When You're "All In" With Jesus
Today we'll continue exploring a single passage of Scripture from the Gospel of John 12:1-8: the story of Mary anointing Jesus feet in the middle of a dinner party.
Here's the passage once again:
Today I'd like to focus on verse 3 of the passage: "Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair."1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
There's been a lot of ink spilled by scholars on that particular verse, particularly on the value of the "pure nard" ointment that Mary poured on Jesus' feet. It's believed that ointment was worth at least one whole year's wages for an average worker--perhaps more.
The ointment could have been Mary's dowry--something that could have ensured she would one day be married, and perhaps would have a decent life as a result. Without a dowry, her chances for marriage were slim. And as a woman in first-century Palestine, she would have had few opportunities without being married.
So basically, Mary took her future and poured it out on Jesus' feet. Her love and her devotion were so great that she wanted to do something extravagant to show it. But it was her unwavering trust and her deep faith in Jesus that caused her to risk everything.
I recently read a wonderful quote from St. Augustine that speaks right into this very idea of devotion, love, trust, and faith:
Where that light shines into my soul which no place can contain, and where that voice sounds which time does not take away, and where that fragrance smells which no wind scatters, and where there is that flavor which eating does not diminish, and where there as that clinging which no satiety will separate. This is what I love when I love my God.Those of us who call ourselves Christians might say that we love Jesus, we might even act like we do from time to time. But how many of us are so all in with our faith in Jesus that we would be willing to trust him with our future?
This question convicts us. It should make us wonder if we are truly willing to pour our future at the feet of Jesus, and trust him to take care of us.
It should make us wonder if we have the kind of devotion that would give us the courage to do the risky work of truly following where Jesus leads.
May you be challenged today and every day to trust your future to the Risen Christ, who beckons us forward into a future where he has already arrived to prepare a place for us.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.