John 12 vs 1 - 8
Jesus anointed at Bethany
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about half a litre 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. 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.’ 6 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. 7 ‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you but you will not always have me.’
I’m sure at some time or another you’ve heard it said of someone...... “he knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. These words were written by Oscar Wilde in the play Lady Windermere’s Fan, to describe a cynic, and they could well be applied to Judas here. He knew the price of the perfume Mary poured on the feet of Jesus but he knew nothing of the value of love. Though she knew the cost of the nard Mary wasn’t counting the cost of love. The act of extravagance, counted wasteful by a thief, came from pure motives and a heart of devotion and love and when we consider the one who was the object of that act of love who really could say that it was extravagance in any sense. Even in itself the anointing anticipated Jesus death and pointed the way to an even greater act of love, the cost of which cannot be fully understood by us but is captured in the words of an old hymn. “We may not know, we cannot tell what pains he had to bear. We cannot know, that’s true, but we know the reason.... “we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there.” In the light of that was Mary’s act one of extravagance? Perhaps, but it was one that revealed love at its heart.