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Partying with Jesus (A speech 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 paddock of costly scent made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The accommodation 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 perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the financial given to the poor?” 6(He spoken this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the usual purse and used to purloin what was put into it.
) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might hold it for the day of my burial. 8You always keep the poor with you, but you do not always posses me.
” 9When the substantial gathering of the Jews sage 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 cash priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on balance of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
I heard tell of a dinner team that took cranny to celebrate the 50th conjugal anniversary of a particular couple, and all their issue and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged countess herself – and as the eventide progressed and as speeches were made, the daughter was struck by the style that her father always referred to her mother as ‘dear’ or ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’. When she got a moment alone with him she verbal to him, “Dad, I deficiency to advise you that I am really touched by the procedure you always remit to mum using affectionate those terms – ‘sweetie’ and ‘dear’ and ‘honey’”, to which her father replied, “well … it might be different if I could impartial remember her damn name!”
Things are not always as they appear. This is thing that we are all known with. I don’t mean to suggest that we are all recognized with forgetting our partner’s duration (though others who keep taken as many hits to the leader as I own taken may be struggling in that department) but I suspect we are all recognized with those sorts of dinner parties where things are warm and neighbourly on the surface but where subservient there are a complete mass of other things going on.
Our Gospel enumeration today depicts reasonable such a dinner group – a lovely generous gathering in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his blessing friends – Mary and Martha and their monastic Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the comrade Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may naturally obtain 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 cultivated and festive occasion.
But things happened that night at the home of Mary and Martha – things that revealed what was really going on unbefitting the surface of this warm and festive occasion!
Mary took a meadow of costly bouquet made of TRUE nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The accommodation was filled with the smell of the perfume.
This is the event that entirely transforms the party!
What was Mary doing?!
In terms of thieve behaviour for a hostess, her actions are as hard to excuse as they are to explain.
This information of a lady anointing the feet of Jesus with liniment 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 occurrence is outrageous!
It would idle be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t bother trying to earn you to suppose a corresponding thing happening at one of our sanctum barbeques, with some local bird coming up and pouring embrocating all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is laughable to suppose that such a device could ever happen! Do you reckon it was any less derisive and unimaginable in prime 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 fraud nard that you could pluck up at the Bethany markets for a duo 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 unit Mary poured out that night would keep been worth the duplicate of a year’s remuneration for a average working person!
Mary’s travel is outrageously exorbitant, though at the same point it is a bit cheap, or at least she seems to be cheapening herself in the manner she performs – falling all over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair!
As I say, it would be unimaginably outrageous were this to transpire in the context of one of our obtain formal dinners.
Can you reckon how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to sublet their hair down in public?!
I memorandum 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 holy people, will 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 gibber together in public. Women positively weren’t permitted to plunge all over a man’s feet in civic and work them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this data (or, at least we assume it is a retelling of the alike incident) the woman is unnamed and tidily referred to as ‘a sinner’ (Luke 7:36) – the assumption being that she is a sex-worker. This would be the average assumption you would make if you aphorism a family lady cope in this way!
Was this body that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t planned on behaving like this? Was it just her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her beloved prior or was it other than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The closing guide seems intuitively attractive of course, and it fits with the earlier facts we procure of Mary (in Luke 10:38-42), sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teachings.
We can think her sitting there, starry-eyed, besotted with Jesus.
Poor thing! She was only young. How could she resist falling in emotions with Jesus? Even so, surely she could have shown a scarcely greater self-control in the method she expressed that love.
Now I appreciate that I am starting to speculate, and feasibly we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about Mary’s emotional state.
Even so, Mary’s actions are difficult to understand, and the only object harder to sound in this message than Mary’s outrageous name of emotions is why Jesus doesn’t put a desist to it for the interest of Mary and for the behalf of the pause of her progeny (even if He wasn’t worried about His keep reputation)!
The feeling of the disciples is a scarcely additional predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I suppose that each one of the disciples of Jesus would keep been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political rectness – makes no selection to the sensual temperament of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this fragrance not sold for three hundred denarii and the pecuniary given to the poor?” (John 12:5)
Judas’ comment once again reveals that there are things going on underneath 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 obtain at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really apportion a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the cash for himself, and this comment does certainly backing fill out the drawing of greed and betrayal that was underlying the convivial party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the gospel that Judas’ query in and of itself was a pretty good one! Indeed, if it hadn’t been for John’s comments and for Jesus’ response you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘hey, the disciples are really starting to secure the message!’
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