Tuesday, May 1, 2012

John 12:3-11

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3)

Mary adored Jesus! She loved being at His feet, not only to listen attentively to His every word, but just to unashamedly worship Him. Here she brought out her extremely costly jar of perfume, probably her precious dowry, and lavished it on Jesus’ feet. Such perfume was used in burial, and, in fact Jesus affirms that this jar was intended for his burial (vs. 7). But she was using it early in preparation.

It seems that Mary was one of the few who understood. During all of that sitting at Jesus’ feet she had learned what the disciples had not yet caught: Jesus was going to Jerusalem to die. Jon Courson reminds us that Mary of Bethany would NOT be one of the Marys at the cross. He conjectures that she must have known that the cross was not the end of the story. So she used up the perfume before Jesus died. What an act of worship! That worship was costly, not only because of the price of the perfume, but because it also brought her criticism:

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (vs.4-6)

When we worship unashamedly, we can also expect some criticism. Courson remind us that this was also true of David. When he danced in joy before the LORD, wearing only his undergarments (2 Sam 6), his wife, Michal, who was Saul’s daughter, mocked him, disgusted by his display. She remained barren until the end of her life, whereas David continued to worship his God. In the same way, Judas, motivated by money, rather than worship, came to a pathetic end. Courson writes, “Those who critique or find fault with worship will experience barrenness, dryness, and a lack of productivity.” (Application Commentary: New Testament. P. 538) Those who think you are some crazy fanatic because you love Jesus miss out on the joy of the LORD!

Judas acted disgusted about the “waste” of money when there were so many poor who could have benefitted from the sale of the perfume. But Jesus rebuked him, knowing Judas had no real concern for the poor:

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (vs.7-8)

Mary understood this. She seized the moment to show her love for Jesus. Having “wasted” the perfume, she may have even cost herself a future husband! She was trusting that God, Who had provided the money to buy the perfume, would also provide everything else that she needed. This is what tithing is: an act of worship that trusts that God will provide everything for us financially, even as He provides the means for us to worship Him with our giving. We can never outgive God! As Mary worshiped Jesus with the perfume, the fragrance not only blessed Jesus, but herself and all who were present as the sweet smell permeated the house. Do you hold onto your money to protect it or does it freely flow through your hands in worship as you bless others in Jesus’ name?

Remember that Bethany was only two miles from Jerusalem. And as Jesus and his friends enjoyed the fellowship and the joy of Lazarus’ resurrection, people who had heard Lazarus’ story began to gather outside:

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. (vs.9-11)

Now the religious leaders had a growing problem. They not only plotted to kill Jesus, but they would have to also murder Lazarus in order to end the whole movement! Where would it stop? Tomorrow we’ll see the crowds welcoming their Messiah as Jesus enters Jerusalem.  

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