In today's passage from John 12, Jesus has a meal at a friend's house with Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and His disciples. Mary worships Jesus by breaking an expensive jar of perfumed oil and washing His feet with her hair, but Judas disapproves of this act, as would others.
1. This scene feels like reality TV. John 12:1-2
If you watch reality TV, you are probably aware that very careful casting takes place beforehand, as the creators of such a show are looking for outlandish behavior and drama. You may view this Bible scene in the same way. Jesus is not hanging out with the most noble and respectable people he can find. On the contrary, those seated around him represent a hodgepodge of weakness, doubt, and very unlikely heroes.
Jesus uses the rest of us and not just the best of us.
He could have chosen His "dream team," but instead, He took glory in using the overlooked of His day.
Jesus didn't have to choose these people to be his friends and disciples. He could have chosen His "dream team," but instead, He took glory in using the overlooked of His day. This sends a message to us that we don't have to have it all together in order to come to Jesus. If you feel like you would be the least likely person Jesus would choose, you are probably the very person he wants because you are not filled with pride and thinking you can do it all on your own.
2. Mary freaks out. John 12:3
You may realize that Mary used expensive oil for an act of worship to Jesus, but do you realize how immodest and inappropriate her actions are? In this time and culture, if a woman so much as unfastened her hair, such behavior was considered as explicit as prostitution. Some Jewish rabbis of the day had written that if a wife's hair were unfastened, the husband would be morally obligated to divorce her because it was so scandalous.
Not only does she unfasten her hair and use it to wash Jesus' feet, she recklessly uses the most valuable thing she can find to do so. This nard was so expensive because it could only be obtained by traveling to the mountains of India. Nard came in different qualities, like diamonds, and this was pure nard stored in alabaster jar. It was likely a family heirloom passed through generations, and we are told it was worth an entire year's wages (v. 12:5).
Why is she so reckless? For one thing, this is the first time they are all gathered together after Jesus has raised her beloved brother Lazarus from the dead. Not only does she love Lazarus, but he is her sole source of livelihood – without him, she would be destitute. Not only that, but Mary realizes the significance of who Jesus is. She performs this anointing of the feet, an act reserved for kings, and she doesn't care who is watching.
When the crowd was hanging out with Jesus, Mary was worshipping Him.
Just because you are hanging out with Jesus doesn't mean you are worshipping him. Are you treating Him like an irrelevant has-been? Or do you realize you are in the presence of a God who made a star 250 million miles in diameter yet loved you so much that He humbled Himself to the form of a man and endured torture and death on a cross for you? Jesus deserves more than your lip service. He deserves your worship.
3. Judas comes unmasked. John 12:4-5
Judas speaks up in objection to Mary's behavior. As we know, later this same man will betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He is not content with his situation. We know from the mention of stealing in verse 6 that Judas has the seeds of selfishness and greed in his heart. Greed and covetousness turn to theft, which escalates to the horrific act of betrayal against the God that came to die for him.
The seed of our greatest failure is planted securely in our unmonitored weakness.
We all have our Achilles heel. When we experience a little duress in our lives, we run back to the seed that is rooted in our hearts. We can't allow that seed to flourish and become an act of betrayal to our Lord.
There are two types of people in this story: one who would do anything for Jesus and one who would do anything for himself. Judas elevates himself to a position of importance, but Mary is the one who actually recognizes Jesus as the Savior who deserves worship.
So here's a question to ask yourself: Are you in love with Jesus enough that you would be willing to utterly pour out, give up, trade in, and part with whatever it is that is absolutely most precious to you? The answer to this question determines whether you're worshiping Jesus as a God or as the God.
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