The remedy to taking for granted is the giving of thanks.
I believe the place where we often find Mary provides the evidence of the condition of her heart. Let us first look to the Gospel of John.
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” John 12:1-8 (NIV)
One might argue that Mary went to the extreme. You notice that others prepared a meal in Jesus’ honor. They provided a hospitable occasion. We also know from the presence of Judas, that the other Eleven joined the feast. And yet, even with a well-planned and well-attended feast, Mary felt the need to do more.
Do we understand her actions? According to John, she took a whole pint of some of the best perfume and anointed Jesus. As she did this, she anointed His feet. I mentioned a location where we find Mary often; this is the place!
Do you recall Luke 10? There we find Jesus visiting the home of sisters Martha and Mary and we see, as described by Luke, Mary sitting “at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” Jesus told her sister that Mary chose wisely.
There is another occasion where we see Mary (perhaps the same one) at the feet of Jesus. Look to the chapter before our text.
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.In John 11, Mary fell at Jesus’ feet as a grieving sister.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. John 11:28-33 (NIV)
In Luke, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet as an eager student.
In John 12, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet as a devoted worshipper.
Each time she sat at Jesus’ feet, she displayed her trust in and love for Him.
The John 12 text shows Mary not only as a worshipper but also as one filled with gratitude. Why was Mary so thankful!?
1. Jesus raised her brother from the dead!
2. Jesus willingly embraced her as a student (disciple).
These reasons for gratitude opened her to a receptivity not known by all. While rebuking the greed-driven Judas, Jesus tells him that Mary poured out the perfume in knowledge of His burial. Mary recognized, better than most, the path upon which Jesus walked. I believe, by the gift of the Spirit, she knew she was anointing the Savior of the world.
Whatever the extent of her knowledge of things to come, we know she knew enough to turn a hospitable meal into a worship service; and she spared no expense! She also refused letting her pride hinder her praise.
I imagine that there were others in the room, besides Judas, who looked askance as Mary anointed Jesus’ feet.
I met a man in Anchorage who told me that when he felt led and felt that he needed to offer great thanks and worship to God, he would go to Flat Top, one of the mountains overlooking our town, and he would sing and dance before the Lord. I think of David dancing before the ark!
Are we that thankful?
You and I cannot anoint the feet of Jesus and we may choose not to dance on a mountain, but we can pour out our praise to The Teacher and Savior and Lord. Will you bring your best and come to the feet of Jesus? Learn from Mary, the woman of faith. She will show you where to reside . . . At His Feet!