First Baptist Church of Herndon

681 Elden St., Herndon, VA 20170-4722, Phone 703-437-3620

Monday of Holy Week 2021 Perfume

Sean Roberds | Mar 25, 2021



John 12:1-8


Mary Anoints Jesus

12 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them[a] with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it[c] so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”



Jesus goes to the home of Lazarus to share a meal with the three siblings Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  No doubt this meal is a way to thank Jesus for bringing Lazurus back to life.  Yet in a meal celebrating the return of life to her brother, Mary anoints Jesus for his death.  This scripture is both a celebration of a life saved and the anticipation of a life lost.  I think the smell of the perfume sums up the tension of the moment.   “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. ”  The perfume was used for burial. Perhaps some of the same perfume was used for Lazarus’s burial.  The beautiful smell pleases the nose but tells the mind that death is near. 

We feel this tension today. In Holy week, as we remember the death of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection.  We feel it in the pandemic too.  We celebrate the coming of the vaccine and the new life it brings but we also pause and grieve the vast loss of life we have witnessed this year. 



What do you think it was like to be Mary in this moment? Happy for her brother but grieving for Jesus?

What is something you can do today to celebrate life?