For Monday of Holy Week: John 12:1-11

The Gospel reading of the The Revised Common Lectionary for today, March 17, 2008, the Monday of Holy Week, is John 12:1-11. As they say in church: Read carefully; these are God’s words:

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint 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.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’” 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.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

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

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Leif Sr.

    Though we do not know what reaction Lazarus was experiencing personally, it reminds us how important our life can be. Usually we are just busy about our life and don't realize others are watching us, some for good as our unconscious witness of Jesus causes them to believe and some for evil as our unconscious witness of Jesus grates against them like fingers on a chalk board. They work against you because they hate God.

    You are being watched (insert spooky organ music here)!

    Thankfully, saving is God's business. We just have to reflect Christ in our life.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I do love that phrase too. it speaks to living in the moment and loving every breath that we have.

    Captain Jack-that is the funniest comparison to anything in the Bible that I have ever heard. I think it would definitely get old after a while. After all our reward comes in heaven, right? So what if you could never get there?!?!?!

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    While I don't share your theology, I agree that living forever would more than likely get old much quicker than we think.

  • http://thestateofamerica.wordpress.com/ Daniel

    Martha must have been an extreme women of devotion. She was so extreme about feeding folks that she became extremely frustrated when sister Mary quit helping to listen to Jesus talk. Now, she is extreme in her service to Jesus. She had vision to anoint Jesus before his burial. She demonstrated extreme humility by washing Jesus feet with expensive ointment with her hair. What kind of extreme love is that?

  • http://www.adlibchristianarts.org Judith Dupree

    John-Boy,

    Nothing says it as perfectly and simply as the Word. Thanks for reminding us in this simple, perfect way.

    I, who am such a social justice person, receive this as a cogent reminder to keep my priorities right. HE is always at the pivot point of our praise and passion. All else will flow from that.

    A blessed Resurrection Day to you, friend.

    Judith

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hi, Judith! Thanks for this encouraging thought. Wonderful. (Say, I’m gonna be out in your neck of the woods on April 19, at Faith Chapel, for the Christian Writers event. Maybe you’ll come??)

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I love this passage. The image of a supplicant Mary and the indignation of Judas, the detail of the fragrance filling the room. But then I get distracted by the idea of the plot against Lazarus. Did they succeed or did they just forget about it after the crucifixion?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Winey: The Bible doesn’t say whatever happened to Lazarus; this is the last mention of him. But how much would it bite to be dead, rise from the dead, and then realize a mob wants to murder you? I’d be, like, “What IS it with me??”

    I find “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me,” one of the most trenchant things Christ says. It’s got everything: humor, tragedy, sadness, victory, resignation. It’s so … human, basically. I treasure it.

  • http://livingstonesministries.wordpress.com Dana

    "What kind of extreme love is that?"

    The kind of extreme love that I desire to have for my God!

    Those of us who have read the Bible for most of our lives have heard these stories since we were small and often we become numb to the significance of them. How sad. Reading these scriptures of Holy Week stirs an emotion within my soul that I cannot not resist.

    I want to be known as a women of extreme devotion such as Martha. She experienced her God in a way that none other had, thus explains her devotion to her Lord. (John 11)

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    “The Bible doesn’t say whatever happened to Lazarus; this is the last mention of him.”

    Another thing to consider is how potent are Jesus’ abilities? I picture Lazarus ending up like Captain Jack from ‘Doctor Who’, raised from the dead and suddenly confronted with the inability to die again.

    It would frustrate the mob, surely, but might get old for Lazarus after a while.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I struggle with the Martha that lives within me. I have the work horse devotion, the feeling that if something needs to be done and I am able then I will do it. Then come the feelings that Martha showed to Mary. I pray several times every day that I could be more like Mary and enjoy the gifts that God gives me on the spot, in the moment. I want to be able to demonstrate my love for the Lord in both ways and not over do either one.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Winey: The fact that you'd even say what you have here means you're fine. That's as honorable and thoughtful a sentiment as exists.

  • http://bugskippy.com bugskippy

    Thank you! I’ve been bombarded with critics telling me I believe in “fairytails” lately. I really need to hear the heart of good scripture, especially this close to Easter.

    I always feel sorry for Lazarus. There he was, for three days partying with the angels in heaven, only to be yanked back here. I wonder, when he went to bed at night after he was brought back, did he dream of heaven, and long to be back there? I too, can relate to having too much of Marth’s spirit, so much to do, so little time to take in what’s important.


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