Last time we met we learned about the plan to kill Jesus. Today we learn from John 12:1-8.
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.”
Do you remember that Jesus had retired to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim. His fellow Jews wondered if he was going to show up for the Passover. Today we learn that six days before the Passover Jesus traveled to Bethany. He spent time there with his friends, gathered there with his disciples.
We learn that Martha served the meal, Lazarus sat with them, and Mary…oh Mary. Mary took a pound of expensive ointment (a oil) of pure nard. Nard comes from the Spikenard plant and is an expensive oil normally used for anointing people on the head. Usually only a bit is used at a time due to the expense and the nature of it’s use.
Mary took a full bottle and poured it over his feet and wiped it with her hair. The whole house smelled of the perfume.
Judas, who was all about the money, challenged her decision to do so, saying this perfume could have been sold for 300 denari and used to help the poor. Now we’re told his challenge was not based in his concern for the poor, but for his own pocketbook. “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. “
Jesus denied his challenge though, saying, “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.”
Jesus acknowledged specialness of what Mary had done. She anointed his feet. She spent time just for him. The poor would always be there, but for right now, the focus was on Jesus. Afterall, he would not always be with them. His time with them was not permanent.
I read Judas’ reaction and I have two thoughts in my head. One… YEAH.. huge waste of money and TWO.. JUDAS!!! Don’t be a jerk!
The latter tends to be my stronger reaction especially once I read Jesus’ response, but for me, the first is still there too. And then she puts it on his feet! I wonder why Mary chose to wipe his feet? Putting pretty smelling oil on someone’s feet (especially in a day and age when people walked everywhere) seems like a waste of resources. It makes me wonder why Mary chose to do his feet?
This, of course, made me think of the song “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news” and I wondered if that was part of it. This song comes from Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!“ We can’t know Mary’s thinking, but I can’t help but wonder. Jesus had saved Lazarus, he always talked about the good news of God, and Mary knew he spoke truth, she believed in him. So expensive oil on his feet… totally makes sense don’t you think?
And Jesus acknowledged what she did. Her anointing of his feet was accepted. And if Jesus accepted her action, so should we. That’s enough reason for me to reject thinking like Judas and to just see the good of it.