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.” John 12: 1 – 8 (ESV)
Six days before Passover, Jesus goes to Lazarus’s house. A meal is prepared, and He is anointed with a very expensive perfume by Lazarus’s sister Mary. She uses her hair to wipe his feet. We see this as an act of worship on Mary’s part. In this worship she declares the value of Christ to her. The perfume she used could have been sold for a year’s wages, so this was a very costly act of worship. Mary was declaring that there is nothing more valuable to her than Jesus.
The Disciple Judas questions the “wastefulness” of this expensive oil. He had no care for the poor, he was just a greedy thief. He tried to spiritualize his short-sightedness by stating they could have used the funds to give to the poor, but John tells us he didn’t care for the poor. This scene is applicable to us today. How often do we spiritualize what we think should be done, so we can get our own way? Sometimes people will misuse scripture or manipulate situations, so they can stop something that they don’t want to happen, and they do it under the guise of being spiritual. This is short-sighted and is far from spiritual. When this is done people are not seeing the situation with eyes of faith and worship, nor do they appreciate the value of Christ and see that he is worth the investment; instead, they promote what seems logical, sensible and reasonable as an excuse to manipulate a situation for their benefit themselves. This is what Judas was trying to do.
Jesus rebukes Judas. He tells him to leave Mary alone, because what she is doing is a good thing. He says there will always be opportunities to serve the poor and meet their needs, but what Mary is doing at this time supersedes the needs of the poor.
So, what can we learn from this passage?
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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