Day 38: John 12:1-10
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then 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.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He 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.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Meanwhile 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. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well.
John 12:1-10 (NIV)
In this intimate story, we get a glimpse into the hearts of the characters involved. In the midst of the joyous occasion, Mary surprises the guests when she anoints Jesus' feet with a costly, perfumed ointment. It is a selfless act of humility that perhaps no one else in the room would have done. When the rich fragrance fills the room, everyone's attention is drawn to Mary and Jesus. The cost, and the act of submission, cannot go unnoticed.
Mary's heart is exposed. For a moment, time stands still. Then the gospel writer turns the lens away from Mary and allows us to focus on one of the guests. John zooms in on Judas, and we get a peek into his heart. It is a stark contrast.
Judas can't hold his tongue, and he blurts out that "the perfume was expensive" and should have been put to better use. The focus is now on Judas, and he tries to upstage Mary, but the gospel writer adds his own commentary. Judas doesn't care for the poor. He only sees something of value that he covets, and doesn't control. His jealousy is revealed. Jesus rebukes him and the scene closes with a glimpse into the hearts of other onlookers. Some are curious; some have murder on their mind. They want to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus.
A popular TV commercial asks the question, "What's in your wallet?" I must ask myself, "What's in my heart?" Lent is a good time for reflection and self examination. Are my attitudes like the one displayed by Mary, or one of the other guests?
"Search me, oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." -Pslam 139: 23-24