Friday, January 20, 2023
By Ellie Boudreau, Small Group Leader
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.” – John 12:1-8
There can be surreal moments when the tattered pages of timeless stories throughout this Book come alive again, and it’s as though you’re literally standing there, watching the scene unfold before your eyes. That’s where our text takes us today.
With time closing in, there was a palatable heaviness in the air. It was six days before Passover, and Jesus was invited to the home of his faithful companions as the honored guest. Away from the crowds, the evening hush was illuminated by well-traveled lanterns; the centerpiece on a table carefully set for five. Known for her gift of service, Martha served dinner with the confidence of a seasoned homemaker. Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, comfortably basked in the opportunity to just be in the presence of Jesus.
Then a moment took place that no one could have imagined, making time stand still. Unannounced, Mary bent down and lavishly poured a pint (some translations say, “a pound”) of fine perfume on Jesus’ feet. The aroma was known to permeate skin and hair, lasting for a long time. Draping her hair over his feet, she brushed the expensive fragrance on him, engulfing the room. A simple, but powerful act of worship took place. This was the perfume intended to be used for Jesus’ burial, but Mary didn’t care about what others may have thought at the moment. Instead, perhaps the aroma would linger for days on his skin as a precious reminder while he was living, that his imminent death would be worth it all.
Known as a selfish thief, Judas Iscariot piously scolded Mary saying that she could have sold the perfume for a year’s wage and given the money to the poor. Jesus quickly rebuked his criticism, seeing through his intent to line his own pockets. True to his past, Judas missed the entire picture.
Jesus deeply desires that our walk with him would be an intentional commitment of our heart. Mary sacrificed her best for Jesus. It was valuable and worth every drop applied to his feet. What is my best to lay at his feet? What could I tangibly re-prioritize in my life that would help me take a step toward a deeper commitment in my walk with God?
“God, thank you for your unwavering commitment to me. Teach me to welcome you in all aspects of my life. Amen.”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.