This was just before Passover. Jesus and his Disciples were on the way to Jerusalem but they stopped in Bethany for supper at the house of Lazarus. Mary was there and she had saved this for Jesus. Had she heard in his teaching the dire warning of his death? Perhaps. Certainly he had not been hesitant to mention it. Judas criticized her for the extravagant gesture, but Jesus defended her. "It is for my burial," he said.
Mary gave the oil to anoint Jesus' feet because she had sensed the importance of the trip to Jerusalem. He had referred to his death many times in his teaching, but the Disciples refused to hear the message. Mary saw beyond the supper and the joyous occasion. This would be his last visit to Lazarus. This was her last chance to honor him.
All who were present that night were blessed by the fragrance of Mary's sacrifice. This oil was perhaps part of her dowry. The cost was high. If it was supposed to be a gift to her husband, why would she waste it on this wandering preacher? But Mary saw Jesus as far more than a valued friend. His words gave her entrance into God's realm of peace and grace.