Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11), causing many to believe in him. But this also provoked the anger and jealousy of the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were all united in their plans to kill him (John 11:53).
Jesus had retreated to the town of Ephraim (John 11:54) and stayed there until it was time to come for the Passover. Within a couple weeks of the Passover, He had traveled north from Ephraim through the middle of Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11), and joined the bands of Galilean pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem .
As the crowds neared Jerusalem on Friday, Jesus had split from the group and spent the Sabbath in the nearby town of Bethany. It was there in Bethany that Simon, a healed leper, had hosted a feast for Jesus and his disciples on Saturday night.
During the dinner, Mary shocked the entire crowd. She approached Jesus as he reclined at the table with the dinner guests. She then broke a priceless bottle of perfume and proceeded to pour it on his head. She moved to his feet with the perfume and unbound her hair, using her hair to wipe up the excess from his feet.
The fragrance of this strong perfume permeated the entire house.
Mary’s actions shocked the crowd as she proceeded to anoint his head and wash his feet. But the disciples were deeply scandalized when someone started to add up the cost of the perfume that was wasted on Jesus. Judas lead the disciples in scolding her, saying that this cost over a year’s wage. Why not use that to help the poor?
Jesus’ response to Judas was sharp and abrupt, “Leave her alone!” Her worship of him was more important than even helping the poor.
Mary alone understood that Jesus was coming to die and she was preparing him for his burial. Her story will now forever be joined with the story of the Gospel itself. “She has done a beautiful thing.”
This scene would burn in Judas’ memory. He was still stinging from Jesus’ rebuke three days later when he goes to the chief priests and offers to betray the Lord Jesus Christ.
The other 11 disciples should have known better. They had been following Jesus for the last three and a half years, yet they were so caught up in themselves that they missed what Jesus was trying to teach them.
Mary was the only one who understood what was going on.
This short account opens the final week of Jesus’ ministry on earth. This final week will mark the highest and lowest points of Jesus’ entire days on earth. He will teach his disciples and confront his enemies but there is one primary purpose throughout this week.
He has come to die.
- From the example of Judas, we need to beware lest we become hardened through unbelief. As it says in Hebrews 3:12-13, we need to encourage each other daily!
- From the example of the 11 disciples, don’t be so caught up in ourselves that we miss what Jesus is saying to us!
- Finally, from the example of Mary, would we all be so caught up with love for the Lord Jesus Christ that we are ready to lavish our most valuable possessions on him!
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