Bethany

We can hear the anger of John in his description of Judas.
Writing many years later, John still seethed at the treachery of Judas. Jesus knew this all along. Why did He let it continue? He should have expelled such a man from the team. If Jesus had done that… There was no use speculating. Judas had a role to play in the drama we call “The Passion.”

A Dinner in Bethany
The large, comfortable home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had been the scene of many a gathering of Jesus and His men, but this party was held in the home of another man rescued by Jesus—a former leper named Simon. Martha was in charge (She loved being in charge!) of the whole event. Hospitality was her gift and she was never happier than when her apron was dusted with flour and her hair was pulled back. She would grumble under her breath and complain about the lack of help, especially from her lazy sister, but everyone saw through her ruse. Even in the unfamiliar kitchen, Martha was having a ball. There was a crowd outside the house. Everybody wanted to see Lazarus, the man who went into a tomb and came back out again, and Jesus, the man whose command brought Lazarus out.

Mary, the Worshiper
She was the dreamer, the silent witness who kept her observations to herself. The level of worship Mary brought to Jesus resulted in a level of understanding that others did not receive. The loss and restoration of her brother had done something in her heart that no one else understood. Unlike so many others, Mary really listened to what Jesus said. Repeatedly, Jesus had warned them that He had come to give life to those who believed but also to give His life for everyone. Mary took these words to heart. When she saw neighbors unwrapping Lazarus from the graveclothes, her joy was tinged with sorrow. In her mind, she saw Jesus similarly contained in the binding garments of death. Who would call Him out?

The Alabaster Jar
Somewhere safe Mary kept a treasure—a full pound of anointing oil—contained in an alabaster jar. This valuable perfume, imported from India, was of extreme value, the equivalent of a year’s wages for a common laborer. While others were enjoying the meal, Mary obsessed over this alabaster jar and the nearness of Jesus. Without speaking, she produced the alabaster jar. Kneeling at the feet of Jesus, she broke the neck of the jar and poured its contents on His feet.

As she stroked His feet with her long hair, the fragrance of the perfume filled Simon’s house. All conversation stopped and every eye was upon her. Some saw her act of worship while others saw an act of waste. While some wept with her in adoration, Judas rebuked her for her reckless action. Caught with his heart revealed, Judas quickly pled the cause of the poor but his protests rang hollow. Jesus rebuked him

“Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.”

Silence now, except for the soft weeping of the sister of Lazarus. She realized events were building to a conclusion. Jesus lifted her swollen face in His hands and looked deep into her spirit. She did not turn away as His eyes searched her soul.

“For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

Lazarus thought of the darkness of the tomb and tried to imagine Jesus a prisoner there.

Scriptures:
John 12:1-8

Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
Matthew 26:6-13
And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I see Mary’s gift of her alabaster jar as the supreme example of True Worship. You were her total focus. She did not perform this act of worship before men and their disdain of it and of her did not prevent her from following through. She pleased You and earned Your highest commendation. You said, “Leave her alone. She has done what she could. She has done a beautiful thing to me.” You connected her worship with the preaching of the gospel. All of these things I wish for my worship of You. She was in Your will in the moment preparing You for Your tomb. May my love for You be always as pure and powerful. Amen.

Song:
My Jesus, I Love Thee

Words: William R. Featherstone; Music: A. J. Gordon

1. My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign;
my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

2. I love thee because thou hast first loved me
and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

3. I’ll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,
and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

4. In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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