Verses 1-11: Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint 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, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
Jesus was close to this family, good friends. In John 11:5, it says he loved them.
A feast was being given to honor Jesus, sometime after he raised Lazarus from the dead. They may already have known that Lazarus was in danger from the leaders, too, but Lazarus was willing to dine with Jesus to honor him.
Martha served Jesus, the best way she knew to honor him.
Mary anointed him with the costly perfume which she would have used to bury him. She wanted him to enjoy this honor while he was still alive.
When Judas objected to this, Jesus told him to leave Mary alone. When this story is mentioned in Mark 14, VERSE 9, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
What a lovely picture of Jesus, that even though his crucifixion was coming soon, he took the time and thought to honor his friend.