Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44, 12:1-8
Jesus, Mary and Martha
Mary and Martha lived at Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem. It was in their home that Mary sat at the feet of the Savior, listening to His word. It was at this home that Jesus would raise their brother Lazarus to life. This miracle brought the Sanhedrin to a final decision to put Jesus to death. In this same house, the day before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem Mary anoints Jesus’ head and feet with expensive perfume and wiped them with her hair. What she had done would be told of her wherever her name would be mentioned.
“That money could have been spent serving the poor!” “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages!” Spices and ointments were quite costly because they had to be imported. Frequently they were used as an investment because they occupied a small space, were portable, and were easily negotiable in the open market. Mary’s offering was valued at three hundred denarii (v. 5) approximately a year’s wages for an ordinary workingman. Perhaps it represented her life savings. Wiping his feet with her hair was a gesture of utmost devotion and reverence. The penetrative fragrance of the ointment that filled the house told all present of her sacrificial gift
With whom can you identify more? What can you learn about the progression of sin from Judas who “helped himself” to the communal money and “was later to betray” Jesus? What is the fundamental difference between Mary and Judas as revealed by his objection to what she did? What is the only thing that can explain Mary’s outpouring of this expensive perfume? Why is this appropriate in light of what Jesus was about to do (Vv. 23-24)? How might things have changed for Judas if he had been honest about what was going on in his heart at this point?
Almighty God, You gave Your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Himself. Grant that we, Your adopted children by grace, may daily be renewed by Your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for spiritual renewal, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis