Let Your Hair Down Have you ever had a burden that seems to fill the air around you? Everywhere you go, you are constantly aware of this thing. Often these burdens emit a stench that’s nearly impossible to escape. But recently I read a passage that opened my eyes—and my nose—to a different perspective.
As Jesus prepares for His death in John 12, we find Him with His friends and disciples in Bethany at a celebration of what He has done—performing the miracle of all miracles by raising Lazarus from the dead. Everyone (save Judas) is full of faith. Martha serves the meal because that’s what she desires most to do. Lazarus reclines at the table with Jesus because once you’ve died and come back to life, what else are you supposed to do?
And Mary in her own beautiful way is at the feet of Jesus, holding the most expensive perfume in the house. She takes the perfume and pours it onto Jesus’ feet. And in a gesture not unlike David’s undignified worship (see 2 Samuel 6), she takes down her hair, maybe even unbraiding it, and uses it to wipe the ointment onto Jesus’ feet.
Let’s pause. Now, I don’t know about you, but keeping my hair down requires a lot of effort. My work is my family, and family work is messy. Even if I’d like to keep my hair down, the messy business of my work generally forces me to keep my hair up and tucked away. Most days, it’s the first thing I do in the morning as a symbol of order, decorum, and preparation to get to work.
But for Mary, letting her hair down, soaking it in perfume, and scrubbing Jesus’ feet was not dirty work.
Full of faith, Mary was compelled to participate in the hour that was coming for Jesus. She understood His burden and she took on a burden of her own. With a powerful sacrifice she helped Jesus usher in the hour He knew He must face. And as she completed this work, “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).
Yes, perfume on Jesus’ feet. But it is somewhere else, too.
I can’t forget that Mary’s hair was still filled with the fragrance of Jesus’ burial oils as Judas argues against her sacrifice. I can’t forget that Mary’s hair is soaked and aromatic as the party winds down. And as she went to bed that night, the smell of the perfume transported her back to earlier in the day, reminding her of the gift that she shared.
It’s in her hair.
It’s easy to get grossed out, but I think most moms know what I mean when I say, “It’s in her hair.” Some days, it means cleaning mud, lice, gum, and blood. But many days, it means our fears, our concerns, our prayers. Whatever “it” is, these burdens are always with us. And their fragrance hangs in the air around us and fills the house.
Moms, we are “Mary” to so many. There are burdens all around us. Each one tempting us to resist being transformed into new life. Let’s be willing to get it into our hair. Let’s be willing to carry the fragrance of difficulty and pain. Let’s be willing to let it, with Christ, bring us into new life.