John 12:3 The fragrance of the oils filled the house. (The Message Bible)
Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, has just dumped some expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. Smells are amazing things. A scent can elicit a feeling or thought that can connect you with a moment from your past in a way that is even stronger than an image. The smell of a special meal cooking can do that or flowers in the air or home. I think the writer of this passage knew how impactful smells can be and perhaps was even calling upon the memory of this fragrance or a similar one that might connect the reader with a powerful occasion. We sometimes hear people ask, “What does God look like?” Perhaps another question raised here is “What does Jesus smell like?” In the context of the whole story from verses 1-8 the answer might be that he smells of love. What does love smell like to you? For Mary and Jesus in this moment it smelled like this special perfume that reflected Jesus’ upcoming death on the cross and his burial. When was the last time the fragrance of Jesus enveloped you?