Mary reflects the Lord's love and the Lord's fragrant aroma. John 12:1-3; Eph 5:1-2

John 12:1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.


John 12:2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.


John 12:3a Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard,


Notice the difference between Mary and Martha. Martha cooked food for the living Lord; Mary provided oil for the dying Lord.


Neither of them did anything that was wrong; both of them did something that was good. However, Mary did the best thing.


Not that she’s in competition with Martha, but she reveals how two people in the same environment with the same opportunities can become different in their relationship to Jesus Christ.


Mary expresses something that is recorded in the Word of God forever and ever.


What Martha served is not recorded.


Mary understood that this was a dying party and not a living party.


Therefore, she could enjoy the party as the rest of them did but she could appreciate it more than they because this is a dying party, not a living party.


This enjoyment was in her own soul. She cherished it in her heart. She didn’t need someone else to understand or to share it with.


Principle: can you have maximum enjoyment even though no one may know or understand your enjoyment. You do not need a crowd or group to know your thoughts or plans.


Do you need a crowd or a group to be with you to have maximum enjoyment? It’s great to enjoy things as a group with the unity of the mind of Christ, but do you need a group?


Lazarus is now alive and they are celebrating, but little did they realise that this was Jesus Christ’s ‘going away’ party.


The juice from the root of this plant was very, very fragrant and it was sealed in an alabaster box and imported from India. At this time in the Roman Empire there was great trade between India and the Empire.


Without the freedom of trade that was established by the Romans Mary would have never been able to get it. This shows us that God uses nations that obey the laws of divine establishment.


John 12:3a Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard,


John 12:3b and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.


Three times we find Mary at the feet of Jesus: Luke 10:39, she learns at His feet; John 11:32, she failed at His feet; John 12:3, she succeeds at His feet.


Mary understands better than anyone else that Jesus Christ is going to die in six days, on the one day that is the shadow of the cross—the Passover. She applies the doctrine from her soul.


John only describes part of the anointing. Mark tells us she broke the jar. This means that she broke the seal on the jar.


The broken seal represents the fact that she understood that Christ must be judged for us and therefore the work of Christ on the cross.


Matthew tells us she anointed the head of Jesus. Why? Because Matthew is the Gospel of the King, and the King wears a crown.


In Matthew Jesus is recognised as the son of David, therefore the anointing of the head. The King must die for His kingdom to exist forever.


John tells us she anointed His feet. This is the teaching ministry of our Lord oriented to the plan of God and the grace of God which is the central part of John.


So Matthew emphasises the King, therefore the head is anointed – Matthew 26:3; Mark emphasises the servant, therefore Mary breaks the alabaster box which contains the oil to indicate the servant is broken on the cross – Mark 14:3; John emphasises the teaching of the Lord, therefore mentions Mary anointing the feet. “How beautiful are the feet that communicate doctrine”—Isaiah 52:7.


The word of God is seamless and when it is studied over years by a humble student of the word it begins to come together like a beautiful tapestry.


What once seemed like unconnected lines of thread begin to form a beautiful tapestry representing the glory of God to your very own soul.


“and wiped his feet with her hair” – e)kmassw, [ekmasso] which means to wipe dry.


This is important because the hair is the glory of the woman if she chooses her right man. It is a sign of her response. A woman has long hair as a responder.


1Co 11 states that the woman’s hair is a sign of her authority.


1 Cor 11:10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels [because of the Angelic Conflict].


Now the symbol of authority is her hair, but that is not her husband’s authority, it is her own.


What authority does she have? She has the authority to respond to the invitation of a man in marriage. If she says yes she is choosing to give her authority to him. Therefore, in Christian marriage the woman gives over her own authority to the man.


She can no longer be taken by force, as in the days of Noah, and even though that does happen in some evil societies; it is not permitted under God’s common laws of divine establishment.


So the woman has authority to respond to her right man. In Mary’s case she is responding to the Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, by using her hair do dry His feet she is giving all authority over her life to Him.


And in the beautiful typology, the fragrance of the Lord has now passed onto her hair and she will smell of the sweet odor just like the Lord.


The principle is that if we give over our authority to the Lord, the things that He did that were pleasing to the Father will be the same for us. The fragrance that pleased the Lord will also emanate from us.


1Co 11:15 but if a woman has long hair [generally past the ears], it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.


The response of the woman to the right man and most of all to the right man, the Lord, is a glory to the woman.


Her response to right man in marriage is one glory. Her response to the Lord becomes a reflection of His glory as per 2Co 3:18.


Mary has become a beautiful woman. It is the doctrine in her soul that makes her beautiful. Mary has responded to our Lord’s teaching. She learned at His feet. She learned in humility.


Physically, her hair represents this beauty of soul as the glory of the woman. She takes what makes her beautiful and uses it to dry the Lord’s feet. The excess oil is removed and what oil has absorbed into His skin continues to provide the wonderful fragrance.


But also, oil has absorbed into her hair which provides her with the beautiful fragrance.


So then, she reflects the Lord’s attitude of grace orientation. His willingness to go to the cross is the fragrant aroma and because she understands His grace orientation she reflects His love.


This is symbolized by the oil rubbing off the Lord and onto her hair. Her hair is her glory. It is her volitional decision to supine at the feet of the Lord, to save this money, to buy this fragrance, to anoint Him with it before all whom they love so that they will remember this. All of this represents her love for the Lord and her humility to follow Him.


Because of that, she now smells like Him. Her fragrance is pleasing to the Father as well. And that will be true for all believers who have her attitude.


John 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."


John 15:13

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.


Virtue love produces a lifestyle, much like Mary’s, that is pleasing to the Lord.




Eph 5:7-10

Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.


Heb 13:20-21

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.


So the Lord is blessed directly and Mary is blessed because she reflects the Lord’s mental attitude and both of them bless those around them through association.


The fragrance that fills the house is blessing by association for all; those that she and the Lord love.


This is a part of your secondary assets. When you reflect the Lord’s glory, those close to you and those whom you love are blessed by association.


There is nothing better that you can do for your family other than to grow up spiritually so that you reflect the fragrance of our Lord’s death, which is entirely encapsulated in grace orientation.


She is a responder to the teaching of the doctrine, and this expresses her capacity for love—maximum capacity through Bible doctrine. Martha expressed her love through cooking; Mary expressed her love in this manner.


“and the house” – the house of Simon the leper – “was filled” – filled with something of the highest quality.


“with the odour” – a very sweet odour, a very rare odour because it is a very expensive fragrance.


As the house is filled with the fragrance it is a picture of the fact that God the Father is satisfied with the death of Christ on the cross.


All the offerings of fire in the OT, which represent the judgment of the Lord upon Christ, are always described as a fragrant or soothing aroma to the Lord.


Lev 1:9

And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.



Isa 53:10-12

But the Lord was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.



Eph 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.



So the fragrance filling the house anticipates propitiation.


Undoubtedly part of the house at least had been filled with the odour of cooking and now it was filled with the odour of the fragrance of our Lord’s death.


This is also the fragrance of memories. Out of this Martha will have a beautiful fragrance of memory. So the odour of physical food has vanished; it is replaced by the odour of the oil of nard, a fragrance of grace.


Principle: Food helped to make the party a success but without doctrine there would be no party. Beware that the normal details of life, such as cooking, do not hinder the intake of Bible doctrine.


Martha’s cooking made a pleasant dinner party but Mary’s ointment reminded of the capacity for life through doctrine leading to the capacity for death through doctrine.


Only Bible doctrine can actually give capacity for life so that one can have capacity for dying.


As a person lives, so he dies.


If he lives with great capacity for life and occupation with Christ he dies with great capacity for life and occupation with Christ. No matter how he dies the capacity is there.


Now enter the party pooper. Judas Iscariot thinks he is making sense but he has no clue what is going on. He’s not concerned about the poor, or anyone for that matter, he is concerned about himself alone.


John 12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said,


John 12:5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?"


This reminds me of modern day liberal politicians who love the redistribution of wealth, but never their own.


Notice what attacks the spiritual life: Getting involved—liberalism, socialism, panaceas. Judas is under the social gospel: “Help the poor.”


There is great differences between Mary who glorifies the Lord and Judas who completely rejects the Lord.


Mary was a believer; Judas was an unbeliever.


Mary was a mature believer with an ECS; Judas Iscariot was an unbeliever with reversionism and emotional revolt.


Mary was conservative; Judas was a liberal.


Mary gave to Christ her love first; Judas betrayed Christ because of his lust for money.


Mary emphasised the Lord through doctrine; Judas emphasises the poor through his hypocrisy.


Mary carried a box; Judas carried the bag.



Mary broke the box as a point of doctrine; Judas emptied the bag as a part of his lust.


The effect of this criticism is not recorded in John, but in Matthew 26:8 and Mark 14:4 we see that the disciples became critical of Mary, following the lead of Judas.


Matt 26:6-9

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it upon His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? 9 "For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor."


Mark 14:3-5

And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4 But some were indignantly remarking to one another, "Why has this perfume been wasted? 5 "For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they were scolding her.


The disciples all became indignant and even scolded her saying that she wasted it.


Amazing. If you were in this crowd would you have agreed with them? Would you have chimed in along with them? These are the 11 – the disciples of Christ, the writers of scripture and those who are depicted in paintings with halos and pious looks on their faces.


They are so wrong it’s comical.


Beware of the herd-bound instinct! The disciples did not have any facts; they were influenced by the emotional revolt of Judas. As Judas spoke they reveal their own jealousy and vented it.  


Judas doesn’t care for the poor at all. The disciples were the victims of the herd instinct. Basically, they didn’t have enough doctrine to resist this thing.


Be careful who does your thinking for you!



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