John 12, 1-8
Something to read
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
King James Version
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.'
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
A number of characters with previous involvements with Jesus are here drawn together at this meeting in Bethany. The evangelist John had just informed the reader of Lazarus' death and how Jesus, upon hearing the news, had raised him from the dead. Mary had prostrated herself at Jesus' feet in tears and brought news of Lazarus' sickness.
Martha was Mary's sister who Jesus had promised that if she believed would see the glory of God. Now the whole family is back together, enjoying a meal in honour of Jesus. But all is not well. Mary pours on Jesus' feet an expensive perfume, filling the house with an overwhelming fragrance. Judas is not happy, and John is quick to point out a different motive at work in his heart.
Jesus steps in to defend the action: "leave her alone". It is hard not to feel sympathy for Lazarus. How easily would we slip into a similar frame of mind? How easily today do we make the same mistake? Are there areas in our lives where we seek to show restraint towards Jesus' honour rather than to act with willing abandon for His glory?
Something to do
Examining our own motives can be a painful and rather laborious exercise. Yet it has the potential to be transformational as we seek to live in accordance with Jesus' instruction. How can you fill your own setting, be it home, workplace, or a school, with the fragrance that will speak to God's glory?
By willingly setting aside our deep held convictions, we can discover new ways of serving God. Try and do one thing today that will remind others of the honour and glory of Jesus.
Something to pray
Dear Lord Jesus,
You alone deserve the glory and the honour. We are sorry for the times when we try to hide and shield Your grace. Please free us from a habit of suppressing Your work. Thank You for the many ways we are reminded through our family and friends of Your majesty.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Today's contributor is Russell Winfield, a minister training at Westminster College, Cambridge.