The Value of Nard 

Monday, July 31                            

John 12:1-11 tells us how Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anointed Jesus with nard, a very expensive perfume.    Mary, along with sister Martha and brother Lazarus had believed and were very close to Jesus.  He must have spent a good deal of time in their home and loved them.  This occasion was to honor Jesus because of his raising Lazarus from the dead.  We don’t know a whole lot about this family, but they were evidently well to do people.  Mary is the focal point of this account.  She must have been the sole owner of the nard.  She wouldn’t have given it had it been family owned.  That sacrifice reveals a lot about Mary.  One, it was not normal for anyone of her social standing to wash the feet of a guest.  That was a menial task assigned to a servant.  (It was what made Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet so meaningful.)  Two, it was most unusual for a “decent” woman to let her hair down.  Women just didn’t do that in public.  By doing that, she showed extreme humility.  Three, it would have been normal to pour the perfume on his head rather than his feet.  Jesus’ comment on this is significant.  He related it to his death and burial, which was only a few days away.  Did Mary understand that?  The disciples didn’t understand it at this point!  Four, to use her hair to wipe his feet would have been unheard of in that society.  Mary’s love for Jesus made her oblivious to cultural standards.  She had a single focus, to show her love to Jesus.  Judas was a total contrast to this.  He said this valuable treasure could have been used for the poor.  But his words didn’t represent his true feelings.  Just as this account reveals Mary’s loving heart, so did it reveal Judas’ evil heart.  So why did John include this event?  How does it fit in with his stated goal in John 20:31?  “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ . . . and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  Mary believed and was radically changed.  What a testimony of God’s power to change lives.  Other significant elements of this account that are germane to John’s goal: 1) mention of Jesus’ immanent death.  2) exposure of Judas as a thief.  3) a valuable learning experience for the disciples. 4) More Jews believe in Christ (v. 11).  So how valuable was that nard?

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