Monday of Holy Week

“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them[a] with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it[c] so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-11

 

“There is a Name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest Name on earth.

This Name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.

Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!”

“Oh, how I love Jesus” vs. 1,8, by Frederick Whitfield

Jesus knew of the dangers he faced in Jerusalem, but still took time to have dinner with his friends in Bethany.  After Mary had “chosen what is better,” (Luke 10:42) she came to realize more about their family friend, Jesus.  Her understanding led her to love and be devoted to Jesus.

Because of her devotion, she anointed Jesus with “a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair” (v.3). Mary had the courage to act on her love for Jesus.  Her actions were counter-cultural. Women then and now are often restricted by traditions; Jesus called it, “Making void the word of God by your traditions” (Mark 7:14).

Even as the fragrance of her extravagant devotion filled the room, it caused trouble in the hearts around Jesus and Mary at this dinner.  Some attendees were plotting how to kill both Jesus and Mary’s brother, Lazarus.  Even one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas, questioned the extravagance.  Beyond Mary’s intent and understanding, Jesus gave purpose and name to Mary’s act of anointing; “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial” (v. 7).  Her act of devotion showed how much she loved Jesus.

No fear of others stopped Mary from her act of love and devotion.

Like Mary’s, our acts of courage, devotion, adventure, and risk are named and given eternal meaning by God.  “For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

In Bethany Tonight

The fragrance of costly love is still spreading in Bethany.  Costly devotion goes out to Jesus in service at the Four Homes of Mercy for Disabled in Bethany, www.fourhomesofmercy.com.

Four Homes of Mercy, taken from www.fourhomesofmercy.com

Four Homes of Mercy, taken from http://www.fourhomesofmercy.com

Dinner is being served for Jesus in Bethany tonight.  “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Four Homes of Mercy

Four Homes of Mercy, taken from http://www.fourhomesofmercy.com

Please consider an extravagant gift of devotion for Jesus’s dinner tonight in Bethany at the Four Homes of Mercy for Disabled.  Use Advance project # 3020711 United Methodist General Board of Global ministries www.umcmission.org.

Abba Father, we praise you for salvation, for Jesus’ obedience on the cross, for your gift of the power of the resurrection.  We praise you for allowing us to “hear” Jesus say, “But I have called you friends” (John 15:15).

May we have the courage for the adventure as we “present our bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to you, which is our reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Amen.

 Randie Clawson, Former UM Volunteer in Mission in Palestine and Israel

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