Sweet-Smelling Servanthood

Read John 12:1-8, the passage Rev. Stephenson preached from this past Sunday. (No Bible handy? Click the reference, it will take you to BibleGateway.com where you can read it online.)

Rev. Stephenson called Mary’s outpouring of perfume on Jesus a sweet-smelling act of servanthood. A new idea to me, seeing this act of worship as service. An act that blessed God.
So I look at her today, and think:
What exactly was it about Mary, and this act of service,
that pleased Jesus so much?
Here’s what I see…
Mary served, without thought to her own reputation.

Jewish women did not let down their hair in public. This is an expression of devotion that would have come across as extremely improper and even somewhat erotic, as indeed it would in most cultures. … John’s focus on her anointing Jesus’ feet points to Mary’s great humility. As she has come to realize a bit more of the one who has been a friend to her and her brother and sister, her faith deepens and she recognizes her unworthiness.

— The IVP New Testament Commentary


Mary served, without thought to what it cost financially.

Judas tells us the perfume was worth a year’s wages. According to The IVP New Testament Commentary, the equivalent in today’s market would be about $10,000, the rough pay for someone working at minimum wage for a year.


Mary served, with a heart of love, joy, and gratitude.

The picture of Mary… is a devoted disciple who ignores the taboos of her society in her commitment to Jesus. … Both aspects of her action — the extravagance and the method — were disturbing.

 — The IVP New Testament Commentary

The expression of such devotion, without regard to what others think or the cost to self, can only originate in a heart of love bubbling over with grateful joy!

She had seen His saving power personally. He raised her brother from the dead. Therein lies the root of Mary’s sweet-smelling servanthood.

How much more grateful should we be?
We stand on the other side of the cross… on the other side of the empty tomb…
For those of us in Christ… it is our own empty tomb…. that we stand before.

How does this truth affect your heart of service?
How does your servanthood measure up to Mary’s?

Maybe we have some growing to do…

Father God, help me understand more fully the reality of being alive in Christ. Grow me to be a loving sweet-smelling servant who blesses You.

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