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Perfume and Plotting


The perfume Imperial Majesty is the most expensive fragrance in the world: $215,000 for 16.9 ounces. It is valued not only for the scent but also for the bottle made of Baccarat crystal, embedded with a five-carat diamond, and trimmed with an 18-carat gold collar. Only a few bottles were produced, and half the bottles were archived and not sold.

Today’s passage begins with the religious leaders plotting to kill Jesus and ends with a woman anointing Him with extravagant perfume. The suspicion and threats facing Jesus were not new. Following the resurrection of Lazarus, however, the Pharisees and chief priests called a meeting of the Sanhedrin in order to agree on a plan to arrest Jesus (11:57). They feared that Jesus’ rise in popularity could result in unrest among the Jewish people and incite Rome to intervene. The high priest suggested it was better to sacrifice one person than risk the safety of all their people. Indeed, Jesus would be sacrificed in order that all might live (11:49–52; Rom. 5:19).

Meanwhile, Jesus returned to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus before proceeding to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Mary, in a moment of extravagance, poured a valuable bottle of perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them. The home was “filled with the fragrance” (12:3). Mary’s action reflected the enormous gratitude in her heart for what Jesus had done. But others frowned on it, particularly Judas who would soon betray Jesus and was already stealing from their funds (12:4–6).

Jesus accepted this gift of anointing and outpouring of love from Mary. He reminded His friends and followers that their perspective should be shaped by the fact that His time on earth was coming to an end.

apply the word

The religious leaders wanted power, Judas wanted money, but Mary wanted Jesus. Do we measure our success by the world’s standards of career advancement or material possessions? Or are we shaped by an eternal view that desires to please God and offer Him our extravagant worship? Ask God to keep your heart focused on eternity

BY Jamie Janosz

Jamie Janosz serves as a content development manager for Moody Bible Institute. She writes monthly devotionals for Today in the Word and has published non-fiction essays with Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Recently Jamie wrote a book titled When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up (Moody Publishers). Jamie studied theology and writing at Moody Bible Institute, Columbia College, and Illinois State University. She lives on the Atlantic coast of Florida with her husband, Milt, and daughter, Sabrina.

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