Devotional by Abigail O’Neel

Read Matthew 26:6-16

Matthew 26:6-16

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Judas to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.


Mary’s gesture was costly. Matthew leaves little room to doubt this as he describes the jar as an “alabaster flask of very expensive ointment.” (v.7). John tells us that the perfume was not only expensive but worth a year’s wages (John 12:5, NIV). Were her actions wasteful? In the moment, I might have thought so. Like the disciples, I am prudent, resourceful, and logical. 

But “Is anything wasted which is all for Jesus? It might rather seem as if all would be wasted which was not given to Him!”1 Mary’s gesture wasn’t wasteful; it was one of extravagant, costly devotion, and it held profound significance.

The perfume poured upon the crown of Christ’s head was symbolic. Throughout Scripture, anointing oil “symbolized the water of life and God’s spirit combined together” and was “used to mark a person or a place as a bridge between Heaven and Earth.2

After waking from a divine dream in the wilderness that depicted a ladder to heaven, Jacob exclaimed, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” He then took the stone that rested under his head as he slept and anointed it with oil (Genesis 28:10-19). Heaven met Jacob on Earth.

After the completion of the Tabernacle, the people of God anointed the tent with oil, acknowledging the Tabernacle as the bridge between the people of God (on Earth) and God himself (in Heaven). 

Priests and kings who mediated the relationship between the Israelites (Earth) and God (Heaven) were anointed with oil to mark them as set apart, divinely ordained leaders before God. 

Now, Mary anoints Jesus using a perfume worth a year’s wages. In doing so, she acknowledges him as the one in whom Heaven meets Earth, worships him because he is holy and set apart, and honors him as the mediator who would soon bridge the gap between herself and the righteous and holy God completely and forever.

Mary’s decision was costly, but it certainly was not wasteful because she knew who reclined at the table. This man was the Christ—a title derived from the Greek word χριστός (chrīstós), meaning ‘anointed one.’ He was also the Messiah—a designation taken from the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (mashiach), meaning ‘anointed.’ Mary was simply anointing the Anointed One.

Consider the costliness of Mary’s decision to anoint Jesus with perfume worth a year’s wages. How does her extravagant devotion challenge you to reevaluate your priorities and commitments in following Jesus wholeheartedly?

  1. Charles Spurgeon, “Something Done for Jesus” (sermon preached at Metropolitan Tabernacle, January 26, 1890). ↩︎
  2. The Bible Project, “The Meaning and Purpose of Anointing in the Bible,” March 18, 2024, YouTube Video, ↩︎

18 thoughts on “Day Four | Holy Week 2024

  1. When it comes to priorities or decisions we decide to make, sometimes we don’t think about God at all and we think “well how would this benefit me?”. However, when Mary spent a year’s wages on perfume, this was her following Jesus even if it seemed crazy to others. So, when it comes to commitments or priorities that we have as Christians, following Jesus means that it will be the right decision or right priority even if we don’t see it right away or if it’s unexpected.

  2. Following Jesus means POURING our lives out to Him!! There is nothing too Valuable or too Precious for Him. Lord ALL that I am and have is Yours🙏🏾❤️

  3. This is one of my favorite stories because if it’s example to lay it all before the Lord. Another detail about this that I love is that the only way for the vessel to be emptied was it had to be broken. This also means that Mary could pour out some and save the rest for later. It was completely emptied!

    In the same way, my desire in my walk with the Lord is to completely empty myself, being broken before the Him, acknowledging His worthiness!

  4. God, please grant us the wisdom to do what is right at all times. Having our eyes on You alone, not thinking of self and obeying at all times.
    What is most important is You! Forgive us for all our wrongs. Amen 🙏

    YOU are worthy of it All!!

  5. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23: 5-6

  6. All my heart, all my soul, all my love, and all that I am—I offer it all to your service. Giving is an act of worship, just like Mary gave it all without holding anything back. Perfume worth a year’s wages may seem extravagant, but God’s grace upon us is immeasurable. Halleluyah

  7. It is not “over and above giving” if we have learned that everything belongs to Him in the first place.
    Our giving only show how much our love for Jesus has grown and how much our trust in Him has overshadowed our love for this world.
    He is worthy of it ALL.

  8. This story is so beautiful to me because I feel like it really puts into perspective the fact that nothing is ever wasted that is completely for Jesus and to Jesus

    Jesus was so pleased with Mary’s offering. He said it was a “beautiful thing”. I think it’s so special because in a time that a lot of people were saying “this is a waste” or “why would you do this” and Jesus response was no this is beautiful.

    It’s a reminder to me that there are some things that are costly but they’re so worth giving to the King of Glory. They’re so worth doing for Jesus. Because He’s worthy of it. The precious lamb of God. Our love for Jesus can be seen in the sacrifice we give to Him or make for Him out of devotion to Him.

  9. All I have is yours Lord Jesus. Let your will be done in my life today🙏🏾❤️

  10. Anointing JESUS with the best perfume that was very costly, was more honorable, more charitable, more praise worthy, & caring than giving money to the poor; though that’s honorable too. Mary gave her heart, all she had for the ONE that gave HIS all to her & all that would believe in HIM. When you think about it; what is life without the LIFE-GIVER? (dead man walking).
    All praise KING JESUS,

  11. Thank you Father for sending Jesus, Christ, Messiah, the anointed one, to bridge the gap of my sin that separates me from your righteousness, to forgive me, allow me to repent and reconcile me to yourself.

  12. How wonderful to be able to give something to Jesus….never ever being able to repay Him for His countless gifts to me. I can give Him my life!

  13. It teaches me the importance of honest work, because the important things in life are regarding of what you want simply aligns with honesty. As David Shivers taught me on 1-28-2022 is honest work is what I need to understand. Just like from A Christmas Tree Miracle is from David George Perspective is honest clean living, is what helps a kingdom heart from the last message arc of Pastor Jarrett Stephens.

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