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Partying with Jesus (A address 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 fragrance made of authentic nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The habitat was filled with the bouquet 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 capital given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to appropriate what was put into it.
) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might retain it for the day of my burial. 8You always keep the poor with you, but you do not always retain me.
” 9When the great collection of the Jews wise that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but moreover to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10So the capital priests shrewd to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on bill of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
I heard alert of a dinner company that took niche to celebrate the 50th nuptial anniversary of a particular couple, and all their descendants and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged woman herself – and as the crepuscule 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 vocal to him, “Dad, I want to acquaint you that I am really touched by the fashion 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 just remember her damn name!”
Things are not always as they appear. This is item that we are all recognized with. I don’t mean to suggest that we are all recognized with forgetting our partner’s expression (though others who own taken as many hits to the skipper as I posses 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 friendly on the surface but where beneath there are a absolute mass of further things going on.
Our Gospel declaiming today depicts moderate such a dinner side – a lovely cordial gathering in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his first friends – Mary and Martha and their monastic Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the person Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may indeed keep 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 decorous and festive occasion.
But things happened that night at the home of Mary and Martha – things that revealed what was really going on beneath the surface of this warm and festive occasion!
Mary took a corral of costly scent made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The habitat was filled with the aroma of the perfume.
This is the circumstance that quite transforms the party!
What was Mary doing?!
In terms of thieve behaviour for a hostess, her actions are as heavy to excuse as they are to explain.
This data of a peeress anointing the feet of Jesus with emollient 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 incident is outrageous!
It would dormant be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t bother trying to get you to believe a similar thing episode at one of our shrine barbeques, with some local miss coming up and pouring gel all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is absurd to surmise that such a object could ever happen! Do you think it was any less risible 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 spot it from the fraud nard that you could glean up at the Bethany markets for a pair 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 digit Mary poured out that night would have been worth the match of a year’s wages for a average working person!
Mary’s progress is outrageously exorbitant, though at the equivalent case it is a bite cheap, or at least she seems to be cheapening herself in the method she performs – falling all over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair!
As I say, it would be unimaginably outrageous were this to arise in the context of one of our retain formal dinners.
Can you assume how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to hire their hair down in public?!
I dispatch 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 ecclesiastical people, bequeath 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 naturally weren’t permitted to nosedive all over a man’s feet in civic and work them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this report (or, at least we conjecture it is a retelling of the identical incident) the countess is unnamed and aptly referred to as ‘a sinner’ (Luke 7:36) – the assumption being that she is a sex-worker. This would be the general assumption you would make if you epigram a children woman operate in this way!
Was this item that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t shrewd on behaving like this? Was it fair her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her lover friar or was it other than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The end key 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 suppose her sitting there, starry-eyed, besotted with Jesus.
Poor thing! She was only young. How could she resist falling in heart with Jesus? Even so, surely she could have shown a seldom greater self-control in the routine 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 heavy to understand, and the only something harder to fathom in this message than Mary’s outrageous phrase of affection is why Jesus doesn’t put a stop to it for the welfare of Mary and for the wellbeing of the gap of her issue (even if He wasn’t worried about His obtain reputation)!
The sentiment of the disciples is a rarely fresh predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I surmise that each one of the disciples of Jesus would keep been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political validity – makes no reference to the sensual mind of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this redolence not sold for three hundred denarii and the budgetary given to the poor?” (John 12:5)
Judas’ comment once again reveals that there are things going on under 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 retain at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really apportion a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the fiscal for himself, and this comment does indeed assistance fill out the illustration of greed and betrayal that was underlying the mirthful party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the gospel that Judas’ interrogation in and of itself was a pretty interest one! Indeed, if it hadn’t been for John’s comments and for Jesus’ warmth you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘hey, the disciples are really starting to obtain the message!’
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