United Methodist Church of Livonia, NY



Six days before Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
 But one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.
 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”   
John 12: 1-8

The time was growing short. Soon Jesus’ physical presence will no longer be with his disciples. In his answer to Judas he was saying that Mary’s action was not something wasteful. The perfume was for the day of his burial. In these few words he was preparing his disciples for what was to come in the following week.

This is about the last kindness shown to Jesus before the events of the coming week that would lead to the cross. Mary’s act has a lesson for us in that often love can be more than a “good” thing, it can be a “lovely” thing.

Mary wasn’t too shy to pour the perfume on Jesus’ feet. She didn’t feel awkward about wiping his feet with her hair. She did this to show her love for Jesus.

Perhaps we should emulate Mary. Now we don’t have to go pour perfume on someone’s feet. Most of us would indeed feel very awkward and a bit foolish doing this. There are other ways though in which we can do what she did to show our concern and love for others. Sending a note to someone who is ill or to someone who has to search for a new job after being laid off telling them we care is a “lovely” thing to do. A special word or handshake to someone who has suffered a loss of a loved one can be another “lovely” thing to do. After all these little acts of kindness can uplift the spirits of those who receive these gifts. Jesus’ spirit was certainly uplifted by what Mary did.

This passage shows us the unrelenting courage and confidence that Jesus had even when he was facing the trials of the coming week. He knew that the cross would not be the end. He knew that the Gospel would be carried forth to all the people in all lands. And with the Gospel would go the story of Mary and the lovely present she gave Jesus.

Father, we do remember what Mary did for your Son. Teach us to do the same with gifts of love to the poor and to our neighbor. In doing this Lord we are remembering Jesus who loved us so much that he went to the cross for us. We thank you Lord for your steadfast love that surrounds and sustains us each and every day. Amen

Recommended scripture reading for Week 6: 
  • Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12
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