Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus. (John 12:1-11)
RECLAIMED FROM SELF
Notice that this isn’t any ordinary dinner. It says they, “gave a dinner for him.” This is a celebration dinner to honor Jesus and thank him for resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. Mary’s act is not spontaneous. This is something she clearly had been planning to do in order to worship, honor, and love Jesus.
Each of the ladies has a role. Martha’s is to thank Jesus by organizing the celebration meal, and Mary’s is to thank Jesus by pouring perfume on him. This 11 ounce flask would be worth about $35,000 in today’s money.
There are two different responses to Jesus. Mary’s heart was full of wonder, joy, and thankfulness that overflowed into a lavish act. Judas’s heart was filled with greed and selfishness.
Jesus replies to Judas’ greed in three parts:
You do not always have me.
Mary feels the preciousness of Jesus’s presence and what it means for her, Martha, and Lazarus.
You always have the poor.
Jesus is pointing out Judas’s hypocrisy. He didn’t want the money to give to the poor, but rather to keep for himself.
So that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
Our acts of worship go far beyond the present. I she were infected with Judas’s selfishness would she be able to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection?
Our acts of worship align us with our Savior’s heart and that reclaims our inner self. It saves us from the sin of selfishness; that sense of I can never have enough; there’s always more I want. It saves us from that to one of contentment and joy in the beauty of Jesus.
3 questions for you:
What aspects of Jesus’ life do you admire?
How have you acted selfishly this week?
What do you think God might want you to do in response to what he is saying?