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Partying with Jesus (A lecture 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 corral of costly bouquet made of actual nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The dwelling was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this aroma not sold for three hundred denarii and the financial given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the regular purse and used to abstract what was put into it.
) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always obtain the poor with you, but you do not always obtain me.
” 9When the immense company of the Jews shrewd that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10So the important priests skilful to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on invoice of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
I heard apprise of a dinner party that took vocation to celebrate the 50th nuptial anniversary of a particular couple, and all their successors and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged woman herself – and as the evening 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 uttered to him, “Dad, I deficiency to warn you that I am really touched by the fashion you always refer 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 phenomenon that we are all recognized with. I don’t mean to suggest that we are all recognized with forgetting our partner’s phrase (though others who have taken as many hits to the probe as I hold taken may be struggling in that department) but I question we are all confidential with those sorts of dinner parties where things are warm and amiable on the surface but where beneath there are a whole mass of fresh things going on.
Our Gospel enumeration today depicts logical such a dinner gang – a lovely friendly assembly in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his top friends – Mary and Martha and their abbot Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the individual Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may indeed have 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 genteel 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 enclosure of costly smell made of veritable nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The domicile was filled with the perfume of the perfume.
This is the occurrence that quite transforms the party!
What was Mary doing?!
In terms of steal behaviour for a hostess, her actions are as laborious to excuse as they are to explain.
This data of a female anointing the feet of Jesus with ointment 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 inert be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t worry trying to achieve you to think a similar phenomenon occurrence at one of our shrine barbeques, with some local colleen coming up and pouring liniment all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is derisory to surmise that such a phenomenon could ever happen! Do you assume it was any less ridiculous and unimaginable in elite century Judea?
What was she thinking? We are told that Mary had around half a kilo of ‘real nard’, which is intended to discern it from the fraud nard that you could glean 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 cipher Mary poured out that night would obtain been worth the duplicate of a year’s pament for a normal working person!
Mary’s motion is outrageously exorbitant, though at the identical occasion it is a bit 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 chance in the context of one of our hold formal dinners.
Can you assume how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to lease their hair down in public?!
I missive 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 theological 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 talk together in public. Women indeed weren’t permitted to plunge all over a man’s feet in state and work them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this announcement (or, at least we imagine it is a retelling of the corresponding incident) the female is unnamed and wittily 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 epigram a family countess operate in this way!
Was this something that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t adroit on behaving like this? Was it equitable her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her boyfriend brother or was it supplementary than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The second guide seems intuitively captivating of course, and it fits with the earlier news we get 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 feelings with Jesus? Even so, surely she could own shown a scarcely greater self-control in the means 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 hard to understand, and the only article harder to perceive in this report than Mary’s outrageous period of feelings is why Jesus doesn’t put a pause to it for the interest of Mary and for the good of the desist of her issue (even if He wasn’t worried about His keep reputation)!
The reaction of the disciples is a rarely more predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I conjecture that each one of the disciples of Jesus would posses been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political rectness – makes no quotation to the sensual temperament of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this redolence not sold for three hundred denarii and the money 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 have at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really allot a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the financial for himself, and this comment does indeed assistance fill out the delineation of greed and betrayal that was underlying the jovial party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the gospel that Judas’ question in and of itself was a pretty benefit one! Indeed, if it hadn’t been for John’s comments and for Jesus’ feeling you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘hey, the disciples are really starting to achieve the message!’
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