Reading Time: 8 Minutes
Jesus’ last week before the cross and resurrection.
John 12.1-3 – Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 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.
Almost one-half of John’s Gospel is devoted to Jesus’ final week on earth. It begins with Mary’s outpouring of love toward Jesus. The scene is a dinner given in love and honor of Jesus, who had just raised Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus was obviously present at this meal with his friends, but he is also very present in our lives at through the activity of the Holy Spirit. On this day in history (Good Friday), please be conscious of his presence and invite him to join you for your meals. After you have prayed for your food, talk about Jesus to whomever is eating with you. If you are alone, talk to Jesus.
Coach Jake Taylor and Chrissy will be leading an observance of the Lord’s Supper tonight at 8:00. You can find this on the Maywood Baptist Church Facebook page. The Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ invitation to eat with him. Today, we can be consciously present with Jesus in our meals and in his special meal for us.
A closer look at Mary’s worship
The ointment that Mary poured out on Jesus’ feet was an extravagant gift of love. For a woman, who was not a family member, to be so familiar with a man was highly unacceptable in the first century.
Luke 7.36-50 presents another case where a woman anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. Simon, who had invited Jesus to his home for dinner, was incensed. He called the woman a sinner and implied that Jesus was wrong to accept such an act.
Jesus gave Simon a lesson on forgiveness and love, ending his message with these words, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (Luke 7.47).
Both women poured out the best they had. The fragrance of their worship filled the whole room where they served Jesus, and the story of their love has filled the entire world for centuries.
As we invite Jesus to spend meal time with us today, and as we accept Jesus’ invitation to his Supper tonight, let’s find it in our hearts to give him the best worship we are able to give on this special day.
What about the poor?
John 12.4-8 – But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (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.)
7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Judas’ question about the poor, raises the question of how do we address the issue of the poor? The best way to serve the poor is to fall in love with Jesus and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit when we come in contact with someone in need.
That being said, there are a couple of ways NOT to serve the poor.
(1) To feel great sympathy for the poor in general, but to do nothing for the poor we meet on a daily basis is self-deceptive. We fool ourselves, if we think we are serving the poor by just thinking sympathetic thoughts about the masses of poor people and doing nothing for the person before us.
(2) To use Jesus’ word, “You will always have the poor with you,” and to do nothing to serve the poor is another self-deception. Before we take this approach we need to prayerfully read Matthew 25.31-46 and James 2.14-17.
The poorest man in Bethany
An author that I am reading for this study in John wrote, “Jesus is the poorest man in Bethany and Mary is serving him.” What an interesting thought. Is it true?
Think about it. Jesus didn’t have a bank account. He didn’t have a place to “lay his head” (Matthew 8.20). He depended on the support of others to be able fund his ministry (Luke 8.3). In seven short days from the time of Mary’s anointing, he would be stripped of the one article of clothing he owned, beaten, and crucified between two thieves.
As we include Jesus in our lives today, let’s worship him, remembering Paul’s words: “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8.9).
Religious men, whose job was to serve God, plotted to put a man raised from the dead back in his tomb.
John 12.9-11 – 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.
10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
As we attempt to understand the perverted thinking of the religious leaders, an examination of the root of all temptation and sin will be helpful. Satan tempted Jesus with three universal temptations that are experienced by all of us. The three temptations are:
(1) We are tempted to take the gifts of God has given us and use them only for ourselves (Matthew 4.3).
(2) We are tempted to insist on having our own way, but asking God to rescue us when our own best thinking gets us in trouble (Matthew 4.5-6).
(3) We are tempted to seek the power and esteem of the world’s system, and to not give God the worship and honor he is due (Matthew 4.8-9).
The religious authorities failed all three of these temptations. They used the gift of ministry to increase their own personal wealth. They accumulated houses, clothes, and possessions at the expense of the poor in Judea. The plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus was a blatant attempt for these men to have their own way and to maintain their own power. Not only were they tempted by Satan, they became his instruments.
The good news is that some people chose to follow Jesus by putting their trust in him. Praise God! They turned their back on Satan’s universal temptations and began walking according to Jesus’ directions.
Others, tragically, opposed Jesus to the point of seeking his death. They went “all in” with self-centered, self-reliant, glory-seeking pride, and opposed the only One who can give life.
Please invite Jesus to be a conscious part of your day. Take time to worship him. Bring him your best. Turn away from the three universal temptations from Satan. Receive Jesus’ very best for you, as you share in the Lord’s Supper at 8:00 with Coach Jake and Chrissy.
Dear Jesus, we worship you today with the multitude of people who love you and are grateful for you. We bring you our best. We also receive into our being your grace and love for us. Praise your name!