The book of John has 21 chapters, and 9 of them cover the last week of Jesus’ life. John gives us more insight into the last week of Jesus’ life than any other writer. One of Jesus’ priorities in the last week of His life was spending time with friends. The story in John 12 took place at the home of Lazarus in Bethany where there was a party honoring Jesus for who He was and all He had done. In verses 9-11, John informs us that a huge number of people came to honor Jesus and see Lazarus because He had been raised from the dead.
Many believed, and Jesus’ popularity was great among the people. The Pharisees decided to kill Lazarus too (chapter 12) because his resurrection had caused many people to move their allegiance from them to Jesus.
A Look at the Characters
Mary- extravagance (John 12:2-3).
Lazarus was sitting at a table with Jesus. In that culture, the men ate alone in their own room and the women served them and ate apart from the men. Martha served the meal to the guys. Mary did three things that were extravagant:
1. She entered the room where the men were dining. This was socially inappropriate.
2. She took a bottle of expensive perfume (nard) worth a year’s wages and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She gave an extravagant gift to Jesus at a high personal cost. She anointed His feet with perfume (the act of a servant). This act was an act of humility, service, and extreme generosity. Note: As believers in Christ, we are no longer servants as they were in the Old Testament, but sons and daughters of God.
3. She let down her hair and wiped Jesus’ feet with it. A woman was never allowed to let her hair down outside of the privacy of her own home. Hair was seen as sensual and could cause men to lust. On her wedding night, a woman would let her hair down for the first time in front of her husband as a sign of commitment and devotion. This was highly inappropriate, but Mary didn’t care. She wanted to honor Jesus with the best of what she had, and she didn’t care how it looked or what others might say. She expressed her love in the most extravagant way she could imagine.
4. Application: Disciples exalt value over cost. Jesus is our Savior, Lord, friend, forgiver, teacher, healer, and so much more. When it comes to love, you don’t count the cost. Love is not measured in calculations. Love is determined by what you give, and not what you keep. Talent is cheap; dedication and trust are of greater cost. You determine value by worth, not cost. Devotion to Christ will never make worldly sense. People claim they would die for Jesus, yet they won’t live for Him. What is the value of Jesus to you? What is He worth? How do you show that value through your life?
Judas- intolerance (John 12:4-6).
Judas objected. He said that the money would have been better spent given to the poor, but John reveals that Judas was a greedy thief, and he just wanted the money available for his selfish use.
1. The core issue for Judas was unfulfilled expectations. Judas had expectations that Jesus was going to set up an earthly Kingdom which would result in Judas being wealthy and powerful. When Judas realized Jesus wasn’t an earthly Messiah, he turned bitter and decided to get what he could out of it (can you imagine the justification Judas used to steal money from the ministry). After this event, Judas went and sold-out Jesus to the Pharisees for money.
2. Application: Disciples don’t judge another person’s devotion. The other gospels tell us all the disciples judged Mary for her inappropriate gift to Jesus. They had their idea of how devotion to God should look. Mary did not follow their “rules” for appropriate devotion, so they criticized her for it. They were intolerant. Following Jesus isn’t always practical from the world’s viewpoint. We need to affirm others who love God, not criticize how they show it. Usually, criticism of other believers is a way to justify our own mediocrity. Take a moment and think about how intolerance toward others may be a sign of heart trouble? The world’s culture has perverted the idea of tolerance and intolerance.
Jesus- magnificence (John 12:7-8).
1. Jesus stood up for Mary and defended her actions. Mary had an insight into Jesus that the other disciples had missed. She understood his death was imminent, and she wanted to give Jesus her best while He was still around to receive it. She seized the moment to show her love to Jesus. She gave her best to Jesus, and He applauded her for it. Jesus protects His people. How magnificent!
2. William Bordon, the heir to the Bordon estate, received a trip around the world as a graduation present from college. On the trip, he developed a heart for the poor and decided to enter the mission field. At this decision, he wrote in his Bible, No Reserves. He turned down many jobs in big companies to go to seminary at Yale. He wrote in his Bible, No Retreats. Upon graduation from seminary, he went to Egypt to train for missions in China. After one month in Egypt, he contracted cerebral meningitis and passed away. Shortly before his death he wrote in his Bible, No Regrets. Would you describe your relationship with Jesus as calculated or extravagant? What thing of great value do you need to pour out at Jesus’ feet as an act of devotion to Him?
Heavenly Father, I don’t want anything else in my life to have a higher priority than You, so I thank you for teaching me through Your Word and the direction and leading of Holy Spirit how to demonstrate my love for You with my obedience and willingness. My priorities are focused on trusting You with all my heart, soul, mind, and being. Therefore, I love You for creating me in Your image, empowering me to do what you have called me to do, and for all THE BLESSINGS which You have given to me. Jesus, I set you as my standard of love.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen
EMIC Groups Pastor