The Gospel of John: a commentary & meditation 
  Extravagant love for Jesus

Scripture: John 12:1-11

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Laz'arus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled  with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." 9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was  there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Laz'arus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Laz'arus also to death, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Meditation:  Do you know the love that knows no bounds? As Jesus dines with his beloved friends, Mary does something which only love can do.  She took the most precious thing she had and spent it all on Jesus.  Her love was not calculated but extravagant. Mary's action was motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude for Godís mercy.  She did something, however, a Jewish woman would never do in public. She loosed her hair and anointed Jesus with her tears. It was customary for a woman on her wedding day to bound her hair. For a married woman to loosen her hair in public was a sign of grave immodesty. Mary was oblivious to all around her, except for Jesus. She took no thought for what others would think, but what would please her Lord. In humility she stooped to anoint Jesus' feet and to dry them with her hair. How do you anoint the Lordís feet and show him your love and gratitude?

The gospel records that the whole house was filled with the perfume of the ointment. What Mary had done brought sweetness not only in the physical sense, but the spiritual sense as well.  Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love -- a love that we cannot outmatch.  The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for us and by anointing us with his Holy Spirit.   The Apostle Paul says that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).  Does the love of God rule in yourheart,  mind, and actions?

Why was Judas critical of Maryís lovely deed?  Judas viewed her act as extravagant wastefulness because of greed. A person views things according to what it inside the heart or soul.  Judas was an embittered man and had a warped sense of what was precious and valuable, especially to God. Jesus had put Judas in charge of their common purse, no doubt because he was gifted in financial matters.  The greatest temptation we can face will often come in the area of our greatest strength or gifting.  Judas used money entrusted to him for wrong and hurtful purposes.  He allowed greed and personal gain to corrupt his heart and to warp his view of things.  He was critical towards Mary because he imputed unworthy motives.  Do you examine your heart correctly when you impute wrong or unworthy motives
towards others?

"Give us, Lord, a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you.  Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer.  Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards me.  The things we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labor for: through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Prayer of Sir Thomas More, 16th century)


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