“Mary took about half a litre 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…” (John 12:3-4)

In my preaching, I am continuing to explore gospel accounts of Jesus entering homes as a guest. This Sunday, we will explore a home he had perhaps stayed in several times before: the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. This was certainly a family well-known to Him and to His disciples. It was also a special occasion as this was a celebratory meal in His honour following the raising of Lazarus. What has caught my attention though in this episode is the way in which the presence of Jesus exposes the nature and values and attitudes and priorities of those who are there. The contrast between Mary and Judas is particularly stark. Their interactions with Jesus are polar opposites of one another. Mary puts Jesus first, serving and honouring Him, whereas Judas puts Self first. Mary gives her best to Him – the phenomenally expensive nard – while Judas’ words expose him as one who would keep the best for himself. Ultimately, Mary’s act fills the home with the lingering scent of love while the attitude of Judas carries the lasting stench of sin. It is as though the core values of each, while encountering Jesus in this home, have been exposed and magnified. A point for reflection occurs to me that each of us might profitably dwell on: “if Jesus was present in my home, which of my values and attitudes and priorities would come into sharp focus?” May our heart and home be marked by putting Jesus first, by giving Him our best, and by the fragrance of love in everything we do.