(For a full account of the events of this day, see Matthew 26:6–16, Mark 14:3–11, Luke 22:3–6.)
The past several days have been a rush of tension and anger for Jesus’s opponents—and of unflinching resolve for Jesus. Words have been his currency, and he’s spent piles of them. But on the Wednesday before his death, Jesus is still.
He is in the home of Simon the Leper, a man known by what’s wrong with him. During their meal together, Mary of Bethany—Lazarus’s sister (John 12:3)—comes to Jesus with an alabaster flask of perfume. She’s been saving this perfume, worth a year’s wages, for this exact occasion (John 12:7). She begins pouring it on Jesus’s head and feet, which requires breaking open its container (Mark 14:3). Like popping the cork on a $20,000 bottle of champagne, this was a deliberate act. She is offering Jesus everything she has. By giving her most valuable possession to him, she is expressing her knowledge that what he’s about to give of himself is for her.
What Mary does is beautiful, and Jesus wants everyone to know it. She is preparing him for burial. There is honor and kindness in her gesture. Jesus returns the honor by saying history will never forget her act of beauty. And we haven’t.