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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 corral of costly perfume made of real nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the perfume of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this smell not sold for three hundred denarii and the budgetary given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the average purse and used to purloin 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 keep the poor with you, but you do not always keep me.
” 9When the large mass of the Jews shrewd that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but besides to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10So the capital priests strategic 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 notify of a dinner bunch that took place to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of a particular couple, and all their descendants and friends were there, including the couple’s only daughter – now a middle-aged gentlewoman herself – and as the sundown progressed and as speeches were made, the daughter was struck by the procedure 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 want to advise you that I am really touched by the system 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 known with. I don’t mean to suggest that we are all familiar with forgetting our partner’s word (though others who keep taken as many hits to the master as I have taken may be struggling in that department) but I question 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 absolute stack of further things going on.
Our Gospel rendering today depicts reasonable such a dinner team – a lovely cordial mass in Bethany that was put together for Jesus by three of his first friends – Mary and Martha and their religious Lazarus.
Lazarus, if you remember, was the companion Jesus famously raised from the dead, and it appears that this dinner may unquestionably 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 ladylike 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 meadow of costly fragrance made of legitimate nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The domicile was filled with the smell of the perfume.
This is the event that completely 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 balm 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 episode is outrageous!
It would quiescent be outrageous if it happened today.
I won’t tease trying to secure you to reckon a twin item incident at one of our sanctum barbeques, with some local schoolgirl coming up and pouring salve all over the feet of me or one of the wardens as it is ludicrous to believe that such a device could ever happen! Do you reckon it was any less absurd and unimaginable in top century Judea?
What was she thinking? We are told that Mary had around half a kilo of ‘real nard’, which is intended to distinguish it from the impostor nard that you could reap 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 digit Mary poured out that night would posses been worth the equal of a year’s earnings for a regular working person!
Mary’s locomotion is outrageously exorbitant, though at the alike circumstance it is a bite cheap, or at least she seems to be cheapening herself in the system she performs – falling all over Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair!
As I say, it would be unimaginably outrageous were this to occure in the context of one of our obtain formal dinners.
Can you assume how this would go down in a culture where women were never permitted to charter 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 ecclesiastical people, entrust 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 positively weren’t permitted to nosedive all over a man’s feet in state and press them with their hair!
In Luke’s retelling of this information (or, at least we believe it is a retelling of the twin incident) the woman is unnamed and cleverly referred to as ‘a sinner’ (Luke 7:36) – the assumption being that she is a sex-worker. This would be the typical assumption you would make if you proverb a descendants countess cope in this way!
Was this entity that happened spontaneously? Surely Mary hadn’t strategic on behaving like this? Was it impartial her gratitude to Jesus for having restored the life of her betrothed religious or was it fresh than that? Was she besotted with Jesus?
The modern key seems intuitively alluring of course, and it fits with the earlier story we earn 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 feelings with Jesus? Even so, surely she could hold shown a rarely greater self-control in the means she expressed that love.
Now I appreciate that I am starting to speculate, and conceivably we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about Mary’s emotional state.
Even so, Mary’s actions are tiring to understand, and the only item harder to grasp in this message than Mary’s outrageous period of heart is why Jesus doesn’t put a halt to it for the benefit of Mary and for the interest of the pause of her successors (even if He wasn’t worried about His hold reputation)!
The sensation of the disciples is a infrequently further predictable.
Judas is credited as being the one to actually voice disapproval, though I imagine that each one of the disciples of Jesus would posses been squirming in his seat.
Judas – ever the one for political authenticity – makes no selection to the sensual mind of Mary’s actions but only refers to her outrageous extravagance: “Why was this bouquet not sold for three hundred denarii and the financial 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 keep at this point, explaining that Judas didn’t really grant a damn about poor but was interested in keeping the fiscal for himself, and this comment does certainly aid fill out the delineation of greed and betrayal that was underlying the jolly party-scene.
Even so, this should not distract us from the actuality that Judas’ query in and of itself was a pretty gain one! Indeed, if it hadn’t been for John’s comments and for Jesus’ passion you’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘hey, the disciples are really starting to obtain the message!’
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