Why was Mary’s Gift so precious to Jesus?

by Shadia Hrichi

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV

Have you ever lingered over a Scripture, trying to imagine what it would have been like to be there? One of the darkest hours in all of human history was the night of Jesus’ arrest. Picture the scene with me:

On a moonlit night at the garden of Gethsemane many years ago, blood, sweat, and tears poured forth from Jesus’ body as He prayed – but something else penetrated the veil of darkness that night: the sweet aroma of Mary’s perfume. . .

In Old Testament times, only two objects were placed behind the heavy curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Temple: the ark of the covenant and the golden altar of incense (Exodus 40:5, Hebrews 9:4). The incense was burned only once a year on the Day of Atonement. This is when the nation would present a fragrant offering with their sacrifice, seeking God’s forgiveness for their sins.

In Mark 14, we read about Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Mary entered the room where Jesus was having dinner with his disciples. Breaking her alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and all cultural norms, Mary lovingly emptied the contents. She anointed Jesus’s head with the fragrant oil.

Mary’s act was far more than a kind gesture of respect and adoration. The gift was equivalent to a whole year’s salary and possibly tied to her hope for marriage—her hope for a future. It was often saved for a young woman’s wedding day when she would pour it on her husband as an act of devotion.

Mary gave Jesus the most precious thing she owned—with no hope of any return in this life. Yet only One noticed the value of her extravagant gift: Jesus. Where the disciples saw a fool, Jesus saw a worshiper. What the disciples called waste, Jesus received as a gift. Jesus saw Mary’s heart. He saw Behind the Seen. Jesus was so taken by her selfless act that He declared her actions would be proclaimed for all eternity (Mark 14:1-9).

The story doesn’t end there. Days later, Jesus fell to his knees as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. We cannot even imagine the torment of His soul knowing what awaited Him. Perhaps the fragrance of Mary’s sweet perfume lingered in the air around Him as He awaited His accusers. Hours later, Jesus is crucified … His blood, sweat, and tears intermingled with the faint aroma of Mary’s perfume.

The King, the Christ of God, who is the Sacrificial Lamb, had been anointed and then crowned with thorns as He presented His own life as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. At the moment of His death, the Temple curtain that veiled the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom; the barrier separating us from a holy God was removed forever. The One Who loves us so deeply was willing to pay for us with His Own Blood.

“ . . .Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2 ESV).

One sacrifice paid it all. Have you received God’s extravagant gift? He is Jesus, Christ the King, the Son of God.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: Are there scents that bring something from your past to mind?