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Partying with Jesus (A talk on John 12:1-11)
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
2There they gave a dinner for him.
Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
3Mary took a pound of costly smell made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.
The quarters was filled with the redolence of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this bouquet not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He verbal this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the normal purse and used to thieve what was put into it.
) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might own it for the day of my burial.
8You always own the poor with you, but you do not always hold me.
” 9When the big gathering of the Jews sensible that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but furthermore to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10So the chief priests tactical to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on report of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
I heard advise of a dinner side that took cubby-hole to celebrate the 50th nuptial anniversary of a particular couple, and all their offspring and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged female herself – and as the sunset progressed and as speeches were made, the daughter was struck by the method that her father always referred to her mother as ‘dear’ or ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’.
When she got a moment alone with him she spoken to him, “Dad, I deprivation to caution you that I am really touched by the practice you always cite to mum using affectionate those terms – ‘sweetie’ and ‘dear’ and ‘honey’”, to which her father replied, “well … it might be different if I could equitable remember her damn name!”
Things are not always as they appear.
This is entity that we are all recognized with.
I don’t mean to suggest that we are all close with forgetting our partner’s period (though others who keep taken as many hits to the probe as I obtain taken may be struggling in that department) but I query we are all confidential with those sorts of dinner parties where things are warm and sociable on the surface but where under there are a flawless mountain of supplementary things going on.
Our Gospel enumeration today depicts equitable such a dinner team – a lovely cordial collection in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his prime friends – Mary and Martha and their prior Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the companion Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may positively posses been organised, at least in part, to celebrate that incredible incident, as Lazarus appears to be seated alongside Jesus.
At any rate, however we construct the background to this particular party, it had all the hallmarks of a correct and festive occasion.
But things happened that night at the home of Mary and Martha – things that revealed what was really going on subservient the surface of this warm and festive occasion!
Mary took a paddock of costly bouquet made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.
The house was filled with the bouquet of the perfume.
This is the circumstance that entirely transforms the party!
What was Mary doing?!
In terms of appropriate behaviour for a hostess, her actions are as difficult to excuse as they are to explain.
This report of a noblewoman anointing the feet of Jesus with salve and wiping His feet with her hair turns up in all four of our Gospels, and no wonder it stuck in the minds of each of those who recorded the stories of Jesus.
The circumstance is outrageous!
It would still be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t goad trying to earn you to think a selfsame entity episode at one of our altar barbeques, with some local girl coming up and pouring balm all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is risible to believe that such a phenomenon could ever happen! Do you suppose it was any less absurd and unimaginable in blessing century Judea?
What was she thinking? We are told that Mary had around half a kilo of ‘real nard’, which is intended to identify it from the charlatan nard that you could collect up at the Bethany markets for a span of shekels.
Real nard apparently came from the mountains of northern India which explains why it was so expensive, and it’s suggested that the number Mary poured out that night would retain been worth the duplicate of a year’s fee for a natural working person!
Mary’s locomotion is outrageously exorbitant, though at the equivalent time it is a morsel cheap, or at least she seems to be cheapening herself in the procedure she performs – falling all over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair!
As I say, it would be unimaginably outrageous were this to follow in the context of one of our obtain formal dinners.
Can you suppose how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to contract their hair down in public?!
I note that this year they’ve had to re-route the Palestinian Marathon so that it by-passes Gaza as the Hamas authorities in Gaza, being conservative dogmatic people, leave not permit men and women to run together! They weren’t permitted to run together in Jesus’ day either! They weren’t permitted to run together and they weren’t permitted to even say together in public.
Women positively weren’t permitted to nosedive all over a man’s feet in civic and form them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this information (or, at least we think it is a retelling of the same incident) the gentlewoman is unnamed and plainly referred to as ‘a sinner’ (Luke 7:36) – the assumption being that she is a sex-worker.
This would be the standard assumption you would make if you saw a offspring woman operate in this way!
Was this thing that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t tactical on behaving like this? Was it moderate her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her girlfriend religious or was it other than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The later clue seems intuitively attractive of course, and it fits with the earlier report we secure of Mary (in Luke 10:38-42), sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teachings.
We can believe her sitting there, starry-eyed, besotted with Jesus.
Poor thing! She was only young.
How could she resist falling in passion with Jesus? Even so, surely she could posses shown a hardly greater self-control in the method she expressed that love.
Now I appreciate that I am starting to speculate, and possibly we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about Mary’s emotional state.
Even so, Mary’s actions are tiring to understand, and the only entity harder to divine in this facts than Mary’s outrageous spell of affection is why Jesus doesn’t put a cease to it for the sake of Mary and for the benefit of the halt of her descendants (even if He wasn’t worried about His obtain reputation)!
The sensation of the disciples is a infrequently supplementary predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I reckon that each one of the disciples of Jesus would posses been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political precision – makes no allusion to the sensual temperament of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this bouquet not sold for three hundred denarii and the monetary given to the poor?” (John 12:5)
Judas’ comment once again reveals that there are things going on subservient the surface of this dinner party.
There are tensions between Jesus and the disciples, and there were obviously tensions between the disciples themselves!
The Gospel writer adds a parenthetical comment of his posses at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really donate a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the pecuniary for himself, and this comment does naturally aegis fill out the portrayal of greed and betrayal that was underlying the jovial party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the fact that Judas’ dispute in and of itself was a pretty interest one! Indeed, if it hadn’t been for John’s comments and for Jesus’ sensation you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘hey, the disciples are really starting to attain the message!’
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