We have seen and heard many stories of devotion, but we talked about one in particular this last Sunday at The Rescue Church.
In the book of John chapter 12, it speaks of an amazing story of devotion by a woman named Mary to Jesus. Jesus says that this perfume that Mary gives him “was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” (verse 7) This perfume was intensely pure and very, very strong. Imagine taking a full bottle of perfume and pouring it over your head into your hair – if you’re a man, into your beard – down through your skin, and you allowed that to sit and to steep into your flesh. It was a culture unlike ours where you didn’t bathe every day but you bathed less frequently, a few days later as you were breathing, what do you smell? The scent of that fragrance, because it lingered about you.
My guess is that Mary finds herself, for the last time, at the feet of Jesus. This time as he is hanging above her, nailed to a cross and crucified, she finds herself beneath his feet. And this issue of the feet is very interesting because in the Roman crucifixion the feet were used for mockery and for pain and for suffering. In a Roman crucifixion they would nail your hands to a crossbeam. They would nail your feet to the cross. The reason they would nail your feet is because, in your crucifixion, the way you would die is usually by suffocation. Your lungs would collapse as you hung, and wouldn't be able to fill up with air, and so very slowly you would asphyxiate. You would suffocate to death. You would cease breathing in a very slow, tedious, and painful way.
And Mary (my guess) is there watching among other followers. The act of crucifixion was not new for them, but who they were crucifying was. The one who called himself God, performed miracles, and forgave sin.
As Jesus is hanging there and he is pushing himself up through the stakes driven through his feet, the place where Mary had anointed him, as Jesus breathes, what do you suppose that he breathed in his nostrils? Quite possibly he smelled the gift of Mary. As Jesus hangs on the cross, likely in his hair and in his beard and in his skin the lingering gift of Mary is his encouragement. I believe Jesus knew fully what was going on in this moment as he hung on the cross, but I would suspect that as he breathes this sign of devotion gave him comfort, and maybe even peace. He is dying because he has loved Mary, and she has loved him back.
We hear so many stories of devotion to God-what's yours?