Words with Wackdog:

This comes from a study being conducted of John's writings every Sunday at 10:45am.  You would be very welcome to be our guests.  This is John chapter 12 beginning at verse 2:

2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure (lit. faithful) 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.

Here again we see Martha busy with serving and the details of the meal while Mary is again found at Jesus’ feet in worship. 

“All our acts and words have meanings and effects by no means limited to what we intend at the time.” - Fred Craddock

Whether this is an ointment or a perfume, and whether it comes from a compound of myrrh or what is called spike (nard) which may have been blended with pistachio oil is probably not too important.  It is not value or even rarity of the material used, but its meaning.

Q.  What is being symbolized here?
A.  Preparation for Jesus’ death and burial.

There are some odors and smells that stay in your memory.  Can you describe any?

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,  5“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” (300 pence - KJV; 300 denarii - Greek text) 6He 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.

The description of Judas’ character is written not during the event, but afterward, reflecting on a whole life.  Isn’t it interesting and scary at the same time that one or two moments can define who you are?

Q.  How is Judas described by the church (even though he was one of the initial 12 disciples?
A.  uncaring, traitor and thief.

The idea of not being “concerned” or not caring about the poor is the same word used to describe the feelings “the hireling” has for the sheep (10:13).

A writer by the name of Sanders (Brown quotes, p. 448) poses the possibility that Simon the leper was healed by Jesus, He was the father of Lazarus and Judas was then Lazarus’ older brother.  But there is nothing other than common names to have this “theory” hold water.  It is basically unprovable.

Can you imagine spending a year’s wages on one act of worship?
I appreciate the insight of Craddock, pp. 91-92, here:  “the act of Mary will both bless and plague the mind of a minister, for what she did will be duplicated a thousand times over in the sincere if often ill-advised expressions of devotion and gratitude to Christ by church members.  Three hundred poinsettias fill the chancel at Christmas, five hundred lilies surround the cross at Easter.  Then there is the gift of sterling communion ware, the memorial chimes, the stained-glass window.  ‘In gratitude,’ says the donor; ‘a sinful waste,’ says not only Judas, but everyone who has seen hollow eyes over a tin cup or heard the whimpering of a hungry child.  Common sense says we should plant onions, not roses, and yet a check of the shopping list, even of the poor, will reveal that among potatoes, beans and pork will be flowers and perfume.”  
How do you deal with the offer of extravagant gifts for Jesus in light of so much need?

7“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.

This is really what these opening verses are all about:  Jesus soon-coming death.

8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Again John is trying to tell us that there is a poverty that is beyond the physical.
How would you interpret this verse and then apply it?

This is not saying to ignore the needs of the poor is it?

Deuteronomy 15:11 (NIV) 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Q.  Why won’t the people here not always have Jesus?
A.  Because Jesus, the man, is soon to die.
Q.  Who will take his place?
A.  The Holy Spirit.  We will not see Jesus again until he comes for his Bride the Church.

9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

This is not necessarily for the purpose of bringing harm to either Jesus or Lazarus, but a confirmation of what they had heard.

10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,  11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

Q.  Again what are some reasons to want to kill Lazarus?  Jesus?
A.  Do away with the evidence and the Miracle-Worker.  The Sadduccees who did not even believe in the resurrection of the dead were losing credibility, followers, influence, etc.

What do you believe about who Jesus is?  The next few verses in John show the confusion about what Jesus' mission was.  He will forever be the Savior of the World, if only you will believe and follow Him - He can be your Savior, too.

Gary L. Wackler, Minister