Scripture reading – John 12; Matthew 22

You will find today’s Scripture reading continues a parallel of events in the Synoptic Gospels, but the Gospel of John (not one of the synoptics) also provided the apostle John’s perspective on events in the final week of our LORD’s earthly ministry.

For instance, John gives his eyewitness observation of Jesus and His disciples having supper at the home of Simon the Leper (12:1-9), as did Mark (14:3) and Matthew (26:6). Each of those Gospels also recorded Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, offering a precious sacrifice of ointment, which she poured out on Jesus in preparation for His death on the Cross (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-11).

I remind you again, the events recorded by the apostles are not always in chronological order by chapter and verse in our Bibles. Our reading assignment is lengthy, and I will attempt to be as brief as possible in my devotional thoughts.

John 12:1-8 – Supper at the Home of Simon the Leper

We find Jesus and His disciples having supper (John 12:2) at the home of a man whom Mark identified as “Simon the leper” (Mark 14:3). Knowing a leper would be an outcast in Jewish society, we presume Simon was no longer a leper, and had been the object of Jesus’ compassion and healing grace. John stated Martha was serving, and “Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him” (12:2b).

The meal was suddenly interrupted when Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took “a pound of ointment of spikenard very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment” (12:3). Mary’s actions were an example of extravagant, sacrificial love (12:3-4), and an expression of her gratitude to Jesus for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead. She sacrificed her most precious possession (12:3a), for spikenard was a costly fragrance imported from India (and according to Judas, worth 300 pence, or 300 days wages, 12:5). Mary was a picture of humility and loving devotion, for she used her hair to wipe our LORD’S feet (12:3b).

Regrettably, the beautiful portrait of loving devotion on Mary’s part was interrupted by the protests of a swindler, a phony, and a fraud named Judas, one of the Twelve (12:4-6). We read, “then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should [would] betray him, 5  Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence [one year’s wages], and given to the poor?” (12:4-5 ) Judas resented Mary’s homage to Jesus, and the other disciples were influenced by his hypocrisy. In the words of Mark, the disciples “had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?” (Mark 14:4) Matthew recalled the disciples expressing the same sentiment in his Gospel (Matthew 26:8-9).

The first words of Judas recorded in the Gospels, revealed the covetousness of his heart. John looked back on that moment, and later wrote of Judas, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor [poor people]; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (12:6 ).

Judas’ biting criticism of Mary’s sacrificial love and actions, invited the wrath of Jesus who rebuked him saying, Let her alone: against the day of my burying [burial] hath she kept [made preparation] this. 8  For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” (12:7-8).

Closing thoughts – Consider how Mary offered the LORD not only her most precious possession, but she seized the opportunity to identify with Christ’s sacrifice: She anointed Him for His burial (12:7).

While others were deaf to Jesus prophesying His hour, the hour of His sacrifice for the sins of the world, was come; Mary had faith Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God.

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