Monday, April 15 John 12:1-11 Shane Mullin
1 Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. 3 Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, 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. 4 Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, 5“This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.) 7 Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.” 9 Many Jews learned that he was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 The chief priests decided that they would kill Lazarus too. 11 It was because of Lazarus that many of the Jews had deserted them and come to believe in Jesus.
In this scene from Jesus’ life, there is talk about caring for the poor, something Jesus modeled for us. And, we are also invited to think about Jesus in ways that move beyond words – we are invited to think about Jesus through smell. Most of us have experienced smells in our lives that are powerful – powerful enough to bring up memories of people, places, or events. Perhaps a smell conjures a good memory, or maybe it reminds you of something sad, or maybe it simply reminds you of something on your to-do list. Regardless, smell is powerful, and Mary’s gift to Jesus gives off an aroma that fill the entire house – she has recognized that Jesus is going die and uses perfume that was meant to be used for his burial. She loves Jesus, and her motivations are contrasted with the motivations of Judas, who really isn’t concerned about the poor. Mary’s anointing of Jesus shows us the best way for evaluating our actions as Jesus’ followers – do we do things only out of obligation and what is expected, or do we do them because we love Jesus? We must each answer this question for ourselves, and we must also answer this question as a community. Perhaps even God’s grace has a smell. If so, may we be people who are grateful for Jesus and his presence among us – when we do, we’ll want to care for the poor, not out of obligation, but because we treasure Jesus.
Pray for and remember today our neighbors who live in poverty.