The Sweet Aroma of Love

John 12:1-11
Linda Alexander

3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure, and expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Our story for today tells of an extravagant gift given to Jesus. It was the type of gift to be experienced, not stored away on a shelf. It was the experience of love. Jesus was at the home of Lazarus, his friend he had called back from the dead17. Jesus was eating a meal with Lazarus and others. Enter Martha carrying a very expensive jar of perfume. Imagine she is carrying this bottle of perfume carefully in her hands, as a child holds a masterpiece they have just made. Or as a mother holds her newborn for the first time; this jar was precious to Martha. It represented a family legacy, an exorbitant amount of money and a social risk. Martha comes into the room where the men are eating and reclining at the meal table and pours the ENTIRE bottle of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. The aroma of the perfume fills the room instantly, lingering around the edges of the room as the men gape at what Martha has just done.

The interesting thing about smell is a smell is almost always associated with a feeling or a memory. I love the smell of new crayons because I remember my early years of schooling with warmth and good memories. I love the smell of cinnamon and cloves because that reminds me of Christmas and the times we had when my sons were small. So, the smell of crayons and cinnamon represent something to me. For Jesus, the aroma of the perfume represented the self-sacrifice of the perfume and the love Martha had for him.

When we give of ourselves or sacrifice something of ours for others, it represents love. The giving away of one’s time, talents, skills or material possessions in the name of love is synonymous to Martha’s perfume sacrifice. It is pleasing to the Lord because it shows we are embracing the way of love.

Thank you Lord that even today we can show our love for you by sacrificing of ourselves for others. We know our sacrifice is a pleasing aroma to you because it represents our love for you.


Linda Alexander
Professor of Education

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

About the author

Kelvin St. John

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