LINK: John 12
The anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany can also be found in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, though those passages emphasize the anointing of his head, while this one in John emphasizes her wiping His feet with her hair. This is not a contradiction, but shows how each writer picks out different events to highlight. In the next chapter of John, Jesus will wash his disciples' feet. Perhaps that is why John stresses that part of Mary's anointing. There is also an account in Luke 7:36-50 of a different woman who anoints Jesus not only with ointment, but with her tears. The events in Luke happen in Galilee a year before Jesus' death, while the events here in John occur in Bethany of Judea just before Jesus' death. Jesus reacts differently as well. In Luke the host comments that if Jesus were a prophet He would know that the woman was a sinner. Jesus responds with the parable of the two debtors. Here in John (and in Matthew and Mark), Jesus defends Mary when Judas complains that the money would be better spent on the poor. Jesus says that her anointing is in preparation for His burial.
Look at all the different reactions to Jesus in this chapter:
We have Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who earlier had sat at Jesus' feet to learn from Him, whose own brother was raised from the dead by Jesus, who now wastefully shows her love for Jesus. She humbles herself in the sight of all at the feast by pouring expensive perfume on His head and feet and then wiping His feet with her own hair. The whole room is filled with the smell of the perfume.
We have the crowds who waved the palm branches. The crowds line the streets for Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. They'd heard that He'd raised Lazarus from the dead. He must be the Messiah! He would rescue them from their suffering. He would free them from the oppression of the Romans. That is what they expected. Then when Jesus talks of kernels of wheat dying to the Greeks who come to talk to Him, when He tells the crowds that He must be lifted up, they are confused. They understand that this means He will die, and that doesn't fit in with what they expect of the Messiah. Many reject Him. Their hearts become harder and harder the more they hear yet don't believe.
And we have the ones who do believe but are afraid to confess it - to let people know. Why? Because they fear what will happen if they make it public. They would be kicked out of the synagogue, and lose their positions in society. They would be stripped of what they held dear. "They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God." (43)
Jesus made it clear in this chapter that those who don't come to Him walk in darkness. They won't know where they are going. Making up a Jesus who fits our own idea of what He should be isn't coming to Him. Jesus often doesn't fit our idea of a conqueror. He spoke of dying.
He came and gave His life so that we can live. So that we can walk in the light.
How do you respond to Him?
Have you packaged Him up in a box of expectations and rejected Him because He didn't bring you what you wanted? Do you want to follow Him, but do it halfheartedly because you care too much what people think of you? Do you love Him wastefully and extravagantly, like Mary?
Jesus said that those who follow Him will be like Him. He gave Himself wastefully for us. We are to give ourselves to Him.
Help me to love you with my whole being, Lord Jesus -extravagantly. I don't want to fear anything or anyone other than you. Thank you for giving yourself for me, for loving me, for giving me life and light.