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Sunday, March 20, 2011

3/21/11 John 12:1-8 Anointing for Death

1 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.”

Thoughts: Jesus went back to Bethany where he had raised Lazarus.  Here Jesus speaks of the priority of God over the priotiry of the poor- two very important things in the life of the Church.  Yes, we are called to care for the needy, but there is also a place in the Church to care for God.  The visible presence of God in Jesus was about to disappear, and it was appropriate that gratitude and honor be shown to Jesus before he died.  Jesus did not say that we should never care for the poor, but that is just not our only priority.  In and outside the Church there are those who think that our reason for the church's existence is to help those in need- loving our neighbor.  But the first commandment is loving God. 

John Calvin Abridged: They judged to hastily who thought Jesus wouldn't come to the feast (11:56).  We should learn to wait patiently for God's presence  This is the same anointing recorded in Matthew (26) and Mark (14) both anointings happened before he departed.  The supper did not take place at Lazarus' house (probably Simon the Leper) as Lazarus one of those who "sat at table" with him.  The amount spent on the spikenard is extravagant.  But Judas goes into a rage because he thinks of the money he could have stolen if he had it in the treasury.  Christ usually asks us to be moderate in our expense and stewardship.  He is not saying here that worship should be extravagant.

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