Thoughts for the Day

Monday, 3rd April 2023: Extravagant love

Mary of Bethany Washing John 12 Love Judas Jesus

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 12

Mary annoints Jesus feet

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (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.). Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


We have a number of accounts in the Gospels of Jesus having either his feet or his head anointed with oil. John puts his account after the raising of Lazarus from the grave, in the house of his siblings, Martha and Mary, six days before the Passover. Matthew, Mark and John all have this incident occurring in Bethany, though only John says it is in their house. Luke has a different account early in his Gospel where a sinner washes Jesus' feet in Galilee. Matthew and Mark mention that Jesus has his head anointed, while John says his feet were anointed. All mention that nard (spikenard) or an expensive perfume was used.

Anointing of the feet was not usual, and we are not told that all of the oil was used. When Jesus rebukes Judas he infers that Mary has been saving it to use for his burial. Only he seems to understand this meaning. What we might infer is that in her humility she prefers to approach Jesus' feet rather than his head. Having her hair unbound is unheard of, but perhaps she understands what is to happen to Jesus and is distraught. What we do know is that the nard was costly, perhaps part of her dowry. She is giving all that she has to Jesus, the equivalent of a year's wage for many people. It is extravagant love!

As we read the Holy Week stories perhaps we can think about the love that we give to our Lord. True love never calculates, but thinks "How much more can I give!"


Lord Jesus Christ,
You gave up everything for us,
to live and die as a man.
Your generous love was extravagant.
May we learn from Mary of Bethany
how to love You,
and how to give as freely
and unselfconsciously
as she did.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to look up the other accounts of the above incident:

Or you might like to remind yourself of the extravagant love that Jesus gave to us:

Return to index