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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Encountering God’s Love

John 12:1-8

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 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.4 But 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.” 6 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. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

As Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem where he knew what was in store for him, He and the disciples stopped by Bethany to see Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  In Jerusalem He would encounter vicious acts of hatred.  In Bethany, he encountered an act of selfless love.

Nard is a perfumed ointment made from a plant that grows in the Himalayas in Northern India.  At the time of Jesus, a pint of nard cost a year’s wages or 300 dinari which is the equivalent to approximately $50,000 today.  Mary took the nard and poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair.  

It could be that Mary was wealthy and this extravagance was nothing to her, or it could be that she spent her life savings on this nard so that she could anoint Jesus with it.  In either case, Judas objected to her act as one of waste and callousness toward the poor. 

Was Mary anointing Jesus ahead of his death or was she anointing him as the Messiah she knew Him to be (after all, he did raise her brother from the dead).  Or both?

In her act of love, 

  1. We see selfless sacrifice (the nard was probably Mary’s most precious possession); 

  2. We see humility, as Mary kneeled at Jesus’s feet and anointed them; 

  3. And we see an act of  love that triumphed over custom, culture and the law (it was unseemly for a woman to loosen her hair and use it in such a way in public).

Before He encountered the hate of the world, Christ encountered Godly love.

May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

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