COSTLY DEMONSTRATIONS OF GENUINE DEVOTION TO CHRIST CAN TAKE PRIORITY OVER ONGOING RESPONSIBILITIES OF CHARITABLE GIVING
I. (:1-3) SWEET DEVOTION – ESSENCE OF TRUE WORSHIP
A. (:1) The Description of the Setting – Connection Between Death and Resurrection
1. Timing – Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross Imminent
“six days before the Passover”
“came to Bethany”
3. Significance – Resurrection Power
“where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.’
Stedman: Here we meet again our old friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Here in Bethany they are preparing a special supper for Jesus, not in their own home, but, as we learn from the other gospels, in the home of Simon the leper. We don’t know anything about this man, other than the fact that he had been a leper. Very likely he had been healed by Jesus, otherwise he could not have hosted this supper. There is an implication here that Simon had been touched by Jesus, delivered and freed from his disease. Filled with gratitude for what our Lord had done for him, Simon took this opportunity, despite the fact that there was a warrant out for the arrest of the guest of honor, to serve a private supper for Jesus and his intimate friends.
B. (:2) The Details of the Event – Celebration Meal of Fellowship with Close Friends
1. Fellowship Meal
“So they made Him a supper there,”
2. Dedicated Service (one form of worship, Stedman)
“and Martha was serving;”
3. Intimate Companionship (another form of worship)
“but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.”
C. (:3) The Demonstration of Devotion — Costly Anointing
1. The Cost of Devotion – Nothing but the Best
“Mary therefore took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard”
nothing too extravagant when it comes to expressing love
opening herself up to rebuke and criticism; but motivated by love
2. The Humility of Devotion (another form of worship)
“and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair;”
Morris: This is probably to be taken as an act of utter humility. Mary is taking the lowliest possible place. A little later in this Gospel there is an incident wherein Jesus rebuked the disciples by washing their feet, a menial task which none of them would willingly undertake (13:2ff). To attend to the feet was the task of the most lowly slave.
3. The Sweet Fragrance of Devotion
“and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Devotion to Christ has a pleasing impact on other believers.
Stedman: She spared no expense, she cared nothing for the customs of the day, entering into a supper where women were usually not welcome, letting down her hair in public, an unthinkable act in that culture, and openly expressing her love for Jesus. But that’s how love acts. It is uncaring of expense.
Deffinbaugh: This is not the only account of a woman anointing Jesus in the New Testament. In fact, every one of the Gospels has an “anointing” account, but it does not seem as though all of the Gospel accounts refer to the same event. Luke’s account of the “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee does not seem to be the same as the anointing of which we are reading in John chapter 12. The two accounts in Matthew and Mark, however, do seem to refer to the same incident John describes in our text.
II. (:4-8) SLIMY DECEIT – HEART OF A TRAITOR – COUNTERFEIT LOVE
A. (:4-6) Pretense of Spirituality by Judas
1. (:4) Consider the Source
“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said”
2. (:5) Sounds Like a Plan
“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?”
Objection sounds super spiritual; but masks his lack of genuine love.
3. (:6) Ulterior Motives
“Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.”
Deffinbaugh: Judas Causes a Stink —
Judas presents his case in a way that appeals to the higher motivations of his peers, and which masks his own greed. The perfume is worth a year’s wages. It could be sold, and the money given to the poor. It should be sold and the money given to the poor. A number of his fellow-disciples agree. They look upon Mary with anger and lash out at her. I can almost see her break down in tears as these men shame her for her selfless act of worship.
B. (:7-8) Priority of Devotion to Christ
1. (:7) Restraining Order
“Let her alone, in order that she may keep it for the day of My burial.”
2. (:8) Reordering of Priorities
“For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.”
Mary must have known that opposition to Jesus was mounting and there may not be any more opportunities to so express her devotion. How are we maximizing our opportunities?
(Illustration: When my Dad was dying, I had opportunity to review eulogy with him before delivering it at his funeral.)
III. (:9-11) SNOWBALLING DISSENSION – DIFFERENT REACTIONS
A. (:9) Snowballing Curiosity (regarding both Jesus and Lazarus)
“The great multitude therefore of the Jews learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead.”
B. (:10) Snowballing Plotting (to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus)
“But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also;”
C. (:11) Snowballing Faith
“because on account of him many of the Jews were going away, and were believing in Jesus.”