February 11, 2022
But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor." But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her" (Matthew 26:8-13).
The parallels to this event are found in Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:2-8. In those texts we understand that the perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus was nard or ‘spikenard’. The ‘nard’ from which this liquid perfume was made, is a plant of the East Indies, with a small, slender stalk, and a heavy, thick root. The best perfume is obtained from the root, though the stalk and fruit are used for that purpose as well. It was the costliest anointing oil in antiquity and was sold throughout the Roman Empire where it fetched a price that put it beyond any but the wealthy. Mary had bought a vase or flask of it containing 12 ounces. Mark 14:5 tells us that the perfume was worth 300 denarii - a year’s wage for the common man in those days.
While Mary was sensitive to the time and events that would lead to the crucifixion of her Lord, the disciples weren’t. They were ‘indignant’ (aganakteo - very displeased; grieved). What is curious is that the 11 disciples took their cue from Judas Iscariot (John 12:4). Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? which was a good question to ask. However, his motive for criticizing Mary was greed; he was the treasurer of the 12 and a thief to boot. He stole from the treasury to supply his own personal needs.
Someone once said, “Critics are men who have failed.” Such was Judas Iscariot and the other disciples who chimed in with his criticism of her. To be completely honest, the criticism was not only directed to Mary who anointed Jesus, but to Jesus as well because He received the anointing without rebuke or complaint. What stone cold hearts! What callous spirits these men who walked with Jesus had, that they would be critical of anyone who paid honor and tribute to Him!
Criticism too often is the result of an utter inability or incapacity to appreciate others. It comes from an inferiority complex on the part of the critic. Someone said, “Control and manipulation are earmarks of the critical spirit.” Judas felt that his ‘bag’ had greater claims than the Lord. Then again, as a thief he couldn’t understand that there are some gifts that cannot be sold but lose their sacredness the moment you put them on the auction block. The alabaster box had to be broken and the precious ointment had to be given to the One most deserving of it. Selling it to give to the poor is noble, but in truth the poor would have never received it since Judas Iscariot would have control over it and would have spent it on himself.
“Lord Jesus, may our lives be a sweet offering to You and spent to honor You above all else. Amen.”