Love Story

March 20, 2015
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John 12:3 – Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (NASB)

As a young adult who was fond of long hair, I noticed that, with few exceptions, many female movie stars had shortened hair styles. I recall the 1970 movie, Love story: Actress Ali MacGraw revived the trend of long hair in the film industry. The image of "Love story" finally arrived in my life when I met my future wife, who had long, dark hair that extended to her waist.

As I read today's passage in John, I recognized a different kind of love story, that of Mary of Bethany. I immediately became intrigued not only by her hair but also by her actions. In researching Jewish customs during the first century, I discovered that many women of status had their hair braided and covered, as opposed to peasant women who roamed the streets. Accordingly, the apostle Paul validates long hair by saying:

1 Corinthians 11:14-15 – Does not even nature itself teach you that … if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her for a covering. (NASB)

However, Mary does something very unusual as a virtuous woman. She did not think it a disgrace to undo her hair and anoint the feet of Jesus with a very costly perfume. In humility, she then wiped away the nard with her hair. She figuratively laid down her glory at the feet of Jesus as an act of reverence, devotion, service, and even worship — something that no one else thought of doing. When Jesus said, "She has kept this for the day of My burial" (John 12:7 NKJV), He indicated that Mary had a clearer recognition and understanding of the Lord's approaching death than the disciples. It wasn't until after Jesus was glorified that they actually understood.

Mary gave of herself. As Christians, we should also offer the very best of ourselves in order to obtain spiritual fulfillment. Even though Jesus is not physically present, consider the many ways in which we may worship and serve Him. Do people see us as a blessing to others through our actions and self-sacrificing love?

Mark 14:9 – [Jesus said,] "Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her." (NASB)

Christ recognized Mary's self-sacrificing act as a sign of adoration and love for Him. As a result, He honoured her, not only for future generations to remember, but also as an example for us to follow.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we worship You, and give You honour and glory. We pray that Mary's example will inspire us to give our hearts in faith, love, and service. Keep us ever so humble in Your sight. May we never forget the sacrifice which Your Son bore for us by Your grace. In His name, we pray. Amen.

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Lou Ciccanti <>
Ocean View, Delaware, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.

    A wonderful challenge Lou. God bless.

    Well done Lou!

    Lou, Being a” blessing to others through our actions and self-sacrificing love” is a
    very important admonition. Thanks for the reminder.

    Lou. Good job with this devotional. Not only is Mary showing honor to Jesus, but she is also displaying her humility. This is one of the biggest problems in today’s world, people not being humble. I believe that this leads to love.

    Dear Mr. Ciccanti,
    Thank you for today’s PresbyCan “Love Story.”
    I enjoy my shoulder-length hair though it is white by the sides of my face and naturally streaked with shades of blond and blond-gray elsewhere. I’m glad that currently more older women too are allowing their hair to grow longer, unbound.
    I imagine that Martha’s hair was quite long and already down where it was handy for her to use to wipe excess of the expensive, “about a pint of pure nard,” that she had poured on Jesus’ feet.
    How wonderful that Jesus said to the dishonest Judas, “Leave her alone, 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.” There are very special holy occasions that call for the utmost.
    I thank God that you brought this story again to me today. I pray that, in the church of Jesus Christ, there will not be evil thrown at God’s gift of the beauty of women, but that it will be taken to be, as in the verse you quote, “her glory” (1 Corinthians 11:14,15 NASB). “Does not even nature itself teach you that … if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering?”
    Take these as random thoughts.
    I pray that God will keep you writing for as long as he empowers you to do so. Amen.

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