“Those who love Christ and honor Him must expect to be critically misjudged by those who are only nominal Christians. That should not discourage them from pouring out their lives in love for the one who died for them” — Commentary: Family Worship Bible Guide.
#RadicalWords – John 12:1-8 (ESV)
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
This event, which takes place less than six days before His Crucifixion, is a dinner planned in honor of Jesus. It occurs in the village of Bethany (just outside Jerusalem) in the home of Simon the Leper (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3) and is attended by Lazarus, his sisters Martha & Mary, and a group Jesus’ disciples including Judas Iscariot. Three of these characters play pivotal roles in the story – Jesus, Mary, and Judas.
Jesus: Just six days before He will be carrying His cross to Calvary, crucified, and put to death, Jesus is found “reclining at table” with Lazarus (John 12:2; Mark 14:3) clearly in a state of peace and open to receive the gift and blessing that Mary was about to bestow upon him. Jesus knew that His day was drawing near. Perhaps that is why he chose to “recline” in this comfortable place (Bethany) with his close inner circle (Lazarus and his family, Simon, and close disciples) – His flesh may have trembled, but His spirit was of the Father and prepared for the eternal VICTORY soon to come.
Mary: During the supper, as Jesus, Lazarus, and others were “reclining at table,” Mary gave to Jesus the remarkable anointing gift. Her gift was remarkably humble – She was focused on Jesus exclusively. She anointed His feet solely out of recognition of His glory and not for the rectification of her own sins. Her gift was remarkably extravagant – Mary used not only very valuable oil but a lot of it (a pound) to anoint the feet of Jesus. In addition, she considered this very costly oil only good enough for His (Jesus) feet. Some scholars believe that Mary had insight that many of the disciples did not – that Jesus was going to die (John 12:7) and she was compelled to give this gift of devotion to Him. This knowledge was available to Mary because she was often (three times) at the feet of Jesus.
Judas: In a matter of days following this supper, Judas Iscariot will commit the greatest betrayal of all time. But the darkness of his heart is revealed now in his objection to Mary’s rich atoning gift. Judas didn’t just object to the gift, he was indignant over the expense of the oil used to cleanse Jesus feet (John 12:4-5). It is true, as John 12:6 points out, Judas did not object to Mary’s gift out of his heart for the poor, but rather out of his desire as a thief to steal from the money bag which was now 300 denarii lighter. However, Judas was indignant over the gift because he was convicted by the powerful display of love that Mary had shown to Jesus.
In short, God gives us this passage to remind or teach us of the following 3 things:
(1) Mary is a study of devotion to Christ. She understood something that the others did not, and she was prepared to pour out her earthly treasure in love for Him.
(2) Judas teaches us that we can be betrayed by people with a deceptive religious facade that hides secret sin – and these people may be in our inner circle. We should also be on guard with our own heart so that darkness akin to that of Judas does not penetrate and make us the one with the deceptive religious facade and hidden secret sin.
(3) If Jesus, the King of Kings, when staggering under the weight of His burden, finds peace in rest with His inner circle, and the ability to adopt a posture of receiving, then so should we.
#RadicalMen – My question to you as we enter Holy Week is this: Are you prepared to learn from the example of Mary, a #RadicalWoman, and honor Christ with a costly devotion regardless of the critical judgement you may receive from others, including Christians, OR are you more like Judas, leaving yourself vulnerable to darkness which grows secret hidden sin, turning you from disciple to the betrayer of your inner circle and ultimately Christ?