90 Days with Jesus, Day 58: John 12:1-11: The Distinct Impression of the Death of Jesus

John 12:1-11

1Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5″Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7″Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” 9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

This is the problem of being associated with Jesus: Your life is in just as much danger as His. And what’s worse now is that since Jesus has defeated death and death can no longer overcome him, the only ones left for the devil to take out his rage on is those who belong to Jesus.

Or I can look at this in another way. If you want to do away with all remnants of Jesus, then do away with all evidence of what he has done. I suppose you can say it this way: “If there is no evidence around of changed lives then the power of Jesus must be effectively zero.”

That’s at least a couple of reasons why they wanted to do away with Lazarus. If Lazarus remained, and there were many witnesses to the miracle Jesus did, then Jesus is still a threat. But if even Lazarus is gone, then there will be nothing left at all linking Jesus to anything: The evidence is gone. People like to do away with evidence to the contrary.

Still Lazarus can be identified as someone who is persecuted simply because of his association with Jesus. There was no other reason to have any hatred against Lazarus. It’s the same way in today’s world too. Christians are persecuted simply because they are Christians, simply because they have an association with Jesus. There is nothing particular offensive about most Christians whose only real desire is to ‘live at peace with everyone’ (1 Timothy 2) and ‘witness their Lord’ (Matthew 28, Acts 1).

I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that those of us who have been even something just short of physically resurrected (Romans 6) are also being plotted against by those who hate Jesus. This is not paranoia, just ask those in the Middle East who claim Christ. We in the US get to be mocked by Kathy Griffen and inundated with barrages of verbal assaults by morons like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and lectured by friendly atheists about how to conduct ourselves around such people.

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Then there’s another group of people. I’ll call them the Judas folks. This is a fairly obvious group of people. They are strikingly religious. They make all the people think that they are part of the inner circle, part of those sheep who hear and obey their master’s voice.

This group of Judas folks are very concerned about a great many very religious and pious sounding endeavors. These folks are not hard to find because they are typically the loudest ones. You can hear these ones a mile away insisting that their plan is more righteous and more pious than someone else’s plan.

In the name of Jesus these people declare that there’s a certain way we should do things: help the poor, save the whales, build a ministry center in the Name of Jesus. Or, we have a better plan for helping the poor so don’t keep the money in your own community, send it to ours and well distribute it for you! Oh, yes, I love those ones!

The problem is, as Jesus clearly points out, these folks are typically (not always, but often) simply in this for themselves and what they can get out of it. They really don’t care about the cause whose horn they are tooting. Their motives appear to be right and just and their voice smacks of reason and clarity when they criticize what others are doing and the way they are doing it.

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Isn’t it funny then that the one person in this story who makes the most sense is a woman who comes into the room, let’s down her hair, takes a jar of perfume worth a year’s wages, and dumps it on the feet of Jesus?

I’m by no means rich, but I think I’m paid well. On the other hand, I work hard for my money and the Lord blesses my family abundantly. Still, since I work for a church, I know that there are many folks upon whom I am dependent for a year’s salary. I wonder how those folks would think if I took a year’s salary and ‘dumped’ it on the feet of someone?

I don’t know what a year’s salary is to most people, but I suppose that between me, my second job, my wife’s job, some benefits, and our housing allowance my wife and I are making close to 45 of 50k a year. I think that’s rather a large amount of money. I wonder what I would do if my wife decided to take that money and ‘dump it on Jesus’? I wonder what my wife would do if I did the same?

“The poor you will always have among you.”

The point is that this woman, Mary, represents a third type of person in the story: She’s the one who, I think, gives very careful thought to what it costs to follow Jesus, to love Jesus, and gives it for just that reason. She knows the cost, she counts it, she gives it. She didn’t ask for permission or approval. She gave to Jesus with only one thought: To bless Jesus. I wish that I had that sort of faith. In her mind, no gift is too big, no cost is too great.

______________________

It was an extravagant gift. It was a gift that I confess I am too weak to fathom and too shallow to think for a minute that I could give. I don’t have the courage to think that I could give away a year’s salary to Jesus. I give myself a pat on the back when I manage to give away a mere 10% of my salary every year. No. I don’t have that sort of faith. But is this episode merely about how much money we give away? I think Jesus makes his point clearly that this episode is not about money at all. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

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Three people. One people who will die for and because of Jesus. Another group who will use Jesus to achieve their own ends. And a third person who will do whatever it takes to bless Jesus.

Surely, there’s more here than what I have touched on in these words and I’m sorry if I have disappointed you. It’s just that every time I get to this story I have to pause and consider again how much I am willing to give to Jesus. I’m hardly talking about money. If the only way I measure my commitment and devotion to Christ is by how much money I give to the church then I am to be pitied more than most. No, I think there is a level of devotion and commitment to Jesus that goes much deeper than mere money. It’s that depth that I am always searching out in my heart. It’s a depth of gratitude and devotion that cannot be fully measured and a depth that I am most of the time unprepared to rise to.

The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. She filled the house with a cemetary smell, the scent, not of a festive wedding or a gorgeous woman or a sun drenched flower, but of a death. I wonder how many acts and sacrifices I make in my life leave people with the distinct impression, the clear picture, the undeniable truth of the death of Christ? I think that is what Mary was going for that day and it is what we should be going for each day, each moment, too.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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  1. Carol Price

    What happened to day 57??????




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