John 12:1-19 (NRSV)
Mary Anoints Jesus
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary 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.
Let’s look at each part:
“Costly perfume” — According to the Archaeological Study Bible, one pint of nard would have cost about a year’s wage for a day-laborer. Cheaper by far is one of the most expensive perfumes in the world today — Joy, by Jean Patou. Henri Alméras designed and brewed the perfume in 1929. He mixed jasmine odor and rose in the perfume. Each 30 ml perfume in the bottle includes the extraction of 10,000 jasmine flowers combined with 28 dozen roses. It sells for only (!) $800 per ounce.
“anointed Jesus’ feet” — This was unusual. Usually the head was anointed.
“wiped them with her hair” — This is almost scandalous. A proper woman would not show her hair in a public setting.
4But 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.)
His objection is so self-serving, and his soon-to-be-accomplished betrayal of Jesus seems even darker when compared to Mary’s extravagant love!
7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Mary is a model for us in devotion to Christ. We see her three times in Scripture.
1) In Luke 10:38-42, her sister Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is shirking her household duties by sitting at Jesus’ feet; Jesus replies that Mary has chosen the better part.
2) In John 11, Mary drops to her knees in her grief at the death of her brother and tells Jesus she wishes he had been there earlier.
3) Here in John 12, Mary understands something the disciples do not — that Jesus is soon going to die. She prepares his body for burial by anointing it with precious oil.
Note that in all three stories, we find Mary at the feet of Jesus.
In the parallel accounts of this event in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, the perfume is poured on Jesus’ head.
“Broken and Spilled Out” sung by Steve Green.
The Plot to Kill Lazarus
Put picture of Lazarus here.
9When 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. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
Many of the “chief priests” were Sadducees, and they did not believe in the resurrection, or miracles. Lazarus was a living example that their theology was wrong!
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
12The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on Earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free,
To take away transgression, and rule in equity.
He comes with succour speedy, to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight
He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope like flowers, spring in His path to birth;
Before Him on the mountains shall peace the herald go;
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.
To Him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end;
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever, His name to us is Love.
–by James Montgomery, 1821
14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15“Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.
17So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”
1) Do you, like Mary, sit at Jesus’ feet, learning to know him? Do you wish you could do that more? Pray for his help; God has said, “Those who seek me, will find me.”
2) “The world has gone after him!” the Pharisees complain. Why do you think the common people responded so enthusiastically to Jesus? Why were the Jewish leaders so negative? And — What draws you to Jesus?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.