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Monday, April 30, 2018

Jesus is Anointed at Bethany – John 12:4-11

          Last week, we saw that Mary sacrificed her expensive perfume to anoint Jesus for burial. Mary gave her best as the high expression of her love for Jesus. Followers of Christ are also His vessel that can be broken so His sweet fragrance can be seen in and from us. The world may call our love and sacrifice for Jesus a waste, but Jesus treasures it! Jesus said that Mary’s act of love would be told wherever the gospel is preached. (see Matthew 26:13) Mary’s gift to Jesus was a lasting one. As Mary poured out her sweet fragrance upon the feet of Jesus, Jesus wants us to pour out ourselves upon Him in love and service to Him and others. Jesus gave His all for us. He wants us to give our all for Him. Mary fulfilled Song of Songs 1:12. She knew the worth of Jesus. Love for Jesus must be the motive for all we do for Him. God sees our hearts. Those who want to be like Mary must sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him. It was Mary’s devotion to Jesus and His Word at His feet that led her to give her best gift to Him. It is in understanding and doing the Word that brings the sweet fragrance of His sacrificial love out of us. Our sacrifice for Christ is never wasted! All that we do for Jesus must be done with gratitude and love.
         We also learned last week that Martha’s action represented “work,” Mary’s was “worship” and Lazarus was a “witness.” John 12:9 says that a large crowd came to Jerusalem to not only see Jesus but also “Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jerusalem and putting their faith in him.” Jesus wants His followers to have a balance of work, worship and witness. The Sadducee's didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the Jews believed a resurrection would occur on the last day. So, they wanted to not only destroy Jesus but Lazarus also. The religious leaders wanted to keep their power and authority. To do this, they must destroy the evidence and truth to support their own beliefs. Christians must also be careful to rightly-divide the Word of God so they are not led by untruth.

Judas Protests – John 12:4-6
          Mary is a true believer in Christ. Judas is a false one. Mary is generous and loves and serves Jesus with her whole heart. Judas is greedy and self-serving. There is a result of both.
        But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him objected. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” John 12:4-5 This is Judas’ first words in the gospels. His last words were, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Matthew 27:4   Deuteronomy 21:8-9 tells God’s people to “purge themselves of the guilt of shedding innocent blood, since you have done what is right in the eyes of the Lord.” Judas knew the Older Testament scriptures and is disobeying this.
            Judas thought Mary’s perfume was wasted on Jesus. Judas was a thief who took care of the money box and stole some of the money for himself. Judas clothed his greed with benevolence. Judas makes it sound like he has concern for the poor, but, he only wants to fill his own pockets. “He (Judas) did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Vv5-6 This was the beginning of Judas’ betrayal. Judas loved money more than Jesus! “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10  Jesus who is all-knowing knew what Judas would do. “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” John 6:70. Judas and the religious leaders who wanted to kill Jesus were hypocritical but God will use them to carry out His plan. Jesus had to die and be resurrected. The devil empowered Judas to do what he was about to do. His love of money and thievery opened the door for Satan to work. Judas is the contrast to Mary.

Jesus Defends His Own – John 12:7-8
          “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.” Vv7-8 There will always be need on earth. There will be opportunities to help the poor but Jesus will not always be present. (see Deuteronomy 15:11) He is worth all our unselfish love – more than all the poor of the world. He gave His all for us. We are to give our all to Him. His unending love is worth all that we are and all that we have – our all! Mary understood this.
            Mary anointed Jesus 6 days before His death. She knew the worth of Jesus. She also knew that God’s Perfect Passover Lamb was about to be put to death and then resurrected. She had seen Jesus resurrect her brother Lazarus from death. After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus anointed Jesus’ dead body for burial with myrrh and aloes fit for a king, but Mary anointed Him before He died. Jesus would overcome death and the grave and raise Himself up from death as He had done for Mary’s brother Lazarus, and as He will do for all who believe in Him. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” 1 Corinthians 15:13-15
            It was Mary’s devotion to Jesus and His Word while sitting at His feet that led her to give her best gift to Him. The Jewish leaders and Judas who wanted to kill Jesus wasted their lives on themselves. Our sacrifice to Christ is never wasted. Mary fellowshipped with His sufferings! The religious leaders and Judas loved power and money.
            It is interesting that Jesus did not reveal Judas’ heart here. The hypocrites will be exposed by their own actions and words. Even at the Lord’s Supper, Jesus did not name Judas. Judas’ own actions and guilt revealed him, as did the guilt of those who condemned Jesus to death. Jesus didn’t come the first time to condemn the world. He came to save it. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Jesus made it clear that His true followers would be revealed by their fruit – the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Matthew 7:17: “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” 
                                                 (next week: The Triumphal Entry)

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