard in another sermon on this text: Jesus is visiting with his friends in Bethany, a little shanty town less than two miles outside Jerusalem. It’s where Lazarus and his two sisters lived. It’s also the home of a man named Simon known as the Leper. Obvious one who had been healed or he would not be hosting guests. Jesus and His friends have been invited there for a meal. Lazarus is part of the group around the table. Can you imagine the conversation. A leper healed and a dead man raised to life. In comes Mary moved by the moment, she’s the one who approached Jesus with an act of extreme worship.
This perfume (we’ll call it “nard #5”) that Mary produced wasn’t common. It was usually an oil, perfumed from an herb that grew in the Himalayas – somewhere around India or Tibet. Mark and John record in their gospel account that this was “pure nard.” Matthew & Mark say it was in a bottle made of “alabaster,” also from that area. It had to be imported from very far away. That made it valuable – the business minds in the group quickly figured it was worth a year’s wages – probably the investment of her life’s savings. The power of its smell gave it away as she poured it out. There was only about 12 oz. of it, but it was worth a fortune!
Picture Mary breaking open this vile and pouring it over Jesus’ head, then, there’s still some to be used up, so she uses it on His feet as well, until it’s all gone. She didn’t bring a towel, so she does something else extreme – she lets down her locks of hair in public. Women just didn’t do that. And she wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair. Mary poured out more than a year’s worth of wages that day — She poured out dignity and pride and gave it up to Jesus. She knew what she was doing. It wasn’t a mistake. Several around the table were sure she had done something wrong. The standout was Judas the materialistic thief that he was, who led others to complain. Matthew records “to what purpose was this waste?”
Let me tell you what is a waste! Jesus dying on the cross is a waste if you do not acknowledge that he did this to redeem you from your sins. Jesus dying on the cross is a waste if we just keep on sinning. Jesus dying on the cross is a waste if we bring to him a level of commitment that is limited. Jesus dying on the cross is a waste if you are always finding a way to dismiss the need or importance or significance of serving God. Jesus dying on the cross is a waste if you get all excited about Easter, the resurrection, the hope of eternal life and the next Sunday it is not important enough to come back to church and worship God. Jesus’ death on the cross is a waste when you refuse to repent of your sins and be baptized. Jesus’ death on the cross is a waste if sin is more what you want. Jesus’ death on the cross is a waste if your intention is nothing more than to worship God on Easter Sunday.