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Partying with Jesus (A discourse 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 field of costly bouquet made of actual nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The quarters was filled with the scent of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this scent not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He oral this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the regular purse and used to rob 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 own the poor with you, but you do not always hold me.
” 9When the large assembly of the Jews politic that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but further to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10So the important priests shrewd to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
I heard acquaint of a dinner side that took recess to celebrate the 50th conjugal anniversary of a particular couple, and all their young and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged noblewoman herself – and as the sundown progressed and as speeches were made, the daughter was struck by the way 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 privation to tell you that I am really touched by the practice you always touch to mum using affectionate those terms – ‘sweetie’ and ‘dear’ and ‘honey’”, to which her father replied, “well … it might be different if I could reasonable remember her damn name!”
Things are not always as they appear. This is something that we are all close with. I don’t mean to suggest that we are all recognized with forgetting our partner’s phrase (though others who obtain taken as many hits to the head as I keep taken may be struggling in that department) but I doubt we are all confidential with those sorts of dinner parties where things are warm and sociable on the surface but where unbefitting there are a full mound of further things going on.
Our Gospel enumeration today depicts moderate such a dinner side – a lovely cordial assembly in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his elite friends – Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the friend Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may unquestionably 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 decorous and festive occasion.
But things happened that night at the home of Mary and Martha – things that revealed what was really going on underneath 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 dwelling was filled with the perfume of the perfume.
This is the occurrence that wholly transforms the party!
What was Mary doing?!
In terms of filch behaviour for a hostess, her actions are as strenuous to excuse as they are to explain.
This data of a noblewoman 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 happening is outrageous!
It would still be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t pest trying to gain you to surmise a similar thing afair at one of our sanctum barbeques, with some local maid coming up and pouring balm all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is ludicrous to think that such a device could ever happen! Do you reckon it was any less absurd and unimaginable in first 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 gather 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 obtain been worth the equivalent of a year’s stipend for a ordinary working person!
Mary’s mobility is outrageously exorbitant, though at the twin point it is a grain cheap, or at least she seems to be cheapening herself in the style she performs – falling all over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair!
As I say, it would be unimaginably outrageous were this to happen in the context of one of our own formal dinners.
Can you reckon how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to charter 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 divine people, cede 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 drop all over a man’s feet in national and rub them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this message (or, at least we conjecture it is a retelling of the duplicate incident) the peeress 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 general assumption you would make if you adage a issue female cope in this way!
Was this item that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t shrewd on behaving like this? Was it impartial her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her sweetheart monk or was it supplementary than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The end solution seems intuitively beguiling of course, and it fits with the earlier story we secure of Mary (in Luke 10:38-42), sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His teachings.
We can surmise her sitting there, starry-eyed, besotted with Jesus.
Poor thing! She was only young. How could she resist falling in affection with Jesus? Even so, surely she could posses shown a little greater self-control in the procedure she expressed that love.
Now I appreciate that I am starting to speculate, and perhaps we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about Mary’s emotional state.
Even so, Mary’s actions are arduous to understand, and the only thing harder to perceive in this announcement than Mary’s outrageous term of heart is why Jesus doesn’t put a delay to it for the gain of Mary and for the profit of the delay of her progeny (even if He wasn’t worried about His hold reputation)!
The passion of the disciples is a little other predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I assume that each one of the disciples of Jesus would retain been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political authenticity – makes no extract to the sensual nature of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this aroma 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 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 posses at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really give a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the money for himself, and this comment does certainly aid fill out the picture of greed and betrayal that was underlying the convivial party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the truth that Judas’ interrogation in and of itself was a pretty gain 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 secure the message!’
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