There's a party going on. THE OCCASION: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (see John 12). I'm not sure if you know the proper etiquette behind the throwing of a party for a person who raises someone from the dead. If not, let me tell you: it's accepted worldwide that anyone who raises someone else from the dead should be honored with a party. Just remember that.
Jesus had just brought Lazarus back to life. Mary, as an act of worship, brings in an alabastar jar of perfume (nard), breaks the jar and pours the perfume on Jesus' head. The book of Mark tells us that this perfume that she poured out on Jesus was worth a year's wage. The whole party stops as the fragrance of the perfume swept over the room. And then the disciples start murmuring their anger at this (actually, if you read John 12 you see that Judas Iscariot starts this). They say, "Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to them poor" (Matthew 26:8, ESV). WHY THIS WASTE? Stop and think about how those three words pricked the heart of the Savior who in just days would face the wrath of God and take on the sin of the world in order to bring salvation to mankind.
So as the crowd starts to get upset with her, Jesus steps in and comes to her rescue: "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble the woman?" (Matthew 26:10; Mark 14:6). I don't picture Jesus saying this quietly, so as not to hurt feelings. I picture him getting loud and proud. But then notice these next few words: "For she has done a beautiful thing to me." Did you catch that? Her gift of pouring perfume on Jesus was considered beautiful by Jesus. Was it impressive? Did it take great technical ability? Was it only achievable by the few talented enough to pour perfume? No. It was an ordinary act that came across as an extraordinary gesture because it was brought about by a heart of worship.
Do you need to hear that today? How much of your life is spent trying to impress God, only feeling like you're messing up more than achieving anything of lasting value? Hear it today: whatever you do for Jesus as an act of worship of him he considers BEAUTIFUL! When he do it, he looks at you and says, "You have done a beautiful thing to me." Understanding and believing this brings about freedom in your relationship with Christ. It's beautiful. Not pretty good. Not nice. It's beautiful. In order to consider something beautiful, one must be impressed. And Jesus is.
He honors Mary for her gift. How? "Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her" (Matthew 26:13, ESV). Jesus brags about her and has continued to do so across the whole world.