It was a dinner party not soon to be forgotten. Jesus had returned to the home of the three siblings, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The setting was familiar – Martha did the serving, and Mary tended to Jesus, the same way it had been when Jesus had visited earlier (Luke 10:38 – 42). But the way Mary tended to Jesus this time was…extremely devoted. She took expensive perfume and cleaned his feet with it, and then wiped it off with her hair.
And John helps us to imagine actually being there, because he tells us that the house was filled with the smell of the perfume.
Of course, Judas was upset the money from the perfume could have been used for better purposes, that of serving the poor, but our narrator John told us that poor people were of no real concern to the betrayer…
He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12:6 (ESV)
So Judas’ motives were clear, but Jesus had something else to say at this point to the dark one…
Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:7-8 (ESV)
It’s not a statement many modern people would make: the poor you will always have with you. It almost sounds downright uncaring, doesn’t it? In other words, you can serve poor people anytime. They will always be around. And yet there is something more going on here, a contrast: of course, the poor are precious to God, but in a contrast between people and God Himself, there is no comparison. So Jesus is saying that what Mary did was good and right. To pour out this expensive perfume on Him was good…because He is worth it.
Jesus is worth it.
I’m reminded of the story of a single man who determined that he would sell his house and give away the proceeds to missions, but when he shared his plans with his small group…they talked him out of it. Now, I don’t know the details, so maybe that was right or wrong, but I think there is a sense that we should just be a little devoted to Christ. Don’t go all crazy in this Christianity business, people say. Don’t get all carried away. But I don’t think that is biblical. I think Jesus is fine with it when we get carried away for Him.
- I know a man who really did sell it all and give it away. Praise God! Jesus is worth it.
- There are single adults who have committed themselves to this lifestyle because they can more wholeheartedly serve Christ. Praise God! Jesus is worth it.
- And of course there are multitudes of people who have said goodbye to this comfortable American culture to spend their lives overseas reaching the lost. Praise God! Jesus is worth it.
And whatever you can give Him will be too little, for He is worth it. He is worth everything.
For Wednesday, October 21st: John 13