John Day 22: Mary and Judas

Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus by Frank Wesley

Gospel of John Reading Plan
Day 22 Reading:
John 12:1-19

Bringing the Word to Life
Find your most prized or expensive possession. Offer it up to Jesus for his use and glory. Be ready to make a real response.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them 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 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.) – John 12:3-6 (NRSV)

Jesus makes a stop in Bethany to visit his friends on his way to Jerusalem for Passover (and his death). Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anoints Jesus with expensive perfume. Judas questions the action publically, but privately sees an opportunity to line his pockets lost. The next day a great crowd welcomes Jesus into Jerusalem in the same way they welcomed King Solomon centuries before.

I was struck by the motivational differences between Mary and Judas. Mary is humble, genuine, sacrificial and intimate in expressing her love and thanks to Jesus. Judas is the polar opposite- scheming, hypocritical, and self-serving. Mary is whole-hearted while Judas is two-faced. Do Judas’ actions sour the moment for Jesus? Steal the joy of the blessing? It is so hard when those who claim to love Jesus show otherwise with their words or actions.

There is a time for risky love. There is a time for extravagant gestures. There is a time to pour out your affections on one you love. And when the time comes – seize it, don’t miss it.
-Max Lucado

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
– attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ 

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it. Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him?
-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Extended quote from Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola:
May God have a people on this earth who are of Christ, through Christ, and for Christ.

  • A people of the cross.
  • A people consumed with an unvarnished vision of God’s eternal passion: to make Christ preeminent, supreme, and the head over all things visible and invisible.
  • A people who have discovered the touch of the Almighty in the face of His glorious Son, Jesus.
  • A people who wish to know only Christ and Him crucified, and to let everything else fall by the wayside.
  • A people who are searching His immeasurable depths, exploring His unfathomable heights, discovering His unsearchable riches, encountering His abundant life, receiving His infinite love, and making Him known to others.

In a world that sings, “Oh, who is this Jesus?” and a church that sings, “Oh, let’s all be like Jesus,” may we be a people who will sing with lungs of leather, “Oh, how we love Jesus!”

Gravity by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
No one comes to the Father except through me. —John 14.6

No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me. —John 6.44

Don’t make it exclusive and complicated.
This is not about a religious requirement.

God is love.
Jesus is God’s Word (love) made flesh.
No one experiences God except by experiencing love.
It’s God’s gift, God’s love working in us,
that opens us up to love.

No one falls unless drawn by gravity.
Love is the gravity that draws us to Love.

Beloved, come down to earth.
Go ahead and fall
in love with God.

Prayer by Lisa Degrenia
Blessed Jesus, we see the beauty of you alive in our sister, Mary of Bethany. Her gift inspires us to love you sacrificially and extravagantly. Her actions motivate us to thank you deeply and publically. Her heart moves us to nurture an intimate and authentic relationship with you. Shatter any falsehood at work in us, so more and more of your fragrant grace pours forth through us. Make us alive. Amen.

For a poem based on a similar passage, Mark 14:1-11, click here

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

Leave a comment for more information on the art, scripture translation, and the use of this post in other settings.

1 thought on “John Day 22: Mary and Judas

  1. Pingback: Pour Forth | Turning the Word

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