The Drainage Canal (John 12:3-5)

Where I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, there was a drainage canal that was located across the street from my house. I spent hours in the canal, hiking over large cement boulders, hunting frogs and collecting small fish. It was not safe for swimming and years of neglect revealed jagged rebars protruding at bizarre angles from the wall and floor. During the rainy season, it was not unusual to witness a flash flood careening through the canal, sweeping through tons of dirt and debris.


On one rainy afternoon, my mother and I received an unexpected visitor. It was a teenaged boy, soaked by the rain with a bloody tee-shirt. He was frantically knocking on our door. “Please help us! My friend is hurt!”


My mother and I rushed to the canal where we saw another boy writing in pain. His right foot was impaled by one of the rebars and blood was oozing and soaking the cement block upon which he was lying. My mother quickly turned to me and said, “Quick, get a towel so we can stop the bleeding.” Up to that point in my young life, I had never seen a bloody injury and I was terrified. I bolted back to the house and grabbed a bath towel from the nearest bathroom. I handed the towel to my mother who promptly wrapped the foot, stemming the bleeding. Within a few minutes, an ambulance arrived, thanks to another neighbor who witnessed the accident and called. After the injured teen was transported to the hospital, my mother had an opportunity to reflect upon the events.


“Why did you use our good bath towels? You could have used an old towel!”


I was so flustered by the event, I didn’t even realize I had grabbed one of our expensive bath towels to help this injured teenager. All I knew is someone needed help and I grabbed the first towel I saw. In retrospect, I should have used better judgment.


Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

John 12:3-5 (ESV)


Mary desired to honor her Lord, Jesus Christ, with a very expensive ointment. We learn from Judas Iscariot that its worth was the equivalent of nearly a year’s wage for the average worker. She undoubtedly was saving it to use for her own burial but instead chose to honor her Lord by anointing Him with it, in symbolic preparation for His death. Instead of rejecting it or counseling Mary to not be so extravagant, Jesus praises her sacrifice.


Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.”

John 12:7 (ESV)


I carelessly used an expensive towel when a less expensive alternative would have been acceptable. Mary willingly chose to offer her most expensive possession, knowing that anything less would have been unacceptable. What I did in ignorance, Mary did in honor and worship to her Lord and Savior. When we sincerely give our absolute best to God, whether it is by our service, actions or finances, God honors our offerings. When we bless God, He exceedingly abundantly blesses us.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.



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