The house was filled with the odor of the ointment. John 12:3
The Bible says we carry a treasure in our ‘earthen vessel’. In that phrase Paul is obviously talking about the preciousness of Christ. This treasure is the Holy Presence of Jesus within us. Often, this sweetness is never sensed by anyone around us. That’s not how it was in this story, the fragrance of Christ in Mary’s life was filling the room. The story of the broken flask and the poured out oil picture the brokenness of heart and the release of the fragrant aroma of Christ from our lives. What kind of things bring us to a place where we begin to pour out, or spill the preciousness of Christ from within our lives? Mary obviously had gone through some deep places in her life allowing this sweetness to be poured out. Some think that Mary of Bethany was also Mary Magdalene. If so, she had experienced the hardness of life on the streets and the power of forgiveness found only in Christ. Recently she had dealt with the death of her brother Lazarus, the funeral, and his unexpected raising from the dead. These experiences brought her to a place where Christ was pouring from her life. The whole atmosphere of the room was permeated with the fragrance of her love being poured out on Christ. Here is how Watchman Nee describes this story.
“By the breaking of that flask for the Lord’s sake, the home in Bethany was pervaded with the sweetest fragrance. Something was set free for all to appreciate, and none could be unaware of it. What is the significance of this? Have you ever met someone who has suffered deeply and whose experiences have compelled him to find satisfaction in the Lord alone? Then immediately you have become aware of something. Immediately your spiritual senses detect a fragrance—what Paul terms “a sweet savor of Christ.” Something has been broken in that life in order to release what is there within of God Himself, and you cannot mistake it. Yes, the odor that filled the house that day in Bethany still fills the church today. Mary’s fragrance never passes.”
What kind of fragrance do people pick up around you? What determines that is how you respond in the darkest moments of your life. If you cling to Christ in your hopeless situations you will experience the brokenness that leads to life. You, like Mary will pour out this preciousness, this fragrance, in response to God’s faithfulness and love He has poured out on you.