This story is adapted from John 12:1-11.
I hope it helps you to feel.
Every window in the city sparkled with candlelight under the night sky, like stars reflecting off a calm sea. The homes were filled with family, friends, and travelers from every direction, all in Jerusalem in time for Passover – just six days away. But no home was as filled with wonder, laughter, holy reunion, or hope like Peter’s home, where Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus were staying.
In this home, where Jesus sat eating dinner, no one knew where to look. They could only laugh to examine a happy Lazarus, who had recently spent four whole days dead inside a tomb before Jesus raised him back to life. After drinking in the deep mystery that was alive before them, they instinctively turned to gaze at the Resurrector himself. He wore the biggest smile of them all.
Martha served them all dinner that night with a glad heart. Her joy to have her brother back was most easily expressed by the fruit of her hands - a warm meal and the best wine she had. But Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, couldn’t take her eyes off Jesus. She stood frozen for a long time and looked at him as someone looking at newfound treasure; nothing else in the world was more valuable.
She stood, disappeared for a moment into one of the rooms of the house, and returned with a large and beautiful jar. All eyes turned toward her as they heard the smashing of the precious thing. She took its contents, a fragrant ointment, into her hands and gently wiped it though Jesus’ hair and on his feet. Without any attention to herself, she unbound her hair and used it to sponge the excess off his heels, along with the sweat and the dirt that still clung there.
Everyone sat, quiet and still.
A King had just been honored and a royal fragrance filled the tiny throne room.
The first voice to break the silence belonged to Judas.
“What a waste,” he said, as he sat up from his seat and ran his fingers over the broken jar. “If you were so eager to let go of that ointment we could have just sold it and made at least 300 denarii. You know Jesus would rather us use that money for the poor.”
Mary’s eyes slowly drifted up from the ground to Jesus as she received the rebuke.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus said.
He looked at Mary directly. And with words that gave her a deep sadness, but were delivered with almost a smile, Jesus said, “Let her keep the rest of the ointment; she’ll need it for my burial. You’ll always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Maybe it hurt more because of how lovely that night had been, but at those words, every soul in the room felt as if the wind had just been knocked out of them. Every soul but one, who was too irritated about the wasted ointment to notice what Jesus had just said.
It was in that silence that voices could be heard from outside – lots of them. Peter hustled to the door to see what the growing sound could mean when three steady thumps sounded from the door, rattling the latch just as he was trying to unfasten it. He opened the door to a mass of people, each layer deep fading to silence as they noticed Peter preparing to speak.
“Who are you?” Peter asked.
“We heard that Jesus was staying here. And many of us don’t believe it, but we heard that Lazarus was here too.”
“They are both inside,” Peter said with a smile.
He looked behind him and motioned for them to come outside. First Jesus stepped out, and then Lazarus. There wasn’t cheering, but there wasn’t silence either. There was wonder.