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Devotional: March 29, 2021

1-3 Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.

4-6 Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.

7-8 Jesus said, “Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.”

John 12: 1-8 The Message

Mary’s devotion to her Lord shines through in this memorable incident. She comes into the home of Lazarus and his sisters, and anoints Jesus’ feet with a very expensive jar of perfume, or oils. After anointing, she wipes his feet with her own hair. This was a pure act of servitude and love. When she completed the task, the aroma of the oils filled the house. One might even say that the aroma of love permeated the home…

Judas is the spoilsport in this story. He attempts to come off as someone who is more financially responsible. Unfortunately, he ends us looking spiritually irresponsible. He suggests a “better use” for the money spent on the oils: give the funds to the poor. He even has a number in mind: 300 denarii. Is it not interesting that Judas was willing to sacrifice Jesus just a few days later for just thirty pieces of silver?

Jesus sees deeper into Mary’s actions. He glimpses her heart of love for Him, and her adoration. He defends Mary’s act of devotion. Jesus upholds her true motive as one worthy of imitation by all who follow Him. Finally, our Lord reminds both of them of the unpleasant reality that the poor will always be present, but He will not. Jesus is not discrediting the need to help the poor. Rather He is focusing on the reality of His upcoming crucifixion, now just days away.

This striking story holds many lessons for us. One is that it is alright to enjoy and use important things with others. It’s kind of like putting out the nice china for a guest in your home. The more important lesson I believe is the act of truly appreciating what you have at that moment, and not squandering the opportunity. When occasions come your way to love someone else, by ministering to them, or just by sitting quietly and enjoying time together, take them. Do not let those fleeting times pass by you without seizing the opportunity.

Although Mary herself did not know how limited Jesus’ time was, Christ did. He offered Himself at that moment. In essence, he offered to let Mary almost begin the burial ritual that would normally be used on the dead. Christ knew the importance of Mary’s actions to not only to her, but as a testimony to all who were present. Jesus honored Mary, for her actions of honoring Him.

When it comes down to it, many of us probably have a memory of something we wish we had done, an opportunity to go somewhere, or a conversation we wish we had embraced. A greater message in this passage though is to take that risk of faith and venture forth with the word of the Lord. Trust that you are not alone when you begin those conversations. Ask the Lord to give you the words. Being emotionally restrictive will not entice people to want to learn more about our amazing Lord. Having a humble spirit, and filled with the knowledge of the word, we can be the first step for someone else to begin their own faith walk.

This story encourages loving today, so we will have fewer regrets tomorrow: a good lesson for Monday of Holy Week.

Prayer

Jesus, thank You for having patience with me, especially when I am slow to see the opportunities you lay before me. Forgive me when my actions and words do match up with Your will for my life. Show me the direction I must take in order to share Your abundant love with all people. Help me when I am a miser with the gifts You have given me. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

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