Unleashing love



Focus passage John 12:1-8
Holy Monday March 21, 2016

Focus passage: Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound of very expensive perfume made of pure nard.  She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair.  The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. John 12:3

Mary brings in a jar full of costly nard and unleashes this powerful scent into the room, over powering any lingering scent of death and it takes over everything.  And we wonder why.

Surely she did it out of gratitude; surely she did it because in that moment, as in many moments prior to this one, she saw the presence of God in a powerful way in Jesus.  She did it because, ultimately, he did come, and he listened, and he wept and he cared and he brought life back to her brother.

Oh my, he did the unbelievable and so in this moment she does the unbelievable as well.  She gets the bottle worth a year’s wages and pours it all on her Savior’s feet, this extravagant gift.

Can you imagine having someone lost and dead, restored and brought back to you? So she pours out the nard and anoints his feet right in the middle of her home and Judas speaks up. Choking on the generosity, choking perhaps on his own betrayal.

She brings most likely what was left over from Lazarus’ own burial and the room stops when she opens the jar and silence falls on the gathering.  And Judas bumbles and knows he has to say something, he has to state the obvious because clearly no one else is saying it or maybe just maybe he is hoping to avoid the obvious, she is anointing Jesus for his death.

So he shouts out into the silence of the night, among those who had mourned and now rejoiced, among the one who was dead and is now alive, among the one he had followed and will betray, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages!  Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” Oh silly Judas, how easily you try and turn the tables and make it seem like Mary doesn’t know what she is doing.  In a way that is how this plays out in the other gospel writers’ accounts, but their nard anointing ladies aren’t even named.  But not John, he tells us that this is one of Jesus’ beloved friends, this is Mary who sat at his feet and listened to him teach in her very house.  This is Mary, much like the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures performing a sign act.

Like Ezekiel who ate the scroll of the Lord as a sign act showing that he carried the world of God inside of himself. Or like Jeremiah who smashed a clay jar to show God’s judgment on Jerusalem and Judah.  Or like Isaiah who walked around with nothing on as an oracle against the nations for three years.  That’s what prophets do.  They do unusual things to catch our attention and act out the truth so that we can see it, right there in plain sight.  They state the obvious that we are unwilling to even acknowledge. So Mary acts.  She approaches Jesus and opens the jar and she anoints his feet.  

Prayer:  God walk with me through this week of betrayal, denial, desertion and crucifixion.  In the noise and busy-ness of my day may I remember to stay grounded in your love.  Amen.

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