Scripture Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:4b-14, John 12:1-8
Todayís Gospel lesson takes place the night before Jesus entered
triumphantly into Jerusalem, which we will celebrate on Sunday.
Jesusí ministry was at its peak; He had a large following.
The crowds gathered to listen to Him speak about the kingdom of God.
The people constantly sought Him to heal their illnesses and cast out
their demons. There was talk among
the disciples about making Jesus king of an earthly kingdom.
They saw Him as the Messiah, the king of the Jews.
But their image of the Messiah was one who would take the world by force.
It would be easy for Him to do. Though
His followers were not a mighty army, they were willing to do anything for Him.
By the time He rode into Jerusalem, the people were in such a frenzy that
it would have taken just one word from Jesus for them to rise to fight.
were many that did not love Jesus. The
chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the high court.
The work Jesus was accomplishing Ė the miracles and the harsh
statements against the leaders Ė frightened them.
They were also concerned about the possibility of the people rising up
against the Romans. The leadership
knew that if the people fought, they would loose their positions of authority in
the Roman Empire. The Romans would
blame them for the uprising and remove them, placing Romans in those positions
to keep control of Jerusalem. The
religious freedoms that were enjoyed by the Jews would be suspended and they
would have to worship according to Roman values. Most of all, they did not want to loose their power, prestige
had been an incredible time in the ministry of Jesus.
While He was healing and teaching, He learned His dear friend Lazarus was
sick. He did not travel to Bethany
immediately; rather He waited two days before making the journey. By the time Jesus arrived at the tomb, Lazarus had been dead
for four days. There is great
significance in this number. In the
days of Jesus, many believed that the soul stayed near the body for three days,
so there was hope for the person to be revived.
For the family and friends of Lazarus, there was no longer any hope.
His soul was gone and nothing could be done.
Jesus purposely waited to raise Lazarus.
Raising people from the dead was not new for Jesus; He had done so
before. But this was His beloved
friend, and Jesus grieved at this death. He
told Mary, Martha and the other mourners that in this act they would see Godís
glory. By raising Lazarus on the
fourth day, Jesus showed that God is not limited by our beliefs.
Godís power extends beyond our thoughts and understanding.
in todayís Gospel lesson, everyone had much to celebrate.
Lazarus was alive, Jesus was at the peak of His ministry and the
disciples thought the culmination of their hard work lie just moments away in
Jerusalem. They had reason to
celebrate. Lazarus threw a party in
Jesusí honour. Not everyone was
rejoicing, however. Jesus knew what
lie ahead and He knew His disciples did not truly understand His purpose. There was one who seemed to know, and that was Mary.
loved Jesus. She had so much to be
grateful for. Jesus had treated her
with respect in an age when women were not respected.
Jesus had wept with her over the death of her brother. And Jesus had brought Lazarus back to life when there was no
hope. Mary was thankful, and she
showed Him her love in the only way she knew how Ė by giving herself
completely to Him. She not only
gave Him the expensive perfume, but she gave Him her heart and soul.
She was humbled before Him, making herself to be like a servant.
Only a servant would touch someoneís feet.
A woman in Maryís position would have kept her hair clean and neat and
bound on her head. But she let her
hair down and risked destroying its beauty by wiping Jesusí feet with it. She anointed His feet with oil, a simple act and yet one with
great significance. Mary was
anointing a king, her king. She was
anointing Him with a perfume that was purchased to be used for His burial.
Did she know He would die in less than a week?
We canít be sure, but we do know that she did not wait to use it.
She submitted herself to her King before He was gone, in thankfulness and
Mary had a deep desire to honour Jesus. It didnít matter to her how she looked to the others.
It didnít matter to her that she appeared as a servant.
It didnít matter to her that her hair was unkempt and dirty from the
ointment. It didnít matter to her that Judas thought she had wasted
so much money over a frivolous act. All
that mattered to her was that Jesus knew that she loved Him.
writes to the Philippians, ďWhat is more, I consider everything a loss
compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose
sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and
be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God
and is by faith.Ē This is how
Mary felt and she wanted Jesus to know that day that she had faith in Him.
She bought the perfume to anoint Him for His burial, but she refused to
wait. She wanted Him to know.
Everything else was unimportant. What
is important to you this day? Do
you have an image you are trying to maintain?
Is there someone that you should forgive or ask forgiveness but you are
holding back because you are concerned about your image?
Is there someone you love but are holding back because you are afraid you
will be rejected? Is there
something you should do today, but are holding back for some reason?
Most importantly, how is your relationship with Jesus Christ?
Are you willing to anoint Him as your king, despite your image or
desires? Mary recognized the great
gifts of God through Christ Jesus and she seized the moment to give Him the honor
that He deserved.
Next week, we will celebrate Jesusí victorious ride into Jerusalem, share with Him His final meal, cry in Gethsemane as He submits Himself completely to the will of God and finally face that final moment of pain and horror as He dies on the cross for our sins. Do you recognize this, the greatest gift of God? We look to the cross to see what Christ did for us. He died so that we can be forgiven and approach His throne of Grace. He was raised so we can have eternal life as an heir to His kingdom. As we live in this life, He continues to give us with His many blessings of love, mercy, peace, grace, hope and joy. Do you recognize the gifts of God through Christ Jesus in your life? How will you honour Him today? You canít anoint His feet, but you can forgive someone, tell a friend how much you love them, confess a sin, share a meal, laugh or cry with someone who needs a friend. Donít wait until it is too lateÖ do it today, and show Christ your love and thankfulness.
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