Jesus is God. There is nothing that He doesn’t know. As the sinister leaders in Jerusalem plotted and planned, He was not a victim that would fall in their trap. Rather, in confidence He travelled into Bethany, right outside of Jerusalem, knowing that word would travel quickly to the religious leaders. He was on a mission to obey God. It was the will of God that Jesus give Himself as a sacrifice for sins. This required that He die, and it would be the hatred of the Jewish leaders that would lead them to kill Him.
Jesus journeyed into Bethany with His disciples and sat down for supper with Lazarus and several others from the area. As Jesus was dining, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, came to see Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, we find that as she came, she carried a box made of alabaster stone that she broke open and poured on Jesus. In the Gospel of John we find that she poured it on His feet, but the other accounts explain further, that she poured it on His head and shoulders too. In a display of submission and humility, she then used her hair to wipe His feet. This was one of the most loving things that she could have done.
The conversation at the table stopped as everyone looked to Mary who in a heart full of love for Jesus poured out the most valuable thing she owned. The “spikenard” that she used was worth nearly one year’s wages, and she emptied it out on Jesus her true treasure. There was nothing that she counted as valuable as Him, and in this surprising act of self-sacrifice she demonstrated for everyone there, and to the countless millions who have read this text since that she loved Jesus with everything in her.
It certainly would have been surprising to those sitting at the table, and understandably some might have questioned what exactly was going on. But there was one, the thief as John calls him, Judas Iscariot, who began calculating how much they could have sold the ointment for and began mumbling about what a waste Mary had just made by pouring it on Jesus. Jesus would not let Mary go on being derided by a cruel man like Judas, so He rebuked Judas, “Let her alone.”
Mary had done the right thing; Judas had done the wrong thing. There was one disciple, a woman, who loved Jesus uncontrollably; there was another who had his eyes fixated on money, and would eventually sell-out Jesus for the right price.
As John continues the story, he takes a moment to remind the reader what was happening in Jerusalem. Word had spread that Jesus was with Lazarus in Bethany. Now people in Jerusalem had heard that Lazarus had been raised from the dead. People were travelling in droves out of Jerusalem over to the neighboring town of Bethany to see for themselves that Lazarus really had been resurrected. The frenzied priests sinfully turned their anger toward Lazarus, and began talking about how they could kill Lazarus so that people would stop believing in Jesus. It was one thing to think that Jesus was a blasphemer. It was another thing to want to kill a man to stop people from hearing the truth. Blinded by their sinful hatred, the religious leaders were getting worse and worse. Now they wanted to kill Jesus and Lazarus.
Food For Thought: Why did the religious leaders seek to kill Lazarus?