“Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair.”
There is a poker term called “all-in.” Loosely, it means that someone thinks they have a winning hand and bets every last bit of money they have on the table by pushing all of their chips forward and declaring “all-in.”
It’s a dicey move because if you are wrong, it’s your last bet. You have to believe the risk is worth it.
In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and John we get the account of a woman going all-in as she anoints Jesus. She is nameless in two of the accounts, only John tells us who she is. Mary. The one who sat at His feet while Martha stewed in the kitchen. Mary. The one who stayed behind, mourning her dead brother, instead of running to meet Jesus.
Mary somehow knows this will be the last time she will be with Jesus. She somehow understands what no one else does. That Jesus will soon die. She makes a risky decision and inserts herself into the male-dominated scene (again). She commits her reputation and a good portion of her financial well being in extravagant worship of Jesus.
Nard was an expensive and very fragrant spice imported from India and a full jar would have cost the equivalent of a year’s wages for a common laborer. To put that into perspective, in today’s dollars, depending on the index used, this can be estimated to be in the ballpark of $25,000.
Mary takes something precious and valuable, some will say it was her dowry, and pours the entire contents on Jesus. There was enough to anoint His entire body. She even breaks the alabaster container. There was no holding back.
The fragrant perfume invaded the whole house. There was no escaping it.
Then she does an unthinkable thing for a respectable woman. She let her hair down and wiped the oil with it. Such a task was normally relegated to the least of the maid-servants
Mary has gone all-in.
Shock reverberated around the dinner table. The silence, as everyone looked on, turned to grumbling and criticism.
“What a waste.” some said. “That could have been better spent.” others said.
Jesus said, “Stop criticizing her, she has done a beautiful thing. She gets it.”
We don’t know what happens to Mary after this. We don’t see her again in Scripture. She isn’t mentioned at the crucifixion, the burial, or the resurrection. She isn’t mentioned in Acts or any of the later writings. For us, her story ends with going all-in.
Not knowing the rest of Mary’s story let’s us wonder. It lets us insert ourselves and ask,
We might not know exactly what happened with Mary, but we do know that her love and worship blessed Jesus and he in turn blessed her. Was her risk worth it?
Jesus said her act of worship would be remembered and discussed wherever the Good News is preached.
And it is, isn’t it? We are still talking about it today. We are still challenged by it today.
Oh that we might be willing to risk financial security in our extravagant worship of Jesus!
Oh that our love poured out is powerful enough to invade a whole house!
Not knowing how Mary’s story ends lets Jesus write our ending. The possibilities of how our all-in worship will impact our world are limitless.
Jesus went all-in for us. Will we do the same for him?
What can you do today to extravagantly worship the Lord?
Linking up with Suzie Eller over at #livefreethursday today.