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The Smell of Her Hair

Smells are powerful. A smell can instantly take us back in time. I remember the first time I bought Dawn Dish Soap as an adult. It instantly took me back to my childhood. I was standing in the kitchen in Alaska. I could see the sink (I believe Harvest Gold in color) I could see the kitchen window. I could see the kitchen cabinets. I could see our little kitchen table. And I could smell the dish soap.


On a side note, I called my mom and asked her if, by some strange chance, she remembered what dish soap she used 50 years ago…the answer was no. I know it wasn’t Dawn because according to my on-line search Dawn didn’t debut until 1972 or ’73.


Bread in the oven takes me back to my grandma’s house. Burning brush piles remind me of my childhood and my grandpa. Pine-Sol takes me back to Friday afternoons and cleaning house with my mom.


Smells can trigger powerful memories, especially emotional memories. Our brains are wired in such a unique way that smells, memories, and emotions are very much intertwined. I am sure we were created that way by a loving God.


I think most people are familiar with the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus.


It was six days before the Passover and Jesus had traveled to Bethany and was staying with Lazarus. A dinner was given in his honor. We know that Martha was doing all the work serving the meal. John 12 tells us that Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at the table. Here comes Mary. She brings a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard or spikenard. The value, according to the footnote in the NKJV, was about one year’s wages for a worker.


“Spikenard, also called nard, nardin, and muskroot, is a class of aromatic amber-colored essential oil derived from Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family which grows in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India. The oil has been used over centuries as a perfume, a traditional medicine, or in religious ceremonies across a wide territory from India to Europe.” (Source: Wikipedia)


Mary knelt in front of Jesus and anointed his feet with this wonderful smelling oil. She then reached up and let her hair down and wiped his feet with her hair. Try to picture this scene in your mind.


As the wonderful aroma filled the house, memories were made. Mary was showing her friend, how much she loved and cared for him.


Jesus said in Matthew 26:13 “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” NKJV


He was right! We still talk about it to this day; over 2,000 years later! There is much more to this story, but did you realize Jesus was anointed twice before He faced the cross?! That was the first time. Let’s look at the second time.


This time it is just 2 days before the Passover: just days before the cross. Jesus is now at the house of Simon the leper. Jesus was sitting at the table when a woman came with an alabaster flask of very costly oil and broke the flask and poured it on His head.

Once again, some in the room are indignant. They called it a waste of money and they criticized this woman.


Jesus said “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Mark 14:8-9 NKJV


Two dinners. Two houses. Two women. Two ever-lasting stories of anointing. One woman anointing His feet. One woman anointing His head.


I heard a preacher once mention that Jesus must have smelled the essential oil in His hair as He hung on the cross. That the smell would be a reminder of how much He was loved.


Ephesians 5:2 tells us that Christ was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” ESV


I have thought about Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and wiping it with her hair. She had to have smelled that wonderful aroma for days. Perhaps she even smelled it as she watched her friend and Savior die on the cross. She would have been reminded for days of that scene: Jesus at the table. She at His feet.


Smells are powerful. And this smell was their act of worship.


Did you know we are a fragrance to God?


“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved…” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NKJV


May we all have that sweet fragrance of Christ.

May we all accept the gift of His sacrifice.

May our prayer always be pleasing to our Heavenly Father.


“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” Psalm 141:2 ESV

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