John 12:1-8 Mary Anoints Jesus' Feet
What do we already COLLECTIVELY know about this story?
It's different than Mark 14:3-9 (what part of body gets anointed in Mark?) Matt 26:6-13
In Luke, 7:36-50 ‘a woman’ anoints his feet. But what kind of woman?
Surrounding text in John:
Plot to kill Jesus...11:45-54.. (and kill Lazarus, “Since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus” v. 11)
Prophetic words “Is it not better that one should die for the people than the whole nation be destroyed?”
Followed by triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In this setting of Mary & Martha’s family, after Lazarus raised from dead, how would Lazarus feel?
Martha feel? Mary feel? What else do we know about Mary?
|Stained Glass, St. Hedwig Parish Catholic Church, Detroit Michigan. stainedglassphotography.com|
|Martha, Louis S. Glanzman.|
|Trinity Church, Woodbridge... Stainglassphotography.com|
|Tiepolo, Italian pen and ink|
Vermeer, a more familiar painting of the 2 of them
ASK: Why do you think it is hard to find artwork of this scene? (Hint, has something to do with other gospels?)... The ‘sinful woman’ is a dicey, more interesting story...perhaps.
This painting reminds us of the Mary/Martha story in Luke 10:38. Who sat captivated at Jesus’ feet? (scholars not sure these are same two women)
There’s another plotline in the text. What is it?
Judas: In John's gospel we are only a few days away from his betrayal.
And we have this famous statement by Jesus, “You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.” v. 8
ASK: Do you remember what Jim Wallis said about this verse? (From Justice for the Poor curriculum, see above video.)
We often face this tension; between money spent in beautiful acts of worship and money spent on behalf of the poor. But Judas' high and mighty concern is discounted ..we can assume this isn’t the point of John’s story.
So if this text isn’t about ‘waste’, and it isn’t about concern for the poor who we are to ALWAYS be helping,
What IS THIS STORY ABOUT?-
Slide (12) of Rubens anointing of Jesus by Mary.
Anointed for mission and death
The cost: Jesus was ‘anointed’ in baptism for his ‘costly mission’ and now anointed for his costly death with costly perfume.
Stench of death; past and future
The stench: of death has just been lifted from this house when Mary’s brother is raised from the dead by Jesus. Now Mary eliminates the coming odor of death by anointing Jesus for his burial.
Disciples; faithful and not
The truth: These are all disciples around the table. Not just the 12, but Jesus’ closest friends and followers.
This is a Story of one, who is faithful and one who is not.1
One speaks, one does not.
One speaks ultimate truth without words, ...
The other. . ultimate deceit?
And yet, is anyone beyond Jesus’ reach? Judas remains a disciple...until HE chooses to walk away.
Cost of following Jesus
Story of burning $100
Back to the cost: As Brethren we like to talk about ‘counting the cost’, which makes this a difficult story. It is hard for us to imagine the cost of that perfume = a year’s wages.
$50,000? $100,000?. . .
I read a story of someone who was explaining the meaning of extravagant gifts to God to a room full of preachers. He lifted up a $100.00 and said, “Lord, I offer this gift only to you.” He took out a lighter, lit the $100 bill and they all watched it burn up in an ashtray.
It caused quit a stir. He told them, “Don’t you get it, when we offer a gift to God, it ceases to be of use for the rest of us.”2
Was it “Wasted?”. .
. . . And that was only $100. This gift was worth a year of earning $100 bills over and over and in effect watching them burn away as she poured the valuable perfume on Jesus’ feet.
Good Brethren, tell me, aren’t you wondering...‘why wasn’t this money given to the poor?’
. . .
Mary’s EXTRAVAGANT ACT, w/o words conveys her LOVE. . .
Without words she expresses her DEEP LOVE and alludes to the even more costly, extravagant act about to occur.4
Its A powerful story. today we ask this community, inspired by God's own Spirit, what is the meaning for us? What are we meant to take away after reading this story?
We may each take home a message, yet I think the message (I hear) for us as a congregation is our need to feel deep, abiding Love for Christ.
We, YOU, are so very good at understanding what it means to follow Jesus. I see your passion for reaching out in service to others. Each challenge is met with a new way to help.
THIS... Is a bigger challenge for us. To FEEL what Mary felt.
To LOVE so deeply that we STOP counting the cost. . . . .then give all we have to Jesus.
On Sunday, we closed with an old hymn, "My Jesus, I Love Thee" then we heard this verse
3 Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound,h of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume.
We listened in silence.
Then concluded by watching this video (YouTube) of a choir on a plane waiting for maintenance who sang this song of faith!
Give Me Jesus
Or watch it here:
1 Geo. W. Stroup Feasting on the Word, theological (Louisville:WJK,2009)140
2 Wm. G. Carter Feasting on the word, pastoral (Louisville:WJK,2009)140
3 ibid carter 144
4 ibid, stroup.