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  • Rev. David Lyddon


John 12v1-8

After Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he stayed with his friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary and no doubt spent a quiet day away from the crowds, having time to relax.

One of the big lessons in life that we all need to learn, is that when we are tired and stressed, it is necessary to take a break and recharge the batteries rather than work longer and sleep less. A great gift in life is friendship and to spend time with our friends is a valuable way unwinding and relaxing. This is a basic human need and Jesus did just this after a busy few days by staying with his friends in Bethany, which is on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

It was in this environment that Jesus sat down to dinner with Lazarus and his friends, with Martha serving the food and Mary sitting at Jesus’s feet, listening to him talk with his close friends. Jesus felt comfortable in this home and so he demonstrated his true humanity by allowing people to look after him, especially by providing hospitality and support. This was shown very practically, as Mary made that memorable gesture of pouring a very expensive jar of perfume over his feet. Not only was this an extravagant act of generosity but also one full of symbolism.

Mary was using her perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet and this particular scent was known for its use with people in grief and pain, as well as for burials. This was not only a sign of her love for Jesus but also an act of worship, recognising who Jesus was. The fact that Jesus did not stop her, shows that he was aware of the future and where he was heading. At this crucial time in his life, Jesus received the love and care of his friends gracefully. How often do we feel uncomfortable when on the receiving end of someone’s generosity? There is as much grace in receiving thankfully, as giving sacrificially.

As Mary expressed her love for Jesus in this way, there was clearly some embarrassment at her extravagant action in the presence of her friends. Judas voices his disapproval at what was going on and yet Jesus supports Mary and her generous gift of perfume on his feet.

Where are we in this story? – standing with shameless Mary in her love for Jesus or with Judas, speaking out as the careful treasurer looking after the small resources of the group, or maybe just one of Jesus’s friends, not sure how to react to this show of affection. Time to reflect on our resources and gifts in the life of the church.

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