Here they were several days before Passover, Jesus has left Jerusalem after being met by the people crying “Hosanna”, He has gone into the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers while reminding them that the Temple is a “House of Prayer”, Jesus is now headed for Bethany.
Jesus went to Bethany a lot. In my mind Bethany was a place where Jesus knew He was loved, a place where he could go and get a great meal by Martha, be greeted with brotherly love from Lazarus (whom he raised from the grave) and spend time with Mary, who hung on to His every word and to just let His hair down. While no one knew of the impending Crucifixion, Jesus knew and He went to the place that gave Him comfort and joy.
The scene is at Simon the Lepers house and there are not many people that would want to visit let alone have dinner at a leper’s house, but here Jesus was with His friends. The virtuous and supreme homemaker Martha was making one of her scrumptious meals and perhaps busying herself to make sure this dinner was perfect. Simon the Leper, Lazarus and Judas were sitting around talking and about all the signs and wonder’s that Jesus had performed and then there was Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet.
Jesus knew His fate and perhaps had an overwhelming sense of what was too come, in a room of preoccupied friends and a betrayer. These were people who He had taught, ministered to and even one who he had resurrected and He is in His hour of human need, and there was no one to minister to His humanity, except Mary. As an attentive student and out of the fullness of her Love for Him that she opened her alabaster box and poured onto Jesus an expensive bottle of spikenard perfume oil. As the oil began to drip down his body, she lay at His feet and began to wipe them with her hair. By this point the entire house smelled of the fragrance. Mark 14 states that they were infuriated with her pouring the perfumed oil over Jesus, stating “why would you waste such expensive oil”? Jesus said, “Leave her alone she has done a good thing, the poor you will always have with you always, but you will not always have me”. He further said, “Where ever the Good News is proclaimed throughout the world, it will be told in her memory.
In my mind, as Jesus walked the Via Doloroso; (the path of suffering) carrying the heavy wooden cross to Calvary and as he hung with nail pierced hands and feet, it was the smell of the perfumed oil that was poured on Him like praise from Mary’s alabaster box that replaced the the smell of death to remind Him that He was Loved.