Monday 11 April 2022

Bible Book:

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36: 5)

John 12:1-11 Monday 11 April 2022

Psalm 36:5-11


As we continue our reflection for Holy Week and give time to consider the way of the Cross, today we are reminded of the meal at which Jesus is anointed with costly perfume. It is one of the stories that appears in all four gospels in a slightly different form.

Today’s reading gives us the version as found in John’s Gospel. John sets the anointing as taking place in the same week as the Passover. The location is Bethany, the home of Lazarus. The woman is identified as Mary, sister of Martha. If we look at the story that is developing, we begin to see the gathering storm into which, as we saw in yesterday’s reflections, Jesus willingly walks. He walks the road, that is his compulsion and destiny, with feet anointed and blessed by one of his special friends.

With the benefit of the eye of faith and the advantage of hindsight, we see the foreshadowing of what is to happen in coming days. We see, in this anointing, a foreshadowing of the loving service of foot washing that Jesus will perform for his disciples. What Jesus will do for his disciples, and asks them to do for each other, Mary has already done for him. Mary’s act demonstrates the love that will be the cornerstone of the discipleship to which Jesus called them and calls us.

For John, discipleship is defined by our response to Jesus in acts of love. Notice that John names a woman as the first to embody this model of discipleship, just as later he will name a woman as the first to greet the risen Lord. John’s account of discipleship does not conform to the church’s stereotypical assumptions. Jesus’ disciples are people like Mary, whom he loves and who love him back and who live out that love in acts of service. And these acts of loving service cause curiosity. People come to see what is happening. In John’s account, the episode is immediately preceded by the raising of Lazarus, which leads to the increase in numbers of believers and, consequently, the increasing perception of threat to good order felt by the authorities. Crowds are stirring, they want to come and see Jesus and they want to see Lazarus. The arrest order has been given. Jesus is turning his face towards the impending tribulation that is his to face and which he embraces willingly as the ultimate act of loving service.


To Ponder:

  • What act of loving service might you offer to your local community, the wider community or another person known to you?
  • What act of loving service do you wish someone might offer to you?
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