A while back, I told a friend that I tithed. This was not a Christian friend mind you, so his reaction was: “what a stupid waste of money!” I’m sure he was thinking that I could better spend that money on the poor, the lottery or myself. He was actually grieving over my choice; the loss of pure income. He did not share my priorities. He thought I was insane. You would think that after three years, the disciples would have figured out Jesus’ priorities as well. Guess again.
Jesus and His disciples were spending the evening in Bethany at Simon the leper’s house two days prior to Passover (For some reason, I believe that Simon was no longer a leper). Anyway, along came Mary of Bethany and she anointed Jesus with an alabaster jar of pure nard.
Nard was worth 300 denarii in those days, equal to 300 day’s wages for the average field worker — essentially, a years wages. Once the jar is broken, the fragrant oil must be used, and use it she does.
The disciples, lead by Judas Iscariot, saw this as a “waste” of money and complained that it could have gone to the poor — maybe to some of Simon’s leper friends. Jesus saw Mary’s act as an offering of worship. She gave her most precious earthly possession to Jesus freely. Mary had her priorities straight. Jesus would only be here a little while longer. The poor would always be here. Jesus knew that. Mary knew that. Jesus was not saying; “don’t give to the poor,” but rather, He wanted people to give their primary focus to the Lord. In doing so, helping the poor would become an automatic thing because attitudes would be changed.
Two days later, Jesus sent His disciples to Jerusalem find a man with a water jar who would lead them to a huge upper room that had already been prepared for the Passover feast. Do you think the disciples could find one man in a city the size of Jerusalem, complete with tons of visitors? Sure — men never carried water jugs! That was woman’s work in those days. He would have been easy to spot. And what are the odds that this non-traditional man would have a huge upper room prepared for no one in particular at a time when rooms were booked months to years in advance? Most would have bet against it, yet God provided it.
Mary had prepared Jesus for burial with the nard, even while He was still alive. God had prepared Jesus’ last meal through miraculous, unusual circumstances. In the previous chapter, Jesus prepared His disciples for life after His departure. There’s a lot of foreshadowing going on here. There is definitely a plan in the works, and it’s God’s plan for our salvation. Thanks be to God!