As Easter approaches I find my thoughts turning again towards the passages I love so much in John Chapters 12-20. I want to take some time to share some ideas with you from these chapters.
“Six days before the Passover ceremonies began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead.A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus sat at the table with him.” John 12:1,2
In this passage, I am struck by the obedience of Christ to his Father’s plans. You may remember that prior to these verses Jesus had been forced to leave Bethany because he had caused such a stir by the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
Christ knew the time of his death was upon him. So he marched willingly into the lion’s den. Now I know he was “Very God of Very God” but he was also “very man of very man”. I can only imagine the waves of fear which must have been washing onto the shore of his life as he sat down to supper with Lazarus in the home of Simon, the ex-leper.
I can’t imagine it was any picnic for Lazarus, either. He was also marked for death because he was the poster boy for Jesus’ miracle ministry. Maybe that’s why Martha had opted to serve dinner at Simon’s home. I can just picture Lazarus’ protective older sister pouring out drinks around the room gazing suspiciously into each eye. Did she see danger in every drinker that night?
As I read this passage I am filled with a tension… a sense of the danger they were all putting themselves in. How did Simon feel? He invited two marked men into his home for supper. Surely he had to know it wouldn’t stay a secret. Nothing Jesus did stayed a secret for long in those days. The whole city was on the look out for “the King of the Jews”. What trouble was Simon bringing on his own head just by having the two enemies of the Pharisees over for coffee?
I can almost feel the stress of the disciples as they recline at the table. Thomas had followed Jesus loyally but with not a little concern for his own well-being. Peter may have acted “devil-may-care” but something deep inside of him was ready to bolt.
Into the midst of all this intrigue and tension little sister Mary walked
“Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar [fn] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with fragrance.” John 12:3 NLT
Anointing… what a strange ritual. Why do people do it? To signify importance. To signify the presence of God, the approval of God. To cover the stench of death.
Here’s another question who else in the Bible was anointed? Aaron the High priest, every high priest since him, King Saul, King David, every king since them, oh yeah and every dead person who could afford embalming spices. It’s interesting to me that Mary had not broken the jar of nard over Lazarus body when he had died earlier.
All those thoughts aside, there she was the impetuous little sister breaking the family retirement over the feet of Jesus. What an interesting picture. What a way to begin the passion week.
What would you have felt if you were there that night?