Monday

“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 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?’” (vv. 3-5)

John 12:1-11 Monday 10 April 2017

Psalm: Psalm 36


Background

This is the second day of Holy Week, the last week of the seasonof Lent. During this week we have stories from the last days ofJesus' ministry, as churches all over the world prepare tocommemorate his execution on the day the Church calls Good Friday.Lent is a time for us to look at ourselves and be truthful aboutthe ways in which we fall short, undertake what changes we can, andmake good where we have harmed someone.

In today's passage there is political intrigue, gender politics,and simple disagreement: not for the first time, Martha served thehousehold while Mary spent her attention on Jesus (Luke10:38-42): that day Mary had bought expensive perfume. Judasargued that the cost could have been used to help the poor, andthis was reasonable enough an argument that the narrator needed totell readers that Judas had an ulterior motive: he had beenstealing from the common purse (verse 6). Meanwhile, outsidersschemed to put Lazarus the brother of the two women to death,because his life had become evidence of Jesus' power.

Without the narrator's explanation, Judas' argument soundedreasonable. How could the community justify a short-term luxurywhen there were people with great and real need? How can anyone whosays they follow Jesus justify the use of money for what seem likenon-essentials when people are still hungry?

Jesus' point was that celebration and honouring of the presentmoment was also a compelling need; what Mary did also prefiguredhis death. Jesus did not change or soften the obligation to helpthe poor. Rather he noted that there was also a value in honouringfriends in any given moment, as that moment would not comeagain.


To Ponder

  • What would you say to Judas in response to his criticism ofMary?
  • Assuming you did not know Judas was corrupt, would you agree ordisagree with him, and why?
  • What good do you think it did for Jesus to call Lazarus out ofthe tomb when he had been dead three days, if he would only dieagain in the future?
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